Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Food and Drink Festivals

If you’ve attended any food events in the past, you’ve learned a few things. You usually need to carry everything, walk a good distance to the festival from your transportation, and be prepared for whatever the weather brings.  Here’s a compilation of tips I’ve learned over the years of going to food, wine, cocktail, and beer events along with links to past posts about it. 

A sling for your glass means your hands are free to stuff your face.

General Tips
1. Wear comfortable shoes.  You'll be walking from where you parked to the festival, and all over the festival.  
2. Sunblock.  Sunblock.  Sunblock.  And sunblock.  UV rays don’t discriminate when you’re eating foie gras.  
3. If you must wear a dress or a skirt, make sure it has some structure and substance so it doesn't get blown around.  The wind was causing some free peep shows.  
4. Neti-pot (with distilled or boiled water) when you get home.  Festivals are usually outdoor, and they can get quite dusty.  Your sinus will thank you.
5. Phone charger.  Also bring a portable charger if you can.  You don’t want to be glued to an outlet. Keep it in a plastic bag big enough for your phone and camera in case it rains. 
6. Bring your own fork and spoon, because you might need your own when the disposables run out. Bring your own glass sling too.  Instructions here:
7. ID. Even if you look like you’re 85 years old, TABC could be watching.  No one wants trouble with TABC so bring your license and don’t pitch a fit if you’re required to show it.
8. A designated driver. You can destroy your own liver, but please don’t destroy another person’s life.
9. Cash. While many vendors may take credit cards onsite, cell service can be spotty at large events.  Cash is king.  
10. Your manners. Don’t piss off people.  Don’t be rude.  Everyone here wants to have fun, including the volunteers.  
11. Drink water.  And more water.  And then more water.
12. Benadryl and band-aids.  You never know when you or someone at the festival will have an allergic reaction to food or insect bites.  I always carry benadryl, just in case.  And you never know when you're going to need a band-aid for a blister, burn, or cut. 
12. If Franklin's is at the festival, run to the line first.  RUN! RUN! RUN!

Nothing more satisfying than a man and his meat.  Get your head out of the gutter. 

1. Bring an umbrella to New Orleans if you don’t want to get wet.  It rains almost everyday.
2. Bring some pretzels or a turkey leg on your neck for Great American Beer Festival.  Unless you are going to a food event, you will need food reserves. There are food vendors inside with limited selection.  I would bring my own vittles. 

This man is simply awesome.  Turkey leg necklaces are a must for the ultimate beer loving carnivore. 

1. Unless you have a VIP pass, it might be wise to wait until the last hour of the grand tasting.  During the VIP period, it was pretty tame.  However, during general admission, it could get a little squishy.  If you wait until after most of the crowd had eaten their fill, the tents started to clear out.
2. Arrive very early to the cooking demos.  The lines can start as far as an hour in advance.
3. Bring a bag big enough to carry all the books and swag that you'll collect.  They do give you a resuable tote bag, but it does get difficult to carry.  I bring my own sling or shoulder strap style bag. 

The cooking demo line for Qui Ingredients at the 2013 Austin Food and Wine Festival

1. Helmet.  This might seem odd.  There are many bikers (the motorcycle kind) out in West Texas.  You’ll never know when you need one for a ride on a Harley.
2. Boots.  This is mandatory dress code for West Texas.  Boots.  
3. Lotion and chapstick.  Did I mention that this is the desert? You'll dehydrate quickly. 

Boots are a must.

Brewery Events
1. Chair.  If you can’t stand for long periods of time, bring a chair.  The brewery most likely will not have any.
2. Snacks. And sometimes there is no food provided at brewery open houses, though it is becoming less common.  You might find a food truck or two, but selection is usually limited.  Pack a power bar, banana, apple, or some crackers.
Wish you were Big Bend Brewing Company in Alpine, TX. 

Dog Friendly Festivals
1. Dog on leash. Do NOT bring your dog off-leash.  I’ve been to so many festivals where dogs are running the street because the owners are too busy doing something else.  The leash is for safety.  Use it.  No one wants to leave a festival early because their dog got hurt. 
2. Water + drinking bowl.  I bring a water jug with a shoulder strap for my dogs because they drink directly out of the jug.  Dogs need water throughout the day as well.
3. Poop bags.  Nature calls.  Clean it up.  No one wants to step in dog poop.  Or human poop either.  Keep a diaper on the babies.  
4. Snacks.  If you’re out and about for a long period of time, bring snacks for the puppies.  If you can’t go eight hours without food, why should your dog go without food.  I also bring treats for my dogs because I use every outing as a training session.  
5. Your dog’s manners. No one likes cranky people, and no one likes rude dogs.  Please train your dog how to behave appropriately in public before bringing it out to play.

This durable $10 dress gave me the freedom to shuck 450 oysters at Viva Big Bend and run around.  And it was machine washable.  Get over here and have an oyster!

Working festivals:
If you’ve worked a food festival, there requires just a little more.  
1. Prepare your stomach in advance.  You may not get to eat as you’ll probably get caught up in work and forget to eat.  You might have to eat after midnight after clean up. 
2. Wear something that is durable and machine washable.  You might be hauling 50 lb cases of raw seafood or have someone drop a bowl of salsa on you.  If it wasn’t totally out of theme with the event, I might even consider wearing workout gear.  You might be getting a serious one.  

No comments:

Post a Comment