Behind the scenes : The Oregon Wine Experience

Workers put up signage outside The Oregon Wine Experience tent (Trish Glose/News10)

This sneak peek inside The Oregon Wine Experience is a News10 Exclusive.

About a week before The Oregon Wine Experience kicks off in Jacksonville, Oregon, a massive white tent goes up in a large field at Bigham Knoll.

“We have just over 30,000 square feet in tents, a series of tents, one being very large, being 262 feet long, we take up the entire field,” Kimberly Hicks, with RSVP Event Group says.

Hicks has been in event planning for more than two decades. She got involved in The Oregon Wine Experience when the Asante Foundation got involved in 2013.

“We did the whole thing in about 90 days. It really was, I think, the most sleep deprived period of time, ever,” Hicks laughs, remembering that year’s event.

Things are a little different now. It takes a massive team, people from several organizations and businesses months of planning.

It’s not just people. An event of this size needs a lot of stuff.

To keep people cool, 31 fans and swamp coolers, some that are seven feet tall. To keep all the food cool, there are 11 walk-in refrigerators.

“17 restaurants and caterers, 35 chefs plus 40 additional culinary support staff, we have 250 tables, 1,400 table cloths, 1,000 chairs, 8,000 wine glasses, and over 100 wineries participate from across the state,” Hicks says.

There’s a full-time crew of about 20 people who do the set up and the take down, plus 300 volunteers that work the entire week of events. They put out wine glasses, serve food, make sure there’s plenty of water for guests, help decorate, assist with the live auction, put up signage and so much more.

“And we have close to 4,000 guests that will attend over 6 days. All in one event,” Hicks says.

“In addition to everything we have here, we do have a huge number of vendors who bring items to the event site, set it up and then take it away when we're finished,” Ashley Myers, with the Asante Foundation says.

About a week before the event, Myers, along with Cari Powell from RSVP Event Group go through the OWE storage room. The location is undisclosed, based on all the items in there.

“This is basically, the bits and baubles that help make this event run. It's glassware, it's items that have been donated, it's all the huge pieces and small pieces that we need in order to put on an event of this caliber,” Myers says.

A red carpet is laid out on the floor for the Medal Celebration, and there are what’s called “bid boards” for the action-packed Barrel Auction.

“We have racks to store things when we get on site, boxes of confetti cannons, we have spit buckets, we have boxwoods, those grass things that go up and make everything look pretty, Shepherd's hooks and their bases, we have barrel heads for all of our wineries and culinary partners, we have containers for our silent auction items to make all of that beautiful, there's a lot of stuff,” Myers says.

OWE consists, mainly of four events that span over four days. Each day and each event are completely different.

“Every day when you come to an event, you'll see the tent set up one way. And then when you come back the next day, we'll have completely torn down the lounges, the bars, all the seating arrangements and we'll completely set up a different arrangement the next day. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day,” Hicks says.

“So, it's keeping track of which glassware goes out which day. Do we have a thousand metal forks and knives and spoons, but then do we also have the 6,000 individual plastic items that we're going to need, 6,000 forks, 6,000 spoons, 8,000 plates, that same amount of napkins, so it's pretty substantial,” Myers says.

The amount of help needed to get everything ready for each event is also substantial. The glasses, for instance, are constantly being washed.

“We have dishwashers that basically just operate day after day, washing all the glasses, so we really hope that people take their wine glasses home. I tell people that all the way through the event. Please take you wine glass home because we don't want to wash it,” Hicks laughs.

A few days before the kick-off event, the wine arrives or, in essence, the star of the show.

“I hadn't really thought about it like that, so thanks for adding to the stress,” Myers jokes, “But yeah, that’s very true. Between that and the food in my opinion, those are the markers if we've prepared and if we've done our jobs correctly.”

Over the event, somewhere around 1,400 to 1,500 bottles of wine will be opened.

“We have to be able to pull from every single one of the boxes and assemble for every single one of the days, so it has to be very organized so we can find everything easily,” Ava DeRosier, who chairs the Wine Service Committee says about all the bottles.

While many may focus on the wine and food at OWE, at the end of the day, it’s a fundraiser. 100% of the proceeds go back to the Children’s Miracle Network and other Asante Foundation health programs. Last year, OWE raised more than $1,300,000.

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