The reason most people go to the Gettysburg Wine and Music Festival is to, well, drink wine, said Carrie Stuart, president of the Gettysburg and Adams Chamber of Commerce.

With around 25 Pennsylvania wineries and 40 arts and craft vendors on hand, around 7,000 people will attend this weekend at the Gateway Gettysburg Complex, she said.

But do you need to love wine to enjoy the two-day festival? The answers might not be what you think.

Some believe the atmosphere trumps the wine

Jeff Darling, who lives in Gettysburg, was sitting in a lawn chair under a tent, drinking water instead of wine.

"I enjoy the music part of the festival more," he said. "My wife enjoys the wine. I told her I would be the designated driver."

Darling has been going to the festival with his wife and friends for the past three years now, he said. A fan of soft rock and jazz, the music that usually performs is right up his alley, he said.

"This is such a big event, and we don't get to go out a lot anymore, so we try and go for at least one day just to do something different," he said.

Tim Royer, from Hagerstown, Maryland, will drink some of the wine but still prefers a Yuengling, he said.

"I can stomach a glass or two, but when I go home I'm watching some baseball and drinking a beer," he said.

It's all about the wine

Sherri Thompson hasn't missed the festival since it started 11 years ago, she said.

The Gettysburg resident said being able to test out different local spirits is what makes the festival so much fun.

"This area is such a beautiful place to make wine," she said. "I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't want to try it."

Thompson's husband, Rick Thompson, echoed her statement.

"I'm not sure why you would come out if you didn't like wine," he said.

While State College was getting set to host its first Penn State football game of the season, Amanda Smith drove down from the area to test out the festival for the first time, she said.

Smith used to live in Hanover and moved to State College a few years ago, she said. She always regretted not going to the event when she lived here, she said. "When I saw the schedule set this year I said, 'You know what, I have to get a hotel and go,'" Smith said. "I've had some really good wine and hard cider. I definitely am glad I'm here."

Reconnecting with friends and family

Whether you like red wine, beer, soda, rap music or rock n' roll, the festival is a good time to spend with friends, said Lou Cosinger, a volunteer for the event.

"If you look around, there are groups of people laughing and enjoying the company of others," he said.

Brooke Jacobs just turned 21 Tuesday and wanted her birthday weekend to be spent at the festival, she said. Jacobs brought a group of her friends from college and her parents to take in the atmosphere and drink some wine, she said.

"My parents go every year and I thought this would be a good way to spend some time together," she said. "I have a lot of people here who haven't been to Gettysburg before and wanted to show them what we're all about."


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