How to Eat Your Way Through Festival Season
Beginning this weekend, you’re not going to be able to turn around without running into some kind of street fair. Which means more-than-ample opportunity for eating with your hands. But you need to be smart about it. You can only consume so many calories. Allow us to show you the way.
By Christine Olley
The old saying goes, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” but with the overloaded slate of festivals, and their smorgasbord-like food courts, on the horizon, it would be downright wrong to discriminate. Here, a rundown of the most appetizing gatherings across the region over the coming weeks.
Chester County’s playing host to two major food-centric festivals over the next month, the long-running Kennett Square Mushroom Festival this weekend and the biannual Phoenixville Food Festival October 1.
The former is a bit of everything—demos, cook-offs, eating (of course), even exhibits—packed into one nonstop weekend. Whether you go for an hour or set up camp, just don’t forget to buy mushrooms to go. They’ll be sold in front of the east and west gates and the growers’ exhibit. The latter is far more straightforward, though way more diverse: 30 trucks (and counting), covering every conceivable niche, from Caribbean-American soul food to Liege-style waffles.
Don’t be deceived by the name. Hit the Doylestown Arts Festival this weekend for the local art and the artisanal goods, but stay for the food. Two food courts will be crammed with the usual festival fare—sausages, fries and ice cream, oh, my—along with samplings from Doylestown’s textured restaurant scene and a bevy of food trucks. This may be the one street festival that doesn’t disappoint a vegetarian.
Yardley Harvest Day, the following Saturday, Sept. 17, is evolving into the ultimate collection of the region’s most promising small-batch foodstuff makers, from Bucks County Cookie Company and Carol’s Pizzelles to Gourmet Jelly and Jak Jeckel Pepper Sauce. There’ll be Brewscuits, too, for your four-legged best friend. You’ll owe him for panting patiently at your side throughout this shopping/tasting spree.
Peddler’s Village, in Lahaska, can always be counted on for some seasonal gorging. OctoberFEAST, October 15 and 16, delivers an onslaught of German specialties, including, most notably, bratwurst pork schnitzel and the ever-delectable Bavarian crème pie. A couple weekends later, on November 5 and 6, it’s Apple Festival, complete with a pie-eating contest, which’ll be divided by age, naturally. I mean, what satisfaction is there in out-eating an eight-year-old—again?
Not enough to eat local? You need to see where it comes from, too? Then plan to head to Bethlehem Sept. 17 for the Monocacy Farm Food Festival, where you’ll be able to munch on a smattering of stuff grown on the 10-acre organic farm as you tour the grounds. The Monocacy Farm Project, which the festival benefits, was established a few years ago. Under its umbrella resides a CSA, community gardens, all-ages educational programming and a community service garden dedicated to supporting low-income families, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the TASTE Philadelphia Festival of Food, Wine and Spirits October 21 through Oct. 23 at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, because, full disclosure, we’re a media sponsor. Every day’s loaded with celebrity chef demos, featuring the likes of Charles Oakley (yep, that Charles Oakley), Ashley Sherman (lead cook from “Hell’s Kitchen,” season 13) and Will Brown (a frequent enabler on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”). And they’re not even the headliners. That’d be Ayesha Curry, whose demo is Oct. 22, and Kevin O’Leary, who’ll be hosting a tasting of his wines Oct. 21.