Five days, one island and over 100 types of wines. No, it's not a flashback of your preferably forgotten spring break. It's the 6th Annual Tybee Wine Festival, organized and benefitting the Tybee Post Theater.
Originally built in 1930 by the U.S. Army to screen movies for soldiers stationed at Fort Screven, the Tybee Theater was one of the first in the state of Georgia that had sound capabilities. In 1944, Fort Screven and its theater were declared surplus and sold, and the army last used the theater in 1945. Since then, the property changed hands numerous times, officially closing with a screening of the 1962 film “Shane.”
As with any building that falls into disrepair, there were talks of demolishing the historic theater. Enter the Friends of Tybee Theater, who began orchestrating renovations to save the island staple in the early 2000’s.
“We’ve had to shore up the building and replace the roof,” says Melissa Turner, executive director of the Tybee Post Theater. “What’s really left is to restore the auditorium to restore its splendor.”
Naturally, renovations cost quite a bit when you account for materials, labor, permits and unforeseen expenses. Bearing this in mind, the Tybee Post Theater thought to arrange a fundraiding event that was true to the island’s identity, showcasing local music, cuisine and an exceptional selection of wines.
Starting Wednesday, April 9, the Tybee Wine Festival will feature à la carte menu of events. Rather than buying a general festival pass, Tybeeans and visitors have the option to pick and choose which events tempt their tastebuds. Though waiting to buy tickets may be a fool’s errand considering the overwhelming support shown thus far.
Indeed, Wednesday’s inaugural event “Wining and Dining: The Art of Pairing”—hosted at the Tybee Island Social Club—sold out in just two days. Worry not, however: After seeing this zealous turnout, owners Kurtis and Sarah Schumm agreed to host a second “Wining and Dining” event to be held the following Thursday evening.
Admittedly, the thought of wine and food pairings may sound like an intimidating black tie affair, but nothing could be further from the truth.
“It’s true Tybee,” promises Turner. “You can come to any of these events in shorts and flip-flops.”
While the wine and food are the festival’s stars, it’s the after effects that should really rile you up. Currently, Tybee doesn’t have an entertainment venue that has both the size and historical significance as the Tybee Post Theater. Family vacationers and day trippers typically find themselves having to venture off-island to find the nightlife and cultural events they so desire.
It’s this problem the Post Theater seeks to remedy by eventually hosting plays as well as screening classic, independent and children’s movies as well as hosting poetry readings and live music. In typical island fashion, the Tybee Post Theater accomodates whatever is your pleasure—following renovations, of course.
“Hopefully it’ll end up being Tybee’s Civic Center,” says Turner. “We hope to draw Savannahians to the island on a more frequent basis.”
In the words of Tybee Tourism Council’s Keith Gay, “Tybee Wine Festival is the perfect opportunity to sip one-of-a-kind vino and sample delicious coastal cuisine with our beautiful beach at your feet.”
So Savannah, clear your evening plans for the week, choose your favorite events from the line-up, grab your commemorative glass and make a toast to restoring history.