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Winefest canceled, organizers say restaurant staffing shortage to blame

Smaller events will take place on Sept. 24 and 25 in Des Moines.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Winefest Des Moines, a festival that celebrates wine, local restaurants and community, is cancelling their large events scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25.

As Iowa Pork Sips & the City and the Willis Grand Tasting approached, it became clear that vendors simply couldn't make it happen. Companies are putting events on pause, and winemakers aren't doing tastings.

"In additional to having trouble with winemakers and wine vendors, there has also been a huge crisis with restaurants and staffing," Winefest Executive Director Natasha Sayles said. "We kept talking to supporters who always attend out events who are just too short staffed to serve food for a few thousand people, unfortunately."

Sayles and the Winefest board of directors decided to cancel the week-long festival that serves 4,500 people. Instead, they will host two smaller events.

Pork + Pinot  is Sept. 24 at Cowles Commons. Spend the evening sipping wine and sampling swine-centric cuisine at this professional pork competition. 

The Unexpected Cellar is Sept. 25. The location won't be announced until a week before the event. Follow down the rabbit hole for an evening where things are not always as they seem.

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Tickets are on sale, but limited. Information can be found here

Sayles said even if you can't attend the smaller events at the end of the month, you'll still be able to support Winefest.

"There will be more to come. We're going to keep drinking wine, eating delicious food, and keep supporting our local establishments in a way that uplifts them and doesn't do undue burden to them," Sayles said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Natasha Sayles is the sister of Local 5's Sabrina Ahmed.

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