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'Red, White and Blues'

CRA hopes event will bring people to downtown Cape

June 20, 2009
By DREW WINCHESTER, dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com

The Community Redevelopment Agency has slowly been building a new tradition over the last few years by hosting unique events a week before the Fourth of July holiday.

The last few years have seen the the "Red, White, & Brew" beer tasting events become huge successes, often selling out days in advance.

The tastings have become a hallmark for the downtown area, giving business owners the chance to showcase their establishments to a wider audience.

Yet, as successful as those tasting events have been, CRA officials have decided to shake things up by tweaking the idea for this year's celebration.

Dubbed, "Red, White, & Blues," this event will be approached much like the tastings by urging attendees to tour all 13 participating establishments, just at much more relaxed pace.

This first Red, White, & Blues event takes place throughout the downtown Cape Coral corridor on Saturday, June 27, 5 - 10 p.m.

Fact Box

TO GO

What: Red, White, & Blues

Where: Downtown Cape Coral

When: Saturday, June 27, 5 - 10 p.m.

More information: Call 549-5615

CRA Public Relations Manager Helen Ramey said the tasting events, while highly successful, didn't afford people the opportunity to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, as they hurried between sampling locations to ensure they hit everything.

"This way people can really enjoy the evening instead of going from location to location sampling," Ramey said. "People can really come and discover the ambiance and atmosphere downtown has to offer."

Red, White, and Blues will feature live blues, jazz, rock n' roll at all 13 locations throughout downtown, along with food and drink specials from 5 - 10 p.m.

Part of the fun, too, will be utilizing the CRA's trolley system, which was recently extended for an additional two months.

"We'll have trolleys running continuously throughout downtown," Ramey added. "We want people to know it's a great way to park and ride and enjoy a great night out on the town."

Some of the impetus for changes to the events have come as a result of bar and restaurant owners having a degree of difficulty when it came to staffing.

Also, without the beer and food samples, people will have the opportunity eat full meals at discounted prices.

"I think this event is going to bring out more people because they (the CRA) aren't charging," said Ralph's Place owner Joanne Stevens. "People will have the chance to have full dinners, sit for a while ... they might not get to all 13 places, but the ones they do get to, they'll be able to spend more time and enjoy what they have to offer."

Stevens said that Ralph's, which is going to serve a basket of honey-barbecue chicken wings and a pitcher of beer for $10, did have to increase its staff for the tasting events, as the line to sample food and beer often stretched outside their door.

Yet, while some of the specifics have changed, Stevens said the mission for the event hasn't - to introduce Ralph's to new a whole new customer base.

"That's our goal at every event, to make some new customers," Stevens added. "I'm hoping to get some people who say, 'I didn't know they were here,' or 'I didn't know they had this!'"

Karen Scarbrough, co-owner of the Twisted Conch along with her husband Jason, said all of the events have been wonderful for the downtown corridor, regardless of the official format.

Scarbrough has owned the Twisted Conch for roughly six months. She's participated in Bike Nights and the martini tasting competition, but none of the beer or wine tastings.

"All the events they have put on have been wonderful," she said. "We've been packed (for all the events), people have just been great. They've been wonderful."

The Twisted Conch will be featuring $4 margaritas, $2 well shots, and its special grouper sandwich for only $8.99. It'll also be utilizing its brand new mister fans on the outdoor patio.

"People can come and sit on the patio and the cool air on our warm nights," she said. "They're really awesome. They have dropped the temperature 15 degrees."

If Red, White, & Blues is as successful as the special tasting events, those tastings might be going the way of the dinosaur. Other than the martini tasting competition, Ramey said the American and international beer tastings, along with the wine tasting, will probably be morphing into something similar to Red, White, and Blues.

"We'll be keeping the martini event because it is a true tasting competition," Ramey said. "We'll start to have regular specials in downtown, possibly even themed events."

At the heart of Red, White, & Blues, and all CRA events, is the opportunity for Cape and Lee County residents to get out and see what the city has to offer for entertainment and night life.

With the economy still reeling, Ramey said the event affords the chance to hit the town and have a great time, all at an affordable price.

"With the price of gas going up, here you can park and ride and have a fun, affordable time," she said finally. "It's a great way for people to enjoy their own city, to get out and help the local economy."

Admission and trolley service is free. For more information, call 549-5615, or visit southcape.net.

 
 

 

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