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euphoria’s in the air

September 20, 2017
Upstate’s food, drink, music, arts and ambiance on display
euphoria-concert-w-cut.pngHear Grammy-winning songwriters share the stories behind their most beloved melodies and enjoy a downtown walking tour with a regional art historian. Explore the bedrocks of barbecue with renowned pit masters and sip your way through a flight of Italian wines with sommeliers. Ride the trails with one of the world’s most recognized cyclists, then dine with a group of new friends. Discover the art of biscuit-making, experience pre-Prohibition cocktails, pair chocolate and liqueur with the pros, and walk through an open-air craft beer garden as live music sets the stage. 
If these sound like the dreams of someone sketching out a 2018 bucket list, you haven’t seen what’s on tap for Greenville’s euphoria festival. All this and more is packed into the city’s favorite four-day fete, educating the “epicurious,” drawing unmatched talent to town and firmly establishing Greenville’s place on the country’s cultural map. 
The food, wine and music festival, founded in 2006 by singer/songwriter Edwin McCain and restaurateur Carl Sobocinski, exists to educate, entice, enlighten and entertain. This year’s lineup exceeds those aims, shining a spotlight on Greenville’s thriving arts and culinary communities as well as the diverse and culture-focused city that supports them. The 12th annual euphoria event boasts 80 chefs on its roster, more than any previous year. 
According to Brianna Shaw, euphoria’s executive director, 40 percent of euphoria attendees travel more than 50 miles to enjoy its offerings, and many of this year’s VIP packages went to visitors who will hop several planes to attend. The festival’s success lies not just in the draw of big-name chefs, artists and musicians, but also in the city that euphoria and its founders call home; visitors from more than 30 states will join locals this weekend in celebrating the Upstate’s arts and culinary scenes.  
“Yes, there is a tourism part of it, but what I did not realize before I came on board was the significant economic impact the festival has here,” Shaw notes. “Hotel rooms, retail storefronts, restaurants and more get the benefit of a wave of euphoria, so to speak.” 
Local businesses also use the event as a marketing tool, Shaw adds. “One of my favorite things about the event is when companies attend to tout a new physician or law partner or woo a potential hire to move here. We all want arts, culture and events. We want the full package, and euphoria fits all of those. We demonstrate Greenville’s quality of life in a nutshell.”
More than demonstrating the city’s quality of life, euphoria enhances it. The 2017 festival supports Feed and Seed, a non-profit connecting farmers to tables across the Upstate, with its proceeds. 
Emily Scurry, marketing manager for The Greenville News Group, reiterates the festival’s value to area businesses.
“We were drawn to euphoria’s vision for a festival that drew people to Greenville, celebrated its culture and supported its philanthropic causes. More than the $250,000 has been given to charity since its inception, euphoria has bolstered the Upstate by drawing thousands of visitors to our doors, elevating our food and arts scene and adding immeasurably to the city’s quality of life. The Greenville News, TALK Greenville and Upstate Parent magazines are proud to partner with euphoria again in its 12th year.”
Kicking off Thursday, Sept. 21 and wrapping up with a “Certified SC-grown” Sunday supper on the 24th, euphoria is highly anticipated and – for some experiences – already sold out. The weekend’s schedule includes tasting events, intimate musical encounters, food truck rodeos, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, multi-course dinners and live concerts. 
The festival’s rich offerings haven’t gone unnoticed. Media outlets from Bon Appetit to O magazine have taken note, and in the past four years, attendance has jumped from 3,000 to 7,000. Even higher numbers are anticipated this year. Executive director Brianna Shaw notes that the growth is appreciated, but the feel of the festival remains down-home.
“The idea is that it’s an intimate experience. The restaurant industry is absolutely multiplying, and our breadth of talent shows it,” she says. But the Upstate is a neighborly place, and euphoria’s world-class scope remains cozy somehow; there is a singularly hospitable feel for a festival of its size. 
“Euphoria is food, wine, music, old friends making new friends and everyone connecting. We’ve seen attendees move here, their companies move here, and as a transplant myself, I see the allure of what originally brought them. Our guests enjoy exceptional food and drink while experiencing Greenville; we just try to keep highlighting what makes this place great.”
The weekend’s jam-packed schedule is truly a team effort, Shaw adds. “We have tremendous local partners in restaurants, chefs, Upstate companies and charities. They vary in size, but we couldn’t do it without them. This is a big event, but at its heart euphoria is such a pitch-in.”
Though scaled specifically for Greenville, the festival’s footprint is expanding. “We aren’t adding size,” Shaw explains, “but we are expanding our offerings. This year’s Taste of the Trail ride and dine event in Traveler’s Rest is one way we are celebrating talent outside our city limits; we see that trend continuing in years to come.”
Taryn Scher, euphoria’s board chairman, says, “This festival is about so much more than a single weekend; it has become one of the region’s best talking points. Locals use euphoria a way to show off Greenville to clients, colleagues, family members or national media, and the festival provides a backdrop to an incredible destination. It’s the perfect way to see Greenville for the first (or second, or eighth) time.”
“Euphoria has truly helped put Greenville on the map,” Scher concludes, “attracting national attention and attendees from all over the world. I always tell people if you pick just one weekend a year to visit, choose euphoria. If those dates don’t work out, thankfully we have 51 other really awesome weekends here too.”
TOPICS: Business Recruitment, Celebrations, Quality of Life, Upstate Thoughts