Several of downtown Sherman’s streets turned into sidewalks Saturday night, allowing wine and food enthusiasts to socialize, stroll and sample the offerings of area restaurants and Texas wineries.
The seventh annual Stroll on the Square was organized by Downtown Sherman NOW and featured a lineup of 12 wineries and 12 restaurants, all hosted by businesses dotting the the city’s center. Downtown Sherman NOW Executive Director Karen Tooley said more than 600 tickets were purchased this year, marking another attendance record and signaling to organizers that the event was fulfilling its mission to get more foot traffic into the downtown area.
“We are four times as large as we were when we started,” Tooley said in terms of turnout. “That was seven years ago, and back then, we were just trying to think of a festival that would draw a large number of people and a large number of people from out of town. We knew that if they saw our downtown and enjoyed the experience, then there’d be a good chance we’d see them later. And more and more people keep coming back.”
Tooley said the one constant of the event has been a great lineup of wineries from both the Texoma region and from across the state. But Tooley said the event really hit its stride several years in, when organizers began to include local, culinary creatives.
“We’ve been inviting wineries from all over the area and from even as far as Lubbock,” Tooley said. “But we also started to see this as a real opportunity to showcase area restaurants and caterers. So four years ago, Heather LaRosa of Fulbelli’s helped us introduce Texoma’s Best Bites. It gives invited restaurants and caterers the chance to come in and really show off all their flavors, creativity and skills.”
Nora Whitmire attended the stroll on behalf of the Grayson College Viticulture and Enology Program and poured samples of various wines, including a tempranillo and a mango-tangerine-infused white. Whitmire said while there are many popular and well-established pairings of food and wine, she felt it was important that wine and food lovers explore their many options and find their own favorites.
“Everybody’s palette is different,” Whitmire said. “Don’t limit yourself and find the flavors that you like together.”
A number of musicians were also invited to perform at the event. Tooley said organizers set up multiple stages throughout the event grounds so participants could also sample some sweet sounds as they bounced from one tasting to another.
“Our first year, we had one main band on one main stage, but we found that people were more inclined just to stroll by on the way to their next wine stop,” Tooley said. “It wasn’t as easy for them to enjoy the music, so we have found more musical acts and this year we have six stages. And what you hear from one stage to the next can change a lot.”
Mitchell and Deron McCraw said they had attended the stroll several times before and were glad to return this year with friends and their dog Stanford. The pair said they enjoyed the wine, but were just glad to spend time with their friends and see the community turn out for a night of fun.
“Food, wine, and art? It’s a party,” Mitchell McCraw said.