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Food & wine fest

Food and wine festivals, like this weekend’s Cornucopia event, are becoming big business. The Wall Street Journal reported on the phenomenon last summer, noting that companies that have nothing to do with the food and beverage industry see these festivals as marketing opportunities. Audi, United Airlines and Banana Republic were all part of last summer’s Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen. Aveda, Celebrity Cruises and American Express, which owns Food & Wine magazine, also took part in the Aspen festival. The Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln division chose the occasion to introduce its new Navigator sport utility vehicle. The attraction of food and wine festivals for companies that have nothing to do with food or wine is the demographics. The Journal describes people who attend these festivals as "a captive audience of well-heeled baby boomers." That’s the same demographic Intrawest is pursuing for real estate sales at its mountain resorts. Stratton, in Vermont, one of Intrawest’s stable of resorts, hosted a food and wine festival this past summer. Nearby Stowe also held a food and wine festival. "These marketers are responding to a boomlet in food festivals, which are becoming for ’90s sybarites what craft fairs were for an earlier generation," the Journal states. A 1995 survey of people who attended the Aspen food and wine festival showed an average household income of $247,000. Nearly all had attended college and 41 per cent had done post-graduate study. One food and wine festival organizer explained why baby boomers are attracted to such festivals: "We all have houses filled with stuff, and there’s less of a need to go out and buy things for home and office, or fashion and jewelry. This population now has the money and time to go off and take cooking classes and learn about the finer things in life, like wine."

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