Boston Local Food Festival
Forgive me if I missed a post about this, but a search came up with no results. Tomorrow from 11-5 in Fort Point Channel there will be a local food fest with vendors selling local foods, all under $5. There will also be a beer ans wine tasting with local brews and wines.
I checked this out today and I thought it was fantastic. Most of the vendors were selling small plates for under $5 apiece - actually $3 for a small plate seemed to be the going rate - which was a good strategy and allowed for plenty of grazing. I had a pork taco with a radish slaw and salsa verde, on a single flour tortilla, which I think violates multiple sacred rules of taco construction, but whatever, it was delicious. I think it was from one of the hotel restaurants, not sure. Also tried a cider-braised pork slider with red cabbage slaw from ... some restaurant with 62 in the name. Delicious! (All the vendors had signs, but the branding was pretty low-key; maybe TOO low-key seeng as I can't quite remember the places I didn't already know.) A blueberry soda from Maine Root was tasty (and strangely, tasted better as it warmed up: bizarro-world soda). And Canto 6 had some terrific little pastries - I had a brioche with seckel pear and some cheese, and a mini-galette with apple and cranberry and streusel topping -- both were great.
Overall I thought the whole thing was very well-organized. There were tons of people there and it got pretty crowded under some of the tents, but there was much more open space along the edges. There were plenty of places to sit down and actually eat, so you didn't have to balance your plate and wander if you didn't want to. The best thing was that there were TONS of vendors - lots of restaurants and stores - Sherman Market had cookies and apple cider, City Feed had a great display with samples of local cheeses -- farms and community-supported fisheries -- a local grain mill! -- as well as cause-related booths (seeding Boston Harbor with oysters! I signed up) and other sustainable business ventures. There were also a number of demonstrations - cheesemaking, sprouts, butchering whole animals, which I saw in passing and looked really good. There might have been some logistical issues but most vendors seemed to have enough food, and the lines weren't generally too bad. My only suggestion would be to have a little more space under the tents but otherwise I thought it was excellent. It would be great to have something like this several times a year. The Boston Public Market people had a booth - I hope they were taking notes, because this had a lot of the elements that could make a public market a really vital part of the city and not merely a tourist destination.
Was there as well, and agree with MichaelB that this festival was overall quite a success. Much bigger turnout than I thought (the perfect weather was probably helpful for this)....I had some sesame slaw which was nice, and a cheeseburger (which was OK)....I don't remember the name of either place that I bought these though.
But overall this event was great, and it's nice to see so much interest in local food!
I was there and enjoyed it despite the chaotic crowds. When did baby strollers get to be the size of a Honda? I had a decent sandwich and some salad, got lots of literature, signed up for a ton of mailing lists which I may regret and tried as many free samples as I could. The amazing weather obviously drew in the crowds. I agree that this proves what a strong interest there is in local foods and hope to see more of this kind of thing.
It was the location at the Children's museum that killed my interest in attending. I had a feeling that the space available there would make it cramped and uncomfortable and that it was meant to be more of a "family event" than food event. If strollers were an issue, I made a good decision to skip it.
I think you drew the wrong conclusion from the location - my sense is that they chose that spot because it offered plenty of vendor space, access from the boardwalk, harbor views, proximity to downtown and t-lines (red and silver), and plenty of benches and grassy spots for sitting. There was no obvious connection to the Children's Museum as far as I could tell. It was *absolutely* a food event, and while of course there were families there, I think it was actually geared more to adults than to kids. (My friends pointed out "baby goat!" and I thought they meant petting zoo - which I LOVE - but actually they meant butchering demo. Which was ALSO great.) As for strollers, I didn't notice any more problem with them than with the Segway tours that roll down the boardwalk.
The location was only in very small part "at" the Children's Museum - it stretched the whole way down the boardwalk from there to Seaport Boulevard and completely filled the open area beyond the museum building.
