Bud Kennedy

Food, literary festivals aren’t big money, just big fun

Place settings during a 2014 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival event.
Place settings during a 2014 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival event. Star-Telegram

Fort Worth is hosting a couple of little nonprofit festivals.

Very nonprofit.

The Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival cleared $40,000 in its first year, paying two students’ way through junior college.

“Our goal was to provide one scholarship,” director Russell Kirkpatrick of Reata said.

“Everybody told us to be ready to lose money.”

In their rookie year, the restaurateurs at least did better than Wildcatter Exchange, a writers’ festival that also returns this weekend on South Main Street.

Wildcatter Exchange, legally a historical society, has yet to raise any money.

“It’s more like, ‘Let’s put on a show,’” said moviemaker and storyteller Tom Huckabee, director of the festival that celebrates authors and screenwriters and now includes playwrights, bloggers and entertainers.

For example, the Saturday panels include football’s Chuck Curtis, TV reporter Bobbie Wygant and former Jack Ruby stripper Tammi True. (Not together.)

Wildcatter also has a tribute to late Texas author Elithe Kirkland and a talk on civil-rights leader Cesar Chavez’s birthday.

New York author Brian Abrams comes home to talk about his book Party Like A President, a history of Oval Office drinking with cocktail recipes.

“I’m flattered they asked me,” he said Thursday.

“There’s this eccentric mixture of writers. It feels authentic, like Fort Worth.”

Huckabee and filmmaker Mark Nobles plan for Wildcatter to benefit school arts programs.

Both festivals include out-of-town guests: chuckwagon chef Tom Perini and Central Texas pitmasters at the food festival, National Public Radio reporter John Burnett and Austin actor Turk Pipkin at the literary event.

“We just want everybody to come and celebrate what we have in Fort Worth,” Huckabee said.

Around here, that’s a mission statement.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy