Historic downtown Wharton might have been the subject for a Norman Rockwell painting this past Saturday, Oct. 12 when downtown merchants hosted the 11th annual Monterey Square Wine and Arts fair. 

The weather was just about perfect when shops opened. Visitors were out and about with wine tastings beginning at 4 p.m. with cash registers ringing at the ticket booth as well as in local shops. 

Live music, food trucks and crafts were sprinkled throughout for guests. 

Charlotte Brown with Georgia Mae’s Good Eats has brought her food truck to Wharton for many events and remarked that she and her team had a wonderful time.

“I’m serious,” she said, “Wharton has the friendliest people, every time we come y’all just have the friendliest people.” 

Terry Lindsey, owner of Bohemian Rhapsody II, said her store was packed throughout the event. Ticket sales were brisk this year with attendance exceeding that of the past several events. 

Attendees sampled wine from boutique wineries Lavaca Bluffs, Majek Vineyards and San Ducerro vineyards, purchased beer and wine from the Plaza Theatre and enjoyed wine flights with artisan cheese trays at Provisions Bistro and market. 

Brent Yaschuk introduced Sweetness Honey and bee pollen to festival attendees. The Yaschuk’s have hives in Needville and recently acquired and are maintaining hives from Steve Hutchinson’s Too Sweet Honey in Boling. 

Musicians set up in front of the Plaza Theatre and just outside Alyssa’s Kisses on Fulton Street brightening the atmosphere and had festival goers singing and dancing. 

Annie Lominac, owner of Collector’s Alley and Wharton Downtown Business Association’s (WDBA) newest board member, worked on the committee organizing this year’s festival and noted she’d heard nothing but great feedback from merchants and attendees.

The historical commission again gave tours of the restored 1889 Wharton County Courthouse throughout the afternoon and early evening. Response from the public was good as some visitors were local residents who had never been inside the building. 

“Many people do not realize that Wharton County Courthouse was, at one time the single most endangered historic courthouse in Texas,” said commission chair Patricia Blair.

Restoration was a contentious issue for many years, but thanks to the efforts of a small group of preservations and funding from both the county and Texas Historical Commission, the courthouse now looks as lovely as it did in its earliest days. 

While still a very young organization, the WDBA has garnered support from across the community. 

Board chairman Debra Medina commended the many volunteers.

“This year a strong level of support from individuals and businesses have underwritten most of the costs of the festival allowing the ticket proceeds to be utilized for improvements to the downtown area,” Medina said. 

The WDBA is chartered to foster economic, social and civic welfare in historic downtown Wharton. The group invites the public to visit downtown often with another opportunity for community this Thursday during the monthly Third Thursday Walkabout. Historic downtown is great for strolling, catching up with friends, people watching, shopping and dining. Participating merchants remain open until 7 p.m. 

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