Taste North Fork, the festival that featured cooking demos, deals, village tours and discounted tastings across the region, will return this Veterans Day weekend with more vendors and a brewery crawl in downtown Riverhead.
The event features free shuttle service among the various locations on the tour and also at the Mattituck and Greenport Long Island Rail Road stations and Cross Sound Ferry terminal in Orient. The three loops are as follows: a bus route from Tanger II in Riverhead that ends at Bay View Farm and Market in Aquebogue; a route that begins at Bay View and ends at Peconic Lane in Peconic; and a route that runs from Peconic to Greenport.
The festival runs Nov. 8 and 9 from noon to 5:30 p.m. There is no fee to use the shuttle.
“About 1,000 people took advantage of the shuttles over three days last year,” said Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, the event’s organizer. “We expect to build on that quite significantly, if the weather is good.”
Bate said 119 businesses are expected to participate.
The tour will offer smaller, though more frequent, shuttles this year, Bate said. Buses will run every 30 minutes from noon until 5:30 p.m. during both days of the festival.
Visitors from New York City can use the LIRR or take advantage of $38 round-trip Hampton Jitney service through the I Love NY bus.
“It’s for visitors without vehicles,” Bate said of the shuttles. “The New York City metro area has the lowest [percentage of] car ownership in the country.”
The wine council’s ultimate goal is to secure a grant to continuously provide this type of shuttle service, he said.
Participants say the event brings visitors out to the North Fork during the typically slow period between harvest and the holidays.
“It would traditionally be somewhat of a lost weekend for us, so it was a great reason to bring people out for that particular weekend,” said Rosemary Batcheller, owner of the Village Cheese Shop on Love Lane in Mattituck. “Everybody was very enthusiastic and excited and we got to show off what we do well.”
Batcheller will be selling fresh grilled cheese sandwiches made with apples from KK’s The Farm in Southold.
Participating business do not have to pay a fee to join the promotion, just offer a discount to customers who arrive via the shuttle.