Posts tagged ‘wine festival’

My “Midwest Food Fest Quest”

Alright, I’m a sucker for rhyming, but can you really blame me when it has to do with food festivals?

A few summers ago, I started to notice a number of food related food festivals in Minnesota. I am someone who, obviously, loves food, and I also have an affinity for random gatherings of strangers around shared interests. Even if you only directly interact with the food in your mouth, I think the feeling of interconnectedness I get at these events is quite fantastic.

Now, as I share with you the festivals I’ve found, you must promise to get out your calendar, pull up a search engine and find a food festival you will go to in the next year. Seriously, you’ll have a blast.

For me, my first food related fest was the Cannon Falls Wine and Art Festival. Not being one to turn down the chance to sample wine of any kind, I loaded my husband in the car and drove the hour or so down to Cannon Falls from the Twin Cities. The festival features Minnesota vineyards and wineries (yes, grapes do grow in places other than France and California), some of them which have been around for many years and others which have just arrived on the scene of viticulture. Some of them make traditional grape wines, while others venture into the world of berries and other fruits. Some are really good and others…well, let’s just say they need some aging. Either way, for only $20 you get quite a sampling of what Minnesota has to offer, which may not meet high expectations of a wine connoisseur, but does give you an idea of the creativity oenologists must have in northern climes. For more info on that topic, check out what the University of Minnesota has been doing in grape breeding for just over 30 years.

My next festival may, in fact, be my favorite, largely because who doesn’t love GARLIC? The Minnesota Garlic Festival is held annually every August in Hutchinson, Minnesota. For only $5, you can watch cooking demos featuring the area’s finest chefs, dine at The Great Scape Cafe, sample dozens of kinds of garlic from as many vendors and purchase a supply of garlic that will last you until at least the following March. Leave the breath mints in the car and bring your appetite for fun because this one will leave you longing for more.

The last festival I went to that first year was the Warrens Cranberry Festival, which requires a jaunt over the river to Wisconsin for any Minnesota folks. Though not my favorite food festival,  it is an intriguing one to hit up. There are many cranberry foods to try (cranberry cream puffs anyone?) and activities (you must go on a bog tour, if for no other reason than to meet a cranberry farmer!), but be forewarned that this one is also SUPER busy and has a ton of vendors completely unrelated to cranberries, kind of like a giant flea market of sorts. But again, most festivals are worth checking out once, so if you’re in the area in September, consider a stop.

This summer I added a new festival to the list and it features one of my all time favorite summer foods, the ever-versatile rhubarb.

Rhubarb Fest tasting menu

The Annual Rhubarb Festival is well worth the drive to the lovely town of Lanesboro, Minnesota. Also know as the Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota, Lanesboro is located on the scenic Root River, which makes for a great backdrop for a tasty festival. When you go to the Rhubarb Fest, be ready to wait in line to taste test all the rhubarb recipes cooked up for that year – to give you an idea, they included everything from the classic Rhubarb Crisp to the more adventuresome Rhubarb Grillin Salsa. Also, don’t forget the entertainment – the Rhubarb Sisters  and rhubarb games. Definitely a fun event for the whole family. And lest I forget, be sure to take a walk down the street to check out Das Wurst Haus. Even if you’re like me and don’t eat brats, the homemade rootbeer and the possibility of an impromtu accordion performance by owner Arv Fabian are well worth it.

So, I realize this may seem like a random time of year to be thinking about summer food festivals, but I felt compelled to write this post today because I just came across the next festival on MY list – the Minnesota Cheese Festival. Though their event page may still be under construction, I’ve already budgeted for the $30 ticket and marked my calendar for next June 2nd.

Have you?

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November 2, 2011 at 11:00 pm 3 comments


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