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Jul 13, 2011 11:46 AM

2011 Lowell Folk Festival 7/29-31

I couldn't get much of the site ( to open, probably because of dial-up. No current performer list, and the food vendor list is from last year. However, the little part of the craft and foodways portion that I could access says there will be presentations highlighting the importance of apprenticeships, and about the role of noodles in various ethnic cuisines, including noodle-making demos. I couldn't find the time or location for that, unfortunately. Hoping it's not all my computer's fault and that I will find more details in 2 weeks..

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  1. The current performer list has been up for a while now as well as a daily schedule..

    1. Voila
      JFK Plaza
      Lowell Polish Cultural Committee Polish
      LAO United Church of Christ Asian
      Jamaica Celebration of Life Indian/Jamaican
      Armenian Relief Society of Lowell Armenian
      Portuguese American Center Portuguese
      Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity Greek
      WAT Buddha of Massachusetts Asian

      Boarding House Park (click to expand)
      Iskwelahang Pilipino Pilipino
      Merrimack N.A.A.C.P. Soul Food
      Jamaica Celebration of Life Jamaican
      Lowell Latin Catholic Community of St. Pat’s Spanish
      WAT LAO Mixayaram Temple Asian
      Hellenic American Academy PTA Greek
      St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church Middle East

      Dutton Street Dance Stage (click to expand)
      Buddhachak Thai
      St. John’s Baptist Church Soul Food
      House of Prayer Brazilian
      Overseas Burmese Christian Fellowship Burmese
      Turkish Cultural Club UML/Turkish Cultural Ctr. of Boston Turkish
      Congregation Beth Israel/Christian Community Fellowship Middle East and Israeli

      Middle East Restaurant
      472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

      15 Replies
      1. re: trufflehound

        As greygarious said, that list is titled "Last Year's Ethnic Food Sales Locations"

        1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

          May be last year's list but at least for JFK Plaza, it looks like the same booths that have been there for years.

          1. re: three of us

            we live nearby and go every year. the booths dont really change much.. 99% the same every year..

        2. re: trufflehound

          If you're interested in seeing "Last Year's Ethnic Food Sales Locations" I took pics that I'd like to share with everyone here, if the moderators don't ban it. Wonderful food, this festival is not to be missed, excited to go again this year, even if it's exactly the same vendors.

          1. re: trufflehound

            I think the Armenian Relief Society and the Brazilian House of Prayer are new, aren't they? I missed last year, so I may be out of date.... And Turkish! And Isreali! Tho, of course, nothing matches the Portuguese

            1. re: galleygirl

              I hope they have the grilled sardines this summer!

              1. re: three of us

                If not, get the stewed octopus. You'll thank me....

              2. re: galleygirl

                The Armenian Relief guys have been there forever, except I think one year. Some of the best vendors are "unofficial," at St. Anne's. Don't remember Turkish or Burmese last year but I may have missed them.

                1. re: Aromatherapy

                  Thanks for the reminder about St.Anne/s...I usually stumble on them when everything is almost sold out, and think, "Wow, they had good stuff!"

              3. re: trufflehound

                The Burmese, Brazilian, and Israeli places are all new. The Turkish one didn't appear, or if it did, I missed it. The Burmese one was serving mohinga (fish soup) that I didn't try and "chicken potato curry" over chunks of paratha--I use quotes because while it was a delicious savory stew, I couldn't taste anything spicy or currylike. No matter, I recommend it. The Israeli booth listed a Lebanese homestyle mixed vegetables with rice and braised beef that I would have gone for had I had any room left. St. Anne's took over the table that was South Indian (Sri Lankan?) last year for their own fundraising--some homey I think Latin American of some sort meat-and-starch food that frankly just did not entice (did anybody try it? maybe it was better than it looked), and a bake sale, but of course I was there for the Nigerian goat. I told one of the Nigerian women how much I missed the pepper soup they had the first year, and she just laughed and said it was "too much hard work." Rats. Anyhow, we're getting more good alternatives to "meat on sticks."

                The Cambodian noodle and vegetable salad with chicken demo was nothing startlingly new but was charming and a nice place to sit in the shade for a while, and the sample provided was very good. She used a family recipe for a caramel-vinegar-garlic dressing, no fish sauce, very light and refreshing.

                1. re: Aromatherapy

                  You covered the updates very well! I was sad to not see the Sri Lankan booth. That Nigerian Goat may be the best thing of the entire festival, but the Burmese Mohinga was on the same level, and perhaps more with more technique even. I got some great shots of both, and the Portugese sausage on Portugese bun, the Armenian Losh burger, and the Philipino meat on stick, about 10 photos this year. Great fun. Enjoy the pics and hope you all get a chance to go!

                  Lowell Food Festival 2011 food shots

                  1. re: tatsu

                    that goat was sooooooo very good. and i preferred the lao beef on a stick to the filipino. the former tasted like it had been marinated in coconut milk, very tender too.

                    the israeli beef shwarma was disappointing-watery yogurt sauce, 1 tiny dice piece of pickle.

                    1. re: tatsu

                      What's that soup in the last photo?

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          Yes, the Mohinga, something new for me. Great dish, I added on the Burmese pepper flakes to my taste. What you don't see is the rice vermicelli lurking underneath. Very light tasting, not fishy at all.

                2. I called them today. The performer list finally appeared on my computer, but there is still no scheduling info re the noodle/pasta demonstrations - on my computer, anyway. They told me it is scheduled at noon on Saturday only, at Lucy Larcom Park. They also list blade-smithing demos there, amond other crafts. That's all the info they had but I have a feeling the LLP events may be continuous through the afternoon. Does anyone else's computer provide more detail?

