Las Vegas, NV— Yesterday, I paid 18 volunteers for seven hours of manual labor with nothing but Subway and tea. I think that attests to how powerful the allure of tea can be. You see, we are putting on a tea festival here in Sin City and there is an exciting movement happening around us. People want this festival to succeed so badly, they are willing to scrub floors and wash windows for sandwiches and some cold brew. That’s heady stuff.
Back in 2012, myself and a partner wanted to put together a tea festival for Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Tea Fest was held in early November on a freezing Saturday (I think it was in the 40’s when we first opened the doors and that’s cold to us desert dwellers). We had just over 320 people attend, about 13 exhibitors, and a handful of tea classes including a green tea tasting and a tea and chocolate pairing. It was an incredible gathering of tea in Las Vegas, but tea businesses were still in their infancy here and we opted to hold off for a few years before hosting another festival.
Fast forward a few years, and Elyse Petersen, of Tealet fame, and I decided to team up to put on another festival here in Vegas. We tossed some ideas around, including adding coffee to the mix, and finally came up with the Southwest Tea Fest. Our primary goal was to gather tea brethren from all over the Southwest US to showcase the tea gems we have to offer to residents of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Our secondary goal was to make this festival different from other festivals that are all over the US.
Elyse knew from the start that there needed to be a musical element to it. We do entertainment well here and so we opted to combine our tea offerings with an all-day music festival. We have 11 different bands and musicians that will be performing throughout the day, including Grammy nominated Youssoupha Sedibe.
The building we are hosting the festival in used to be the main Transportation Center in Downtown. It has a copper dome, copper ceilings, amazing woodwork, and hosts a weekly Farmers Market. It’s one of the coolest looking buildings in the area and we are excited to use it as our backdrop. We could have easily opted to rent out hotel conference space but we wanted a certain feel to the festival and this building helps us capture some of that vintage Vegas vibe and energy of the city.
We’re also going to have yoga classes running throughout the day, presentations on everything from US grown tea to the sensuality of tea, and both a Gong Fu and Wu Wo tea ceremony demonstration. We have 21 exhibitors cupping and sampling their teas and a ceramics group that will be throwing tea bowls and cups in live demonstrations. We’ve even got a face painter that will gladly place a teacup or tea leaf on your cheeks!
If you happen to be in Las Vegas on February 27th, this is your official invite to join the SW Tea Fest. Festivities begin at 10:00am on Saturday, February 27th, 2016, at the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market, right in the heart of vibrant Downtown Las Vegas. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased ahead of the event at http://www.swteafest.com/. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door the day of. We look forward to seeing you there!