Montpelier Alive vigorously promoted a “Taste of Montpelier Food Festival” for Saturday, Sept. 11, and it seems the organization’s efforts paid off. Tickets for the “Feast of Fools” portion of the event, scheduled for 2 p.m. through 5 p.m., were sold out before 3 p.m. as The Bridge found out when attending the event shortly before 3 p.m. Fortunately, the vendors were able to take cash.
Montpelier Alive Executive Director Dan Groberg said in a Facebook thread the event attracted three times more people than anticipated.
The all-day culinary extravaganza started out at 9 a.m. at 133 State Street with the Capital City Farmers Market — already a popular go-to for Montpelier residents every weekend. State Street from Main to Elm was closed to cars, and backed up traffic made it difficult to get through the city throughout the day.
Capital City Farmers Market vendors include the Green Reaper, Mansfield Mushroom Co., Mt. Mansfield Creamery, Owl Hill Farm, Red Hen Baking Co., St. Johnsbury Distillery, Trenchers Farmhouse, Vermont Fermentation Adventures, and many more.
After the farmers market, the “Feast of Fools” event went on from 2 to 5 p.m. This included performances as well as local restaurants selling their food in front of their establishments on the sidewalk or from food trucks in the street. People closely packed together (not everyone wearing masks) jostled one another to find the end of the line for one food establishment while also allowing customers to browse retail store displays sharing the same sidewalk. For example, while in a long line for the Oaks and Evelyn restaurant, a person had to make way for those viewing a clothing rack along the sidewalk by the building while individuals and families tried to make their way in a third stream along the same artery by the curb.
Since this was the first such event, vendors did not know ahead of time how many would attend. “I didn’t know what to expect,” said Amanda Champagne, chef at Oakes and Evelyn on State Street next to Julio’s. “It’s great,” she said of the large turnout. She and Justin Dain, chef and owner of the establishment, steamed buns on the spot in which to serve their “Carolina-style pulled pork steamed buns” served with gnocchi, mushroom, tomato, corn, and Parmesan on the side.
After the “Feast of Fools,” a community picnic was scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. on the State House lawn. People were invited to either purchase picnic dinners from participating vendors or to bring their own food and enjoy music from Inner Fire District and What Cheer? Brigade.
And finally, Barr Hill Distillery was scheduled to host an “after party” at their gin joint out on Barre Street from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Music by Inner Fire District was also scheduled to be presented there.
It was like food was a celebrity and those gathering in Montpelier were starstruck fans, and there was much to be fanatical about.