Are there certain words, phrases, or pictures that capture your attention almost instantaneously? When I scroll through my social media, I’m usually drawn to anything with pets, the Caribbean, and of course, rum. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see an upcoming festival that is not too far away from me and more importantly, where I can drink rum AND support the local community.
The SoLa Food, Wine, & Rum Festival is a fairly new event to South Florida that began as a pop-up during last year’s Hospitality Week held by the Lauderhill Regional Chamber of Commerce. SoLa is the brainchild of Maria Munro, previous president to the Lauderhill Regional Chamber of Commerce, and now business owner that specializes in events. SoLa aims to bring a greater presence to Central Broward County while providing an opportunity to sample a great representation of the cultural diversity within Lauderhill. As part of the Visit Lauderhill endeavor, and held during a Taste of Lauderhill week, the city is excited to spread Floribbean culture through cuisine, drink, and music.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with marketing chair to SoLa, Natasha, about the importance of this event. Beyond drawing attention to the various participants of the event, there is a desire to highlight the best of what Lauderhill has to offer. The strong Caribbean and Latin American presence within the city should give reason for visitors to see South Florida beyond its beaches, or the nearby cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Admittedly, Lauderhill is not a place that comes to mind when I think of where I would direct visitors to the area. There is, however, a great Caribbean community that does offer comfort food to visiting West Indians, large venues such as Central Broward Park and Stadium that will welcome some of the most festive of events such as the Miami-Broward Carnival J’ouvert where thousands of paint/power/mud-covered revelers party behind huge sound-system ladened trucks, or T20 Cricket matches which are a large draw.
Perhaps not as well known for South Floridians is the year-old Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. A 47,585 square foot facility that currently hosts a variety of events including the SoLa Food, Wine, & Rum Festival. The event will be held on February 11th from 6:00-10:00 PM. In addition to local food vendors, there will be on-hand experts that will guide visitors as they sample domestic and international wines, and my favorite, rum distillery representatives (and samples) from the Caribbean and Latin America. As of this writing, I am able to state the rums will come from Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad, but to not be surprised with other countries represented. I will provide updates as they are passed along.
Tickets are available for general admission as well as VIP on Eventbrite. For a limited time, however, discounted tickets for general admission may be found on Groupon. There are a few vendor opportunities available at the time of this post. Please reach out to the SoLa Food, Wine, Rum Festival by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
General admission includes sampling tickets for each rum and wine station; some of which will provide small paired goodies. The VIP Experience is a limited capacity option that Natasha describes as, “casual but elevated,” and includes a cocktail hour, a 3-course sit-down meal with wine pairings, a musical guest, and an educational experience to help guide you through your pairings. Both options will provide plenty of fellow food, wine, and rum enthusiasts and entertainment including a Junkanoo band.
As a proponent to support our local communities in any way that we can, one of the most enjoyable ways we can do so is to support quality events that will help our local businesses. The Floribbean culture throughout South Florida is something that many wish they could experience, especially at this time of the year. Let’s spend a fun evening of drinks and food, and if you are able to come out, please reach out and don’t be a stranger!