There are many wonderful perquisites of being a member of the International Wine & Food Society, but one of the best is the ability to participate in large gatherings of like-minded people for the celebration of wine, food and friends, over a period of days, in a lovely location. The IW&FS sponsors an international festival once every three years, somewhere around the world, in Cape Town, South Africa in 2009, and Vancouver, British Columbia in 2012. Each region also sponsors programs for members in their home regions. Most all of these regional events are opened to members from outside the sponsoring region. In addition to regional festivals, IWFS Americas Inc. also sponsors cruises at popular locations around the world.
The concept of an IW&FS "festival", formerly called "convention" until the mid-1980s, was to celebrate all that is special at one destination. Certainly, the best of wine and food is offered, with top winemakers and chefs demonstrating their oenological and culinary skills. But, typically, it's more. Attendees learn what fresh foods flourish in the locale, what game and fish are most readily available, what different cooking styles are endemic to that location, how the history of the area had had an impact on the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Festivals are special in this way. They hook us up with new friends who also enjoy the many benefits of true dining, but they also hook us in to what the festival destination is all about.