Wine glasses and water bottles sparkled in the afternoon sunlight at 1,000 place settings, as guests milled about and guitar music twanged lazily through the air.
However, this event was not about the settings, but the setting.
Dinner on the Bridge – the Gervais Street bridge – was held for the first time Sunday, offering guests a chance not only to take in spectacular views of the Congaree River but to sample delicacies from local chefs.
For Columbia residents Tete and Timmie Fulton, the dinner on the bridge, linking Columbia and West Columbia, was a chance to support local innovation.
“We tend to go to Charlotte or Atlanta for events like this, and when we heard one was right here in our town, we wanted to support it,” Tete Fulton said.
The fact that proceeds from the dinner will go to charitable causes – Congaree Riverkeeper, Canoeing for Kids and Harvest Hope Food Bank, according to event organizers – also was a draw, she added.
For Irmo residents Evan and McKenzie Johnson, the afternoon was all about good food.
“We just need to see local chefs doing good food and getting away from going out to Longhorns and the big multimillion-dollar restaurants,” Evan Johnson said.
For Shannon Mercer, owner of the Lexington winery Mercer House, Sunday provided a chance to do just that – show off his local brand.
The grapes grown in South Carolina wineries are muscadine grapes, which most wine aficionados think of as making a sweet wine, Mercer said. Mercer House has bucked that trend by making dry and semi-dry wines.
“We’ve chosen to make a wine that’s in a niche that nobody else seems to want to address,” he said.
The dinner sold out, according to www.gervaisstreetbridgedinner.com, with event organizers saying 1,000 people attended. An early promotion of the dinner noted ticket prices at $150 per person, $300 a couple.
Denise Holland, CEO of Harvest Hope Food Bank, praised the event.
“It was absolutely an honor and a blessing to be chosen as a charity to be a part of this,” Holland said. “I think this is major – historic.”
The amount of money raised was not available Sunday night.
Event organizer Emile DeFelice was not available Sunday, but Kaitlin Galloway, one of the helpers with Soda City, praised the work and thought DeFelice put into the dinner.
“Hopefully, it’s the first of many to come,” she said.
Participating restaurants included Bourbon Columbia, Rosso Trattoria Italia, Spotted Salamander, The Kingsman and Ristorante Divino, event organizers said. Southern Way Catering handled the logistics of set-up and service, River Rat Brewery supplied beer and Republic National Distributing Co. provided wine.
Staff Writer Susan Ardis contributed to this report.