"Taste of <name your town>" Food Fairs rant
A lot of places I've lived and visited do an annual "taste of" food festival, where restaurants set up booths and happy hungry hordes are welcome to come, hang out, eat, and of course, pay.
After bouts with several of these including in the town I live in now, I refuse to go anymore and think they're a scam, and not a way to showcase local restaurants at all. By the time entry fees and costs at each booth are added up, you find yourself paying $15 for 2 slices of pizza and 2 lemonades (as reported by friends recently). What's being sold is often not at all related to the restaurant and is included just a money maker. You're often stuck paying more than you would at the restaurant - and not for a taste so you HAVE to make a meal of whatever you've gotten. I can't get a little bit of soup/bread/whatever for $1 but instead must pay $4 or more and get a large serving.
For the most part I agree. I do not like to pay an entry fee only to then pay for overpriced food and drink. Most of the time it seems like restaurants that participate in this type of taste, at least in my area, are chains or restaurants that cater to the tourists. I have also been to tastes where there is only an entry fee, and all the food is free. I have to say those are my favorite.
In regards to what you describe as food not relating to the restaurant, I have worked for a restaurant, Italian, that participated in these tastes. In these instances, the chef felt like he could go out of the box a little because people didn't want heavy pasta on a warm day.
We have one in Nashua, NH. Tickets are $35...you don't have to pay for anything once inside. There were about 20 restaurants this year, 4-5 dessert locations, 2-3 places serving alcohol, and live music. It's a lot of fun and we definately eat our $35 worth. We make sure to hit up every place. And DH drank the alcohol...I'm pregnant so none for me this year.
That's unfortunate. A few on the gulf side of Florida -Cortez and Bradenton- have modest entry costs and is a great way to get $5 samplers of really good seafood preparations. The one in St. Pete last summer was free, and the performers included Pat Benatar on Saturday and Eddie Money on Sunday.
I agree 100%. I'm kinda OK with overpriced food at a fair - it's part of the whole experience - but I hate that you can't get small tastes, and that the actual found-on-a-local-menu offerings are scarce.
I enjoyed the MN version for the first two or three years, when it was all local restaurants, but then then it became overrun with the same fried-food vans that you see at any fair. Why does that always happen with community festivals? They start out local, and then gradually the crappy fair food pushes out the local offerings.
I remember going to the Cinco de Mayo festival a few years ago - on a street with dozens of Mexican businesses - and seeing insane lines for the ONLY Mexican food booth. Clearly, the organizers felt that Cinco de Mayo was best celebrated with corn dogs, fries, cotton candy, and funnel cake.
I must say, however, than this year's taste of Minnesota actually does offer one of the area's unique foods - the jucy lucy (though it's the misspelled version from the 5-8 Bar). But I certainly wouldn't go to the fair to try one...