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Wassail is essentially a ceremonial spiced cider drink made with an array of ingredients, such as sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, apples, oranges, etc.
The drink is served hot and was traditionally enjoyed during the act of ‘wassailing’ — a ceremonial singing and drinking ritual started in southern England to ensure a good apple harvest for cider in the upcoming year. This festival usually took place amongst the trees of an orchard.
Today the drink is more popularly based with wine or fruit juice, adding brandy, sherry or an ale in some recipes.
As part of the Holiday in Paris activities this year the Paris Main Street Committee is introducing the first ever Wassail Fest to the historic downtown.
From 1-4pm on Saturday, December 8, the citizens of Paris will have the opportunity to judge the inaugural Wassail Fest, as participating businesses serve their own Wassail recipe to customers. They will then vote on their favorite for a chance to win a gift basket filled by those participating.
“To provide a winter counterpart to our well-received Art & Wine Fest in April, we are hosting Wassail Fest to get holiday shoppers into your business,” stated Main St. Promotion Committee Chair, Britin Bostick.
There is no cost to businesses for participation; you are only asked to provide an item from your business, such as an item or gift card, for the prize basket as an incentive for customers to visit many different stores.
Main Street will provide cups, ballot boxes and ballots to every participating business. Each business will make their own Wassail and provide it to customers to taste. They will then rate your Wassail on a ballot with a scale from 1 to 5 — five being the best.
The customers will be asked to visit a minimum number of stores for their ballot to be entered into the drawing for the Prize Basket. Each customer will also be asked to initial each vote to prevent ballot stuffing.
“When a customer visits the minimum number of stores they can drop their ballot in a box or continuing tasting,” according to Bostick. “Their ballot will be entered into a drawing for the gift basket. There is no cost for customers to participate.”
If a customer has not visited the minimum number of stores to qualify for the gift basket drawing, their ballot choices will still count in the voting.
Ballots will be collected between 4:00-5:00pm by a Main Street volunteer and tallied and verified at the City of Paris office. The business with the highest score will be crowned “Wassail Meister” for the year.
Wassail recipes can include alcohol, but please make a sign that indicates whether there is alcohol included and serve responsibly.
The deadline to declare participation for businesses is Thursday, November 29, at 5pm, so get your Wassail gear and recipe ready. There are advance preparations necessary in planning for the event, so no entrants will be accepted after the deadline.
Wassail Fest t-shirts will also be available to participating business at $12 each — t-shirts are optional. If you’d like shirts, specify quantity and size in your request to participate. Checks should be made out to Paris Baby, who will be making the festival shirts.
For Questions or to participate, please contact Britin Bostick Main Street Promotion Committee Chair (512) 496-0572 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.