At Saint Martin’s University’s 29th annual Capital Food and Wine Festival, eating and drinking are just the beginning.
Saturday’s festival, organized by the university’s alumni association, offers more than 100 wines to taste, plus beer, hard cider and food from local restaurants, including Ricardo’s Kitchen and Bar, Budd Bay Cafe and South Bay Dickerson’s BBQ.
The festival also is a place for listening, with music on three stages. Among those performing this year are singer-songwriter Ethan Tucker, who competed in 2016 on NBC’s “The Voice,” and festival favorite Father George Seidel, a philosophy professor and jazz pianist.
Depending on the weather, the event typically draws between 3,000 and 5,000 people, said event spokesperson Stacey Gracen.
“We’re hoping for a wet day, so that people actually want to come inside,” she said. (Forecasts indicate the university’s wish may come true: There is a chance of rain Saturday.)
Olympia native Tucker is the event’s headliner, as he was last year. On “The Voice,” judge Miley Cyrus said he has the voice of a “gravelly angel,” and he has toured with Michael Franti, who produced his 2015 album “Misunderstood.”
“Ethan is going to be a perennial artist for a lifetime of music,” Franti is quoted on Tucker’s website. “He is going to be an artist to me like Ben Harper or Jack Johnson or even John Lee Hooker — an artist who plays music until they can’t play anymore.”
Seidel, who’s been part of Saint Martin’s since he began high school there in 1946, could be described the same way. He’s been honored as the college’s longest-serving faculty member, but he was playing piano long before he started teaching in 1962.
“I play by ear,” he said in a recent phone interview. “My mother played by ear, and I watched her. I may have inherited a good musical ear.”
He’s well known to local jazz fans, having played every Friday night for more than a decade at Ben Moore’s in downtown Olympia, a gig that ended a few years ago when the restaurant changed hands. And he’s part of Professors Three, which recently played a benefit for the Nisqually Land Trust.
He’s also a fixture at the festival, where old friends and former students stop by to chat while he plays.
“If I’m playing something that’s almost automatic, I can carry on somewhat of a conversation,” he said. “If it’s a more difficult piece with more complicated chord changes, it’s distracting.”
He enjoys attending the festival and said the majority of his fellow monks will be there Saturday as well.
“Usually, I have a glass of wine sitting on the piano,” he said. “Usually I don’t do the food — just a glass of wine or two.”
The festival will offer pours from 36 wineries in the Marcus Pavilion. All but one — Abiqua Wind, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley — are Washington winemakers, and several are local, said Tom Barte, the event’s wine chairman.
“Many of these wineries have been with us for years,” he said. “They offer a lot of selections that have become crowd pleasers.”
Beers from about a dozen microbreweries as well as hard ciders also will be available in the pavilion, where the main stage is located.
Rarer and more expensive wines can be sampled in the Worthington Center, rebranded for the day as RJ’s Wine Cellar. That’s also where dessert is available and where Seidel will play from noon to 3 p.m.
For fans of sports and beer, O’Blarney’s Irish Pub operates a pop-up sports bar in an adjoining tent.
“They’re bringing their own beer to serve out there,” Gracen said. “They’ll have live bands and March Madness on TV.”
Capital Food and Wine Festival
What: The 29th annual festival, a fundraiser for scholarships and capital improvements at Saint Martin’s University, offers tastes of more than 100 wines, plus beer, hard cider, food and live music on three stages.
When: Noon-9 p.m. Saturday
Where: The campus’ Marcus Pavilion and Worthington Conference Center at 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey
Tickets: $15 online through Friday, $20 at the door; includes souvenir glass and $5 toward purchase of food or beverages. Children younger than 12 are admitted free.
- Carolena Matus Jazz Group, 1-3 p.m.
- Off Boulevard (swing and jazz), 3:30-5:30 p.m.
- Ethan Tucker (singer-songwriter blending roots music, soul and blues), 6:30-8:30 p.m.
O’BLARNEY’S POP-UP SPORTS BAR
- Hook Me Up (jazz), 4-6 p.m.
- Been There Done That (1960s-1980s classics), 6-8:30 p.m.
- Father George (jazz piano), noon-3 p.m.
- Marty Beagle and Friends (singer-songwriter-guitarist), 4-8:30 p.m.