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Arts/WEST, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. 

Local Wine, Mead and Venison Competition will allow locals to sample amateur drinks and dishes

Some Athens residents and students may like to spend their Saturdays eating burgers and drinking aquariums at The Pub. This Saturday, those individuals will have a chance to take a break from the usual Uptown food to sample homemade wine and venison dishes.

The 2017 Wine, Mead and Venison Competition will take place Saturday at ARTS/West, 132 W. State St. Admission is $15 and participants will get a chance to judge several entries of wine, mead and venison and get a commemorative glass. The event will also feature live music.

The event is hosted by the Athens Do It Yourself Shop, 16060 Canaanville Rd., and has been going on for about 14 years.

Eric Hedin, the owner of Athens DIY Shop, said each entry of wine, mead and venison is numbered for people to pick their favorites. There will even be a full table of red and white wines for people to try. Each taster casts a ballot for different categories such as “most unique” and “favorite venison dish.” In the past, venison dishes have included different chillis and meatballs made out of venison.

“Variety is the spice of life,” Hedin said.

Janice Brewer, who graduated from Ohio University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in specialized studies, has attended the event several times before and plans to go again this year. Her favorite venison dish at the event, which she said she remembers “vividly,” was a sauerkraut and venison meatball.

“It was dope,” Brewer said.

The competition gets a different number of competitors each year, Hedin said, from about 40 to 100 entries. The entries are usually amateur winemakers and hunters, but professionals are allowed to enter.

CJ Verity, an Athens resident, has attended the event for “as long as it’s been going on” to taste and judge the drinks and dishes. He “dabbles” in home brewing but has never entered anything into the competition in the past.

Verity enjoys the “laid-back” atmosphere of the event and getting to try many different things made by local people in their own homes. He added that if a person is interested in learning how to home brew or make their own wine, the Wine, Mead and Venison Competition is a great place to network with other people who enjoy the same activities.

“It supports local enthusiasts that are home brewing that are making their own wine, mead and venison,” Verity said. “There’s local entertainment. The price is very reasonable for 3 to 4 hours of entertainment.”

Brewer, who lives in Athens, enjoys the DIY aspect of the event and appreciating dishes people take their personal time to create.

“It’s definitely something new to experience in Athens, like an alternative to the Uptown scene,” Brewer said. “It gives people a greater sense of the Athens community.”

Brewer also likes that the event is held at Arts/West because it adds to the “community feel.”

“It’s really DIY,” Brewer said. “People are making these dishes or the wine and mead at home and that takes a really long time for it to ferment. (I like) knowing that people in my community have taken the time to make this mead or wine.”

Hedin hopes the event helps showcase amateur wine and mead makers as well as hunters and the hard work they do to on their own time to make the event happen.

“When people make something that they’re proud of, they want to share it,” Hedin said. “(The event will) shine a light on people who make the good stuff.”


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