The FEAST! Local Foods Network will hold its first-ever standalone Local Foods Tradeshow for wholesale buyers and manufacturers on Thursday, March 17, at The Grand O2 Event Center, Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Buyers and foodmakers from Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota are encouraged to attend.
The Tradeshow focuses on strategies for growing a regional food business such as building relationships with buyers, entrepreneur peer networking, financing and marketing. The FEAST! Network believes it’s vital to support these businesses because they enhance their communities positively—creating jobs, markets for regional farms, unique food products, and business models that give back to the community. “When we support our local shops, local food growers and local food makers, we are helping our neighbors succeed,” says Katie Ruff, owner of By the Spoonful, a small grocery in McGregor, Iowa that champions local foods.
The day’s schedule includes a wholesale expo, networking lunch, and Makers’ Forum comprised of panel discussions and an optional driving tour of Cannon Falls area businesses.
The lunch will include locally-produced foods and features a keynote from Paul Willis, co-founder of Niman Ranch, a network of small, independent, U.S. family farmers raising livestock humanely and sustainably. Paul will share insights about how he scaled up his business responsibly and maintained strong dedication to his founding principles. Today, Niman Ranch products are available at thousands of grocers nationwide and on the menu of some of the country’s most celebrated restaurants and values-driven fast casual chains. As Paul says, they are the “to” in Farm to Fork. “I’m glad to have been able to offer an economically viable way for farms to adopt humane standards that are good for the animals, good for the farm, and good for the consumer.”
During lunch, organizers will present the FEAST! awards for Innovative Local Sourcing and Inspiring Social Benefit, along with a new Local Food Champion Award recognizing retailers who work to promote local foods.
The FEAST! Tradeshow is open to wholesale buyers and regional food businesses. Registration is limited to vendors, buyers, and aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to attend with the "Makers' Forum Attendee" registration. Registration and details are online at local-feast.org/tradeshow2022.
There is no public component to the event, but consumers are encouraged to support participating businesses featured in the FEAST! Foodmaker Directory at local-feast.org/directory, which includes videos and e-commerce links.
The FEAST! Local Foods Network is co-managed by non-profit organizations, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and Renewing the Countryside, and sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. For more info, including COVID-related updates, visit www.local-feast.org and social media: @localfeastnetwork on Facebook, @Local_Feast on Twitter, @localfeast on Instagram, and #localFEAST.