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 $1,002,250–both directly to people in need or 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, inspired by the success of last year’s Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Are tickets still available?
General Admission tickets are still available and can be purchased here.

I have questions about tickets I’ve already purchased. Who do I call?
Please contact Allison Lott at or 713-269-9691.

How does the check-in process work?
All tickets are electronic this year, and your name (and your guests names, if you entered them) are on our list. Upon check-in, you’ll receive a wristband if you’re over 21, and VIP ticket holders will receive a lanyard that grants them entry into the Lexus VIP areas.

What time does Will Call open?
Will Call will open at 1pm. If you’d like to come early and check in to receive your wristband and/or VIP lanyards, you can walk right in when the gates open.

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 purchased a VIP ticket. When/where do I pick up my gift bag?
We will distribute VIP bags at the Lexus VIP tent near the entrance/exit. You can pick up your bags at any time during the event. We will be marking your VIP lanyard tag to confirm you have picked up your bag. If you have an all-access badge, you do not receive a gift bag.

I want to make a night of it. Do you have special rates at any local hotels?
The Four Seasons Hotel is our host hotel. They’ve graciously offered a $225/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