Sip Nebraska – the annual outdoor tasting festival that celebrates locally produced wine, craft beer, cider and spirits – moved to Lincoln’s Haymarket Park Oct. 2 and 3.
The event, which took place at Mahoney State Park in early May the past seven years, was postponed last spring because Nebraska Game and Parks banned events in state parks due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Stacy Leners, owner of event organizer Blur Parties.
“We do have Mahoney State Park reserved for May 7th and 8th in 2021, but we don’t know what will happen with COVID-19 and whether Mahoney will be available,” Leners said. “But we plan to have it at Mahoney in May and also at Haymarket Park again in October in 2021.”
Leners said the event followed 27 pages of health guidelines such as providing hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, free masks and other precautions as required by the Lancaster County Health Department to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus among guests.
Sip Nebraska at Haymarket Park was Blur Parties’ first event in 2020 due to pandemic-related cancellations, Leners said.
“We were going to add three new events and had 15 planned for 2020, but they all had to be canceled except this one,” she added. “It’s been a tough year. We’ll see what 2021 brings.”
About 1,500 people attended Sip Nebraska event at Haymarket Park.
“That’s about half the attendance at Mahoney, where we usually have 2,500 to 3,000 people,” Leners said. “We think in a normal year, we could have about 4,500 people attend here at Haymarket Park. Being in the city helps. Even our winery and brewery vendors said that.”
Fifteen beverage vendors – including wineries, craft breweries and distilleries – offered nearly 100 libations to taste at Haymarket Park. Lincoln-area participants were Code Beer, Deer Springs Winery and Saro Cider of Lincoln, James Arthur Vineyard of Raymond, Junto Wine of Seward and Glacial Till Vineyard of Palmyra.
Many attendees participated in blind tastings hosted by A Warmer Day, a Lincoln-based nonprofit that provides coats and winter apparel to underprivileged children and families. Blind tasting contest winners received prizes donated by the vendors. Individuals who donated gently worn winter apparel received raffle tickets from A Warmer Day to enter into a drawing for more prizes.
Flydogz, Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q, Pim’s Thai Catering & Takeout, and Taste of Louisiana sold meals, and several other vendors offered samples of meats and sauces, popcorn and chocolates.
Fifteen artisan and craft vendors also participated. Staff members from Urban Legends taught guests how to make pumpkin door hanger paintings.
Attendees could watch each day’s best football games on Haymarket Park’s big screen. Many also tried their luck at foosball, Jumbo Jenga and Connect 4, and at bag toss, washers and other tailgate-style games.
Hay bales, a group swing, tables and other seating options were available.
DJ Tunes, GhettoBlaster, Ro Hempel Music and Simplicated Band provided live musical entertainment. Dancing and dance lessons were prohibited as part of the health department’s COVID-19 restrictions. Educational sessions led by vendors were also canceled this year.
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