Frequently Asked Questions

Where’s my money going?
Chris Shepherd launched Southern Smoke in 2015 after learning his friend and former sommelier Antonio Gianola was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. To date, Southern Smoke has donated more than $1.3 million–both directly to people in need and to organizations that represent the needs of people in our industry like Antonio. As Chris says, Southern Smoke was created to “take care of our own.”

This year, the Southern Smoke Festival will once again benefit the MS Society in honor of Antonio, as well as Southern Smoke’s year-round Emergency Relief Fund for people in the food and beverage industry.

When do tickets go on sale? 
Tickets go on sale Tuesday, August 6 at noon (CT). They can only be purchased at

What’s the difference between a VIP ticket and a general admission ticket? 
A VIP ticket includes early entry at 3pm, access to VIP lounges with premium wines and liquor, and a gift bag. A general admission ticket includes all food and drink inside the festival.

If I buy a ticket to Chris Shepherd’s Houstonian Hoot’Nanny on October 4, can I also attend the festival on October 6? 
The Hoot’Nanny is a separate event from the festival, so if you want to attend both events, you’ll need to purchase a ticket to each.

Is the event kid-friendly?
We will be checking IDs at the door, and you must show your ID to enter and drink alcohol. Anyone over the age of 3 must purchase a ticket. Strollers are not permitted. There are no discounts for a child’s ticket.

What happens if it rains?
This event is rain or shine. The event will not be rescheduled, and we will not issue refunds.

Where do I park?
We will offer valet parking (enter at Missouri and Commonwealth), but space is limited. We strongly suggest you consider an alternate form of transportation (Uber, taxi, get your mom to drop you off).

Can I come and go from the event?
There is no re-entry.

I want to make a night of it. Do you have special rates at any local hotels?
The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa is our host hotel. They’ve graciously offered a $239/night rate for Southern Smoke guests. Click here for booking information.

I’m interested in being a Southern Smoke sponsor. Who should I contact?

Please contact executive director Kathryn Lott at