Print Pecan and wine festival draws crowds
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 00:00

The weather couldn’t have been better over the weekend as hundreds of people poured into downtown Camp Verde for the 11th annual Pecan, Wine and Antique Festival.

Event organizer Steve Goetting didn’t have exact attendance numbers as of press time, but estimated at the height of the crowds Saturday, a few hundred people an hour were pouring through the doors of the old high school gym downtown.

Jeanie Rowell, center, and her husband, Courtney Rowell, right, accept a glass of pecan champagne from pourer Linda Filandrinos at the Pecan, Wine and Antique Festival. “It’s delicious,” said Jeanie Rowell. “Delicate and sweet flavor followed by a pecan essence.”The three-day festival wasn’t just limited to the gym, and live music could be heard just about wherever you went.

“I think it’s a fun little event,” said Kim Parado, visiting the Verde Valley from California. “I was impressed that there were this many different wineries participating.”

Sarah Flanert, a Gilbert resident up visiting friends, said she had been to the festival a couple of times in the past and thought this was one of the better ones she’s seen, in terms of variety of vendors and wine.

There was plenty to do, that was clear, especially since the festival’s central location allowed visitors to take part in other events at nearby Fort Verde State Historic Park.

The fort was holding its annual Buffalo Soldier event, honoring that particular part of American military history, while other volunteers dressed in period clothing to give visitors a taste of what life may have been like so many years ago at this frontier outpost.

Plenty of classic cars and motorcycles were spotted on downtown streets for the Lions Club car show, and visitors were streaming in and out of the old jail on Hollamon Street.

A group of volunteers spent several months last year restoring the jail to its original 1930s appearance, and their meticulous work has paid off.

Dick Rynearson, one of the volunteers, said a lot of people had been coming over to see the restored jail, complete with original cell doors and period furniture and fixtures.

There was also plenty of pecan action, from a pie judging contest, to plain and seasoned nuts out of the bag to the women with agricultural extension who sat presiding over a wealth of knowledge of how to raise various pecan varieties.

To get the real lowdown on the pecan, a few visitors piled into a Cliff Castle Casino shuttle bus for a trip to a local pecan farm owned and operated by Richard Tinlin. The trip used to be made via hayride, but the shuttles are a bit better equipped to navigate the four-lane State Route 260.

Tinlin, a scientist who started growing pecans on the property years ago as a hobby, now sends out thousands of pounds of nut meat a year from his trees along the river.

Tinlin typically harvests the crop in late fall, but he leaves a couple of trees alone just for the February festival. That way, he can show visitors how he uses a modified tractor with a special attachment to latch onto a tree trunk, sending powerful vibrations throughout the tree resulting in a fast and furious rain of pecans.

A portion of ticket prices will be set aside for a local nonprofit group raising money to build a new town library.

This is the second year Goetting’s group, Verde Entertainments, has taken the lead organizing the festival. The town used to fill that role, but shrinking budgets have caused local governments to cut sponsorship from nearly every special event in Camp Verde.