It was definitely mobbed, which was great to see but occasionally difficult to deal with. I didn't personally run into any problems with strollers the size of SUVs (a bane of my weekday commute on the 66 bus, where I've encountered up to THREE on a rush hour bus, but that's not really relevant here.) I actually had more trouble with adults just kind of clumping up and not paying attention to attempts to move through the crowd, and Barmy got pretty annoyed at the twosome who were completely blocking access to the petition to the governor in support of the Boston Public Market while discussing, at great length, their summer vacations.
In spite of all that, there was a huge variety of interesting prepared foods, lots of favorite local products and many others I'd never heard of before, and several organic farm stands, including Enterprise Farms introducing their new "mobile farm stand" which utilizes an old bus. It was a perfect day for the event and we had a fun time.
I think that the festival wasn't so much a lunch destination. In other words, it wasn't a food-eating festival. But it was a very successful combination of food vendors, food company stands, and food-related organization stands. I agree with MichaelB that it was absolutely a food event. But it wasn't purely an *eating* event - and to be fair, I thought the promotional material conveyed this very well.
As for the location, I thought it was great. It did get a bit crowded at times (especially around stands that were giving away things like free chocolate), but that was expected. It was easy to bike to, had good views, within walking distance of two T stops, and relatively easy parking nearby. I'm pretty sure this was the first time this festival has taken place, and given that, I thought it was executed really well.
I admittedly spent most of the festival at the beer tasting, but had two of the awesome pork and heirloom tomato sandwiches that Sportello was serving. Also tried out the new grilled cheese truck (blue cheese on raisin bread, delicious).
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I went earlier in the day (arrived by 11:30) and thought the entire festival was fantastic. I was surprised to see how many vendors were there. Many offering samples and little tastes. The number of farms and community outreach programs that were there was exciting too. I loved seeing the kids pulling up carrots and learning a little more about some of the local farms. The location was great (easy to park, easy to T, easy to walk) and the weather could not have been more perfect.
I will say that as we were leaving around 1p the crowd had definitely increased. Going inside a few of the tent rows started to get a bit difficult, but nothing that I wouldn't expect at a festival similar to this. Having the extra space on the hill and along the outside was a big plus when I started to get a little to squeezed in. I had one bad incident with a jumbo stroller and a big dog, but I'm not traumatized. Sometimes I don't understand why some people don't know that not all dogsare the best behaved pup around people and large amounts of food, but that is a rant for another time.
I have to applaud the efforts that went into making this a zero waste event. There were tons of recycling bins around and having volunteers at each station made everything that much less confusing. I also appreciated the water taps located around the festival.
Overall, a great day. I would definitely attend again and I will definitely show up early!
I agree with this post by agirlandhermutt and can not wait for the next one.
There were so many people helping out and that was great. Not sure where to put your trash? There were all kinds of smiling people in green t-shirts helping you decide which recycling bin to place it in.
My comment on the strollers had more to do with this topic in general terms and had nothing to do with the location being near the (wonderful) Children's Museum. Some of the kids in the strollers are three or four years old and the strollers are just huge. In a crowded place, I guess I would hope that the parents could bring a smaller version- or let their child walk if they are old enough? Just a general observation from me that has nothing to do with the venue but more to do with parents and stroller usage!
I loved having so many nonprofit organizations there and really enjoyed the educational aspects that they provided. Most of the people at those booths were helpful and welcoming. I picked up some very useful information. And the free water was really perfect.
The weather was stellar so the crowds were amazing. Had it been cold and raining, we'd be talking about a very different event.
I loved the music, which was casual and fun, and while I could not watch any of the cooking demos, those appeared to be very popular with the crowds.
Some of the food people really were overwhelmed by the crowds and looked very stressed out but who could blame them? The lines were ungainly and massive from one o'clock on. Perhaps a little more space between each tent would help next time, if that is at all possible. The food that was premade was obviously easier to manage than the food cooked on site. I am sure the folks involved are thinking about ways to make this more efficient next time.
Really loved this and am already talking it up for next year.