Speakers & Sessions



Dani Dircks, founder and owner at Sailor Mercy, receiving the FEAST! Most Engaging Booth Award at the FEAST! 2019 Tradeshow.




The tradeshow gathering will include a welcome from FEAST! Local Foods Network co-founding organization, Renewing the Countryside.  Awards will be presented by representatives from FEAST! Premier Partner Sponsors:

  • Co-founder Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation,
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and
  • Renewing the Countryside



Below are the speakers for the

2022 FEAST! Local Foods Tradeshow

Keynote and Makers' Forum sessions




Paul Willis, Niman Ranch


Paul Willis is a 5th generation family farmer and founder of the Niman Ranch Pork Company. He has owned and operated the Willis Free Range Pig Farm in Iowa since 1975. Today he works hard to increase opportunities for traditional, sustainable and humane family farmers while representing the Niman Ranch brand.

Paul’s involvement in sustainable agriculture began after he graduated from the University of Iowa and joined the Peace Corps where he served in Nigeria working with the ministry of agriculture organizing a young farmers club. He returned to the states to start his own farm. Paul initially sold his hogs in the conventional market. When he met Bill Niman in 1995, the two discovered a shared dedication to sustainable farming, strict animal husbandry standards and raising the highest quality product possible. Their partnership led to the establishment of the Niman Ranch Pork Company in 1998, which has since grown into a network of over 600 independent family hog farmers.


2-2:45 pm
Creative Financing


Luke Cooreman, First Farmers & Merchants Bank

Luke is from the Cannon Falls/Randolph community, and has had a career in banking for over 16 years. He has been focused on Commercial loans for local businesses large and small for the past 10 years and was promoted to Branch President in 2017. He has served as Chamber President and also President of the EDA in Cannon Falls. Luke lives in Cannon Falls with his wife and four children. He enjoys golfing, biking and spending time with his family in his free time.


Deeann Lufkin, CannonBelles Cheese

Deeann is one of three dynamic women who banded together to make great cheese, and have been expanding their operation and winning awards since they first attended FEAST in 2016. From the outset, they knew they wanted to build their own cheesemaking facility, and that is becoming a reality this year. Join this session to learn about some of the strategies they incorporated into realizing their dream.


3-3:45 pm
E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Best Practices



Brian Erickson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture New Markets Program

Brian manages the New Markets Program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which supports more than 100+ small Minnesota food companies. Programming include cost-sharing that helps companies execute more in-store demos and B2B trade events, and coordination of Minnesota Pavilions at food and beverage tradeshows around the country. A St. Cloud State grad. in Biology and Environmental Science, Brian lives in Plymouth with his patient wife, Jennifer, and a needy yellow lab, Indie.

Jennifer Alexander, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Food Business Development Administrator

Jennifer is best known for founding Jen’s Jars, LLC – a local plant-based fresh soup company. She now brings her passion for entrepreneurship and local food as well as her experience in CPG brand development, strategic sales and marketing to the MN Department of Agriculture as Food Business Development Administrator. In addition to managing the New Markets Cost-Share Program, she supports the local food ecosystem as part of MDA’s Marketing & Development Division, overseeing the Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year Award. She also serves on the board of local culinary networking group Women Who Really Cook and is eager to use her experience and connections to support the growth and success of Minnesota food & beverage businesses.


4-4:45 pm
Finding your megaphone: Tools to get your story out



Brady Barnstable, Seven Sundays

Co-founder of Seven Sundays muesli and cereal company.



Craig Kaiser, Cry Baby Craig's

Breaker of all ceilings, forever enrolled as a student in life, founder and owner of CRY BABY CRAIGS hot sauce company. 

Sharon Richards-Noel, West Indies Soul Food

Sharon started West Indies Soul Food as a catering company and food truck to put together the mouthwatering flavors from her homeland, Trinidad and Tobago. She has been a fixture at the Minnesota State Fair for 15 years, and is currently expanding into a retail location. 





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