Over 20 local residents stood cramped on a stage Saturday afternoon waiting anxiously to begin the grape stomp competition at the 16th annual Florida A&M University Grape Harvest Festival. The twelve teams, one of which had FAMU’s Provost Marcella David, stood in front of wooden buckets full of grapes to compete in mashing grapes from the FAMU grape vineyard with their feet for a grand prize.
The grape stomp competition was one of the most anticipated events of the festival meant to highlight the work of FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS).
Held at the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research, the festival was a chance to “incorporate the community into what FAMU is doing for research,” according to Amelia Davis, coordinator of publication information services for CAFS. It displayed the work of students and faculty, letting community members wander the grape vineyard and learn more about what goes into the work of CAFS.
“As far as creating the wine, they’re doing research on different types of grapes,” Davis said. “Having everyone going to the vineyard — a lot of people didn’t even know we had a winery here.”
Aside from the grape stomp competition, most of the other festival attendees spent time picking the FAMU student grown grapes, or tasting the curated wine.
In the opening ceremony of the festival, Mayor Andrew Gillum commended the CAFS for what he recognized as necessary research for FAMU and the world. Gillum noted the potential of the work that the CAFS is doing, saying it could be a form of entrepreneurship, not just for students, but for FAMU.
“I think what we undervalue what is happening here: the research and development, which can quite frankly could be turned into merchandise and enterprises that brings revenue, resources to this institution and lessens our reliance on the state university system,” Gillum said.
Rep. Alan Williams also spoke during the opening ceremony about the FAMU CAFS research trailblazing for people and entities all over the world.
“People come from all over to learn about our research,” Williams said. “The footprint of FAMU doesn’t just reside [in Tallahassee]. FAMU is moving across the state, but really it’s moving across the world, because everything that we do here can be replicated and so many folks come to us.”
The festival was more than just grapes, though, there was also a health fair open to local residents to learn about the plethora of opportunities for medical care and aid throughout Tallahassee.
Sponsors for the event included Pepsi, Costco, Metz Food Services, WANM 90.5 The Flava Station, FAMU’s Army and Navy ROTC, Tallahassee Magazine, Cumulus Tallahassee and more.