Feast is a fun way to fill your day…and your belly!

Every year now (well, for two years in a row), the Feast! planners have worked hard to build off of the previous year’s event and make it even better. There are a lot of things that have been there from the beginning—most notably, the many unique and delicious foods available for sampling and purchasing directly from the farmers and artisans who make them.

Squash Blossom Farm

Also every year we have engaging activities for kids of all ages! This year you’ll see the fun Veggie Grand Prix again, where vegetables turn into race cars. You’ll also see face painting, mini-sprout greenhouses under construction, budding artists crafting designs with dried seeds and paintings with veggie cutouts, and a special KidsFit program hosted by Hy-Vee, full of games that promote movement and learning about foods and nutrition.

 Veggie Grand Prix

For something more calming, there’s storytime featuring food and farming themes, and kids will be invited to illustrate some local food stories. Coloring is a great way to relax your mind and get ready for more learning!

Learning and entertainment are definitely in store when you pop in to the pop up film fest! You’ll see these short films playing on your way into the event, and you can catch them at any time because they’ll be on a loop all day. The 10 short films are all finalists in the Real Food Media film contest, the first-ever international competition to focus completely on short films about sustainable food and farming.

The short films address topics such as farmworker rights, organic farming practices, heirloom plant varieties, community gardens, and the corporate influence on America’s tastes and food traditions. They are entertaining, and also inspire us to reflect, ask questions, and get busy with local gardens and efforts to keep improving our food system. And you can feel proud, because you’ve contributed to the effort just by attending Feast!

Just next door to the kids’ area will be our NEW Mini Farmers’ Market, featuring local farms Hoch Orchard, Open Hands Farm, Easy Yoke Farm, and Tortoise & Hare Farm. They’ll be there with fresh produce and also some engaging demos, offering tips and recipes that you can watch and sample. On top of that we’ll have a fascinating exhibit showing the history of Minnesota’s Farmers’ Markets.

Also in this area, you have a chance to sit down and give your feet a rest while you watch cooking demonstrations by chef and author Beth Dooley from 12 to 2, and Healthy Living presentations from Mayo Clinic dietitian Lisa Dierks throughout the day.

The expo hall at the Mayo Civic Center will be filled to capacity with over 100 local food businesses ready to tempt your palate. You really need to come hungry, for what you’ll find is like a 10-course meal: micro greens and salad dressings, sauces and salsas, cooking mixes, baking mixes, grass fed meats, fresh raw veggies frozen or fermented, and don’t forget the decadent desserts—multiple chocolatiers along with some delicious snack foods that just happen to also be healthy.

 Feast 2015 birdseye

You can find gluten-free, probiotics, grass-fed, and organics. Greek yogurt, jams made with specialty local fruits, and—do we need to mention—cheese. Is your mouth watering? Well we’ve got you covered with a variety of beverages as well: have you tried switchel? Kombucha? What about chai? If you’re so inclined, spring for the wristband and you can also sample local craft beer, wine, and hard cider. For all but the alcohol, you’ll be able to take it to go: purchase your favorites to savor at home or to share with a fellow foodie.

B&Es Trees

Be sure to sign up to win an amazing gift basket of goodies from Feast! vendors. Also, new this year, you can vote for your favorite exhibitor in the People’s Choice Awards! (We know it will be hard to pick just one…)

Also new this year, participating farm-to-table restaurants in Rochester (see the list HERE) will be offering specials that feature products from Feast! vendors. Customers who order those specials will receive 2-for-1 coupons for Saturday’s Feast! festival!

The Feast! Local Foods Marketplace is brought to you by the FEAST Local Food Network, a partnership of many organizations, businesses, and individuals committed to growing a sustainable, local and regional food system.

Our goal is to nurture vibrant local and regional food economies in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, and we thank you for helping by coming to Feast! to see, sample, and stock up.

Farm scene-family

We also hope that you will seek these products out throughout the year, and ask for them at the stores, restaurants, and cafeterias where you eat and shop. You can continue to be a part of building a more sustainable food system, and pass it on!

Come satisfy your hunger and curiosity for local food at the third annual Feast! Local Foods Marketplace festival, Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Admission is $2 for children and $5 for adults with an additional fee for wine, beer and hard cider tasting.

 We hope you join us in this local Feast!

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