Wow. The PA Flavor festival was amazing!
I left at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning and drove about four hours to Harrisburg, PA - to the Farm Show Complex - and set up for the big festival. But not with out a few mishaps. The night before I noticed on the website that the show was open to "Over 21" only. There went my plans of bringing the kids as helpers! Luckily my booth was located close to where I unloaded. My car got about 2/3 of the way to Harrisburg and the back wheel started making a grinding noise. I'd been told that it would need new rotors soon. Now it definitely does. And when I got to the complex I couldn't find the PA Flavor festival! If you ever get to the Farm Show Complex you'll know why. The place is enormous. I walked in one door and was greeted by about a thousand alpacas in pens. Judging from the smell, I didn't think the festival was near that. Finally I found PA Flavor on the far side of all the buildings.
Here are a few photos of my booth. I hadn't set out my samples on the colored maple leaves yet. I used paper souffle cups (like the little cups you get ketchup in at McDonald's) with a bit of maple syrup and a pretzel stick in each.
The map gives an idea of the festival's large number of breweries, restaurants, and vendors.
Being the first festival of this type that I've attended, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was that the VIP folks came in an hour before everyone else and were served fancy appetizers by tray-carrying servers. The VIPs went to the different booths and tasted the vast variety of beers and foods at each one without the press of many, many people. I had thought the entry to be pretty expensive ($75 for the VIPs and $50 for the general public) but when I found what people received for that price I found it to be very reasonable.
About 40 artisan breweries set up at the festival. Each brewery brought about 3 to 4 different specialty beers. As you came into the show you were given a small glass and you went to each brewery and tried all the beers you liked. That gave you the opportunity to try at least 120 different beers! This didn't include all the platters of wonderful chef-designed foods sitting out and each vendor with samples of their wares. I couldn't leave my booth (to be sure I will be bringing helpers next year so that we can tour the event!), but the breweries on either side of me had each brought three different beers so I was able to sample six really unique and tasty beers. A food table with cheeses, figs, sandwich fixings, homemade cookies, olives and more, set up right in front of me. Lunch!
|Setting up for the show.|
The crowd was really fun (maybe due to the large amounts of beer?)! The festival handed out real glasses to people and with a concrete floor you would occasionally hear the smash of a dropped glass. When this happened the whole place erupted with people saying, "Ooooooooh!" I was told by people from Canada and Vermont that they had to taste test my maple syrup and that it was excellent. Kudos to Fitzgerald's Family Farm!
One more thing before I go. We're working on a little project here that I had hoped to have ready for the festival... but the flavor wasn't quite where I want it to be yet.