It has been two years since the City of Riverbank has taken over the annual Cheese and Wine Exposition and they contracted Chris Ricci Presents to promote and coordinate the event. The City recently announced plans to continue the festival for another year, which will make it a very special 40th Annual Cheese and Wine event.
Ricci presented the Riverbank City Council with a report on how last year’s event went and shared some new ideas for this year’s expo.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with the city of Riverbank, your staff and your community to put on this event for the past two years here in Riverbank,” said Ricci. “It is always challenging to put on an event of this size and every year we have huge successes and sometimes we have some things that don’t work quite so well.”
He explained that last year’s event stayed within the set budget and required no additional subsidies from the City of Riverbank.
There was an increase in vendor participation at last year’s event as well as revenues that were up approximately 4 percent from 2014. The vendors also gave positive feedback about participating in the event, according to Ricci.
“Our entertainment was successful,” added Ricci. “We built on what worked last year.
“Our Hispanic heritage festival area was extremely successful this year. We added more bands and it really worked out great.”
New to the event last year was a skateboarding demonstration which was hosted by a Bay area group D.O.H.P. (Decorate Our Home Planet) led by D.O.H.P. President David Galindo where they held demonstrations and competitions.
“Our alcohol management directives were followed and really successful,” added Ricci. “We worked hard with the chief and the police department here in Riverbank to create a safe event and I think we achieved that.”
With increased revenues from the wine tasting and addressing the tasting issues from the year before, Ricci stated that the wine tasting was a success.
The feedback by the patrons caused organizers to consider increasing the number of artisans and crafters at the festival as well as continuing with commercial vendors.
“We had some very successful partnerships with non-profits,” stated Ricci, but said there were other non-profits that didn’t do so well at the 2015 event.
“We had great results with the Kiwanis Club, Central Valley Community Resources, the Women’s Club did a great job running the wine tasting entrance, Cardozo Middle School sold a lot of sodas and did a great job but we also had to ask a non-profit to leave the event because they weren’t following the alcohol directives,” Ricci explained. “They were serving alcohol in a way that was not safe or legal.”
Some of the concepts being discussed for the 2016 expo are to create some excitement with some events like a block dedicated to Oktoberfest where people could taste German beers, food, cultural traditions, and music. Another concept that he discussed was creating a Cheese World where kids can race boats down a molten cheese river and eat nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese fondue.
Ricci talked about generating more revenue for the city and with some marketing adjustments he believes that revenue can increase by 20 percent this year.
Mayor Richard O’Brien expressed that he received positive feedback from residents about the event and they also requested them to possibly consider mixing up the food and the vendors.
“I felt it was a success this past year and I saw the difference from the previous year,” stated Councilmember, Darlene Barber-Martinez at the council meeting during comments. “So I just want to thank you (Chris Ricci) for your efforts in what you did and I am looking forward to another great year.”
The City will proceed with the 40th Annual Cheese and Wine Exposition, with the festivities planned in October.