                  Looks like it will be hot and if it's humid, I won't go. It would be nice if Chowhounds had a way of identifying one another. I am tall, fat, will have a cane, wearing my brown hair in a coronet (that's the Germanic style with braids pinned up over the top of the head). I will wear lavender shorts and a purple print top, and weather permitting, will bring my white greyhound who has brindle spots that look like saucer-sized Toll House cookies.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greygarious

                    gg -

                    I'm happy to send you the website info - Just click on my screenname for how to contact me.

                    Stalls are now listed; list looks the same as past years. No mention online of St Anne's, but don't miss it! They do sell out early - Last year it was the Nigerians who've been there before , and a booth from Sri Lanka.

                  2. The original comment has been removed
                    1. that's too bad, I found exactly what I needed on line - they had a new on-line schedule that was very helpful. I attended the Cambodian Noodle Salad demo - awesome! Got the recipe, and their contact info if I needed more information as well as their recommendation for great Cambodian in town. I loved it and got to try her grandmother's version of the that noodle salad.

                      oooops, realized the date of this post, hope you enjoyed and find what you wanted. I had limited time but did get in asian pad thai, eggs rolls, and a brazillian taste too. Saw the fantastic Quebe Sisters and another one - piano player Eden ?. I helped a friend at her booth, Artist in the Courtyard (that was a blast too). I like to go all three days but Hubby's foot surgery made it impossible for him to go and me (not as long as I like)

                      Did everyone see the booth promoting the 1st Annual Jazz Festival on the River?? I can't wait - 2 stages, 6 Prof. Jazz Bands. One in particular that I've been wanting to see is The Adagio Big Band - a contemporary big band that boasts a large and impressive ensemble of instrumentalists, singers, dancers (23 piece band) - Aug. 13th, 4-10pm on the river, Sampas Pavilion in Lowell.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: lexpatti

                        So what were the recommendations for great Cambodian food?

                        1. re: three of us

                          we had a great Cambodian meal at Simply Khmer before heading into the festival friday night. Saturday we ate at the festival.

                          I listened in on the noodle salad demo for a little bit but didnt sit thru the whole thing.

                          Eden the piano player was great. Caught the end of her set at St Annes and her full set at JFK on Saturday..

                          1. re: hargau

                            Led Ka'apana - slack key guitar (his is g major) - was the standout. Also liked Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas. Not really zydeco, more rhythm & blues, even Chicago blues with the accordion doing the horn parts. And the Quebe Sisters Band. That was like being in a time warp; if the sound was more authentic, The Mills Brothers would have been on stage with Bob Wills. I liked Eden Brent but her playing was a bit too ornate for my taste.

                            It's weird seeing not only the same food vendors but the same people year after year, watching them get older. It's like when we'd take the kids to the Big Apple Circus and the girl acrobat grew up year by year. BTW, my favorite thing at the folk festival is still the lemon / limeade near the trolley crossing on the way to / from JFK. Like Sprite should taste.

                            I also never understand the pricing. Why is falafel $7 when most other things are much less and falafel is dirt cheap to make?

                            1. re: lergnom

                              I had one of those lemonades and my friend had the limeade a bargain at $2 but the sugar was not dissolved enough in them and they were very gritty unless you kept stirring them. I think the pricing all depends on who is selling the stuff. The commercial vendors selling the fair food on the street with the garage are always the most expensive. The non-profits with the great ethnic foods are usually the best deals. Even the pricing amongst them varies greatly. For instance the pilipino booth with the long line had spring rolls for $3/each while the Laotian booth with practically no line a few booths up was selling similar rolls for only $1!

                              Funny how tastes vary too, while we found the slack key guitar playing to be excellent, it really wasn't our taste and after 2-3 songs we had to move on. To me the standout for players were Eddie & Alonzo Pennington w/ there thumb picked guitars..

                              1. re: hargau

                                the lao rolls were excellent and 2 for $1. the filipino booth had run out, gathered a long line and then served the rolls, in a rush, underdone. i also preferred their beef on a stick over the filipino. and yeah, no line.

                          2. re: three of us

                            I had a bit of a hard time understnding all that he said AND he was more informative bout the diff cambodian restaurants but did mention that Thepidha (sp) is slightly more more americanized then traditional cambodian, he mentioned one on middlesex st that was very traditional but be upfront about the heat (less or more) ( I think it began w/ S - I'll go a searching), his family ownes a small market by boys club and they have take out.... I will start there and ask my question again. ( I think he said branch st). The noodle salad was excellent.

                            1. re: lexpatti

                              IIRC he mentioned Simply Khmer first, and there was another I couldn't catch. He said the market is across from (next to??) Red Rose.

                              Red Rose Cafe
                              800 Broad St, Weymouth, MA 02189

                              1. re: Aromatherapy

                                there is a market in the palin plaza next to red rose.

                                1. re: Aromatherapy

                                  simply khmer is on lincoln street. the only cambodian restaurant on middlesex street that begins with an s is senmonorom

                                  1. re: galangatron

                                    thanks for the correction. am terrible with street names if i walk someplace instead of drive.

                                  2. re: Aromatherapy

                                    pailin market is next to red rose and khmer angkor market is across the street. both of them are near the intersection of middlesex street and branch street

                                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                                      thanks, I missed that frst not sure I've tried simply khamire...guess I need to

                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                        When you do, you must try the Hot Wings..

                                        1. re: hargau

                                          omg, sooo right, thanks. I love ch - we had a fantastic dinner: hot wings, loc lac, mango fried rice and angkor shrimp. Soooooo awesome!