The summer festival season has died down, but there is still one more festival to check out before the snow falls.
The new Feast! Festival and Tradeshow, Sunday and Monday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, aims to connect local food companies to both public and wholesale customers.
The event is sponsored by the Feast Local Food Network,a partnership of organizations, businesses and individuals interested in growing a sustainable, local and regional food system that encourages innovation.
"We really want to build the local food economy," said Jan Joannides,coordinating committee chairwoman for the festival. Part of the idea is to "increase interest and knowledge about what we have here (in this area) and also to build business-to-business relationships."
The Feast network pooled their resources to create what Joannides calls a "curated show," one that is clearly defined and focused. Thanks to the connections of the people involved in the Feast network, about 120 vendors will gather over the two-day show to sell their products and their ideas.
"We wanted to get the public there, but we also wanted to get the buyers there for the trade show day," Joannides said. Because these two goals are quite different, each day of the event is focused on one or the other.
Day 1of Feast! is titled Homegrown for the Holidays.Geared toward the everyday consumer, attendees should expect a festival-like atmosphere. There will be chef demonstrations on the main stage, children's activities, live music and lots of food to taste.
There are also drink tastings available for an extra charge. Wine and beer will be available, along with some local cider breweries and a gin brewer that will be offering tastings throughout the day. It won't be an expo so much as it will be a celebratory food festival.
Day 2,titled Grow It Make It,is geared toward building connections between local growers/makers and restaurants, schools and buyers. By bringing these two groups together, Joannides said the idea is to create a larger network of local producers.
In addition to the exhibitors, there are informational sessions featuring a variety of speakers and panels. With topics such as local food in schools, a "speed dating" for makers and buyers and information on how to navigate proper licensing, there is valuable information to be gained at the Monday trade show.
Even the Civic Center is getting into the spirit of things. The center will have concessions available throughout the day featuring special items sourced from local businesses.
"The other thing they're doing is going to try to become a minimal waste facility," Joannides said. "They're going to have composting bins and it's going to be the first time they've done that."
With more than 20 sponsors, including the Post-Bulletin Co. as the media sponsor, the Feast! festival is reaching a wide variety of subcultures, from health and fitness fiends to those who really like knowing where their food has come from, and including local restaurant owners and grocery store chains throughout the Midwest.