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For the third year in a row, the Ocala Food and Wine Festival is returning to the World Equestrian Center (WEC). The event, which features celebrity chefs, food, wine, and more, will be held from November 3 through 5, 2023, with options available to attend the entirety of the weekend or to visit only on Saturday for the “Taste of Ocala” expo. And, since the WEC is home to the Equestrian Hotel as well, guests can make a weekend out of being immersed in the beautiful hotel and grounds while sipping and tasting their way through the festival.

Ocala is known as the Horse Capital of the World, and Marion County is home to more horses and ponies than anywhere else in the U.S. But Justin Garner, director of hospitality operations at the WEC and the Equestrian Hotel says the Ocala Food and Wine Festival is the perfect way to learn even more about the area.

There’s more to Ocala than horses,” Justin Garner, director of hospitality operations, tells Tampa Bay Date Night Guide. “The Ocala Food and Wine Festival shines a spotlight on some of the incredible culinary talent in the area and beyond.”

 

“Attending isn’t just an opportunity to indulge in some of the best cuisine, wine, and spirits around, but it’s a chance to support the community and inspire the next generation of culinarians as they engage with the chefs and industry experts,” Garner adds. “That impact is so meaningful for us in organizing this festival and is part of what draws celebrity chefs and world-class winemakers to us here in America’s horse country.”

Image credit: World Equestrian Center/Ocala Food and Wine Festival

What to know about the Ocala Food and Wine Festival

The Ocala Food and Wine Festival takes place from November 3 through 5, 2023, at the World Equestrian Center.

  • On Friday, November 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., there’s Barbecue, Bourbon and Blues, a welcome event where Ocala barbecue will be served along with bourbon tastings. Blues band Honey Hounds will play live as guests sip and eat to kick off the weekend. This event can only be attended as part of a ticket package for the entire weekend, not as a single event.
Image credit: World Equestrian Center/Ocala Food and Wine Festival

 

  • On Saturday, November 4, there’s Taste of Ocala, an expo with celebrity chef-led cooking demonstrations, food, wine, beer, and spirit samples, and a cooking competition.
  • A ticket just for this event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., can be purchased for $95.
  • At 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, guests who have purchased a full-weekend ticket package can attend a multi-course celebrity chef dinner.
  • The festival closes out on Sunday, November 5, with a live jazz brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (This event is only open to guests who have purchased a ticket package for the entire weekend.)
  • In addition to tickets for the Saturday-only portion of the event, guests can purchase two full-weekend ticket packages. The Four-Star Experience, priced at $295 as an early bird rate, includes admission to all events above. The Five-Star Experience, priced at $420 as an early bird rate, also includes an exclusive pre-dinner cocktail hour before Saturday evening’s chef’s dinner.
  • Early bird pricing is available through September 4.

Event proceeds will help support the Public Education of Marion County ProStart Program, which supports youth who are interested in the culinary industry in Marion County and beyond.

Image Credit: World Equestrian Center/Ocala Food and Wine Festival

Which chefs will be at the Ocala Food and Wine Festival?

Celebrity and local chefs will present cooking demonstrations and delicious food at the Ocala Food and Wine Festival. Chef Lorena Garcia, who has appeared on Top Chef Masters and America’s Next Great Restaurant, will cook up her signature Latin cuisine, while Yohan Le Bescond, the executive pastry chef at WEC will share his pastry-making talents with guests. James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Tim Hollingsworth is in the line-up, as well as pitmaster and Food Network star Rashad Jones and WEC master sommelier Roland Micu.

Want more getaway ideas? Check out our favorite getaways near Tampa Bay.

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