On a trip to Napa Valley this past Sunday, I was very disheartened to learn that the Napa Valley Mustard Festival will be cancelled for 2011. I was hoping to do some initial scouting and finding some new spots for photos. Per their website, “Unfortunately many of the season’s popular Napa Valley Mustard Festival events will not take place this year. The economy has made it challenging to secure funding for the past few years – and it is not financially feasible to move forward at this time with the full program.” I was very much looking forward to competing once again in the photo contest, attending the events, and generally spending more time than usual in Napa Valley.
Apparently the struggles of the event have been known for a while. In December, the Napa Valley Register reported that board was facing $200,ooo in debt and the departure of several board members due the lack of liability insurance. Many board members felt they could not take the personal risk. Another complicating factor is the competing four day food and wine event, Flavor Napa Valley, sponsored by Silverado Resort, which was scheduled for the same weekend as the Napa Riverwalk Epicurean Marketplace. Apparently two large food and wine events on the same weekend is not a good idea, go figure. I’m not sure who’s to blame for the financial difficulties, but clearly Flavor Napa Valley is the better funded of the two programs. Given the longevity of the Mustard Festival (17 Years), one would think the Silverado Resort would be well aware of both the event and the timing of the events. Why they couldn’t have scheduled the event for even a few weeks later, I’m not sure, but clearly it’s not all Flavor Napa Valley’s fault. Had the Mustard Festival not had debt and insurance issues, one would think they would still be able to go forward with the season’s events. As it stands now, Flavor Napa Valley will not be facing any competition for attendees, and should have an excellent showing, including myself. Curiously, the page on the Silverado Resort’s website with details on Taste Napa Valley, is no longer active.
I am personally very disappointed by this news. Most of the events have been cancelled with the exception of the Taste of Yountville and the Calistoga Jazz Festival. Both of which are events definitely worth checking out. The future of the Mustard Festival is now in doubt. The 2011 Mustard Festival poster, designed by Napa artist, Jessel Miller is available for purchase through the gallery. In addition there will be a fundraiser this Friday, January 25th at the gallery to help raise fund for the festival. The original painting, from which the poster was made, will be up for auction, starting at $7,500 as well as other silent auction items. Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served as well. There is no admission for the event.
Hopefully, the Mustard Festival will return in 2012, though clearly the difficulties they are experiencing this year will need to be addressed first. On the bright side, with my crazy February travel schedule, this will give me more time to prepare for 2012 photography contest. I have a great idea in mind for my innovative submission, but I still need more time to collect all the pieces I need. Hopefully, I will be able to share this with you early next year.