This fall, Slow Food will be landing on the North Bank of the Columbia River on Saturday, Oct. 5 to host the first annual Cascadia Food Festival. Vancouver has been chosen to host the regional Slow Food event of the international organization that is active in 160 countries, and in the U.S. has more than 150 local chapters and 6,000 members. The event will include a food and cider festival, a summit for regional food leaders and an evening luau, all centered around the unique flavors of the Cascadia region.
Cascadia Food Festival echoes other Slow Food events across the globe. In July, Slow Food USA brought 30,000 people together for Slow Food Nations, its annual food festival in Denver, Colo. Slow Food International hosts Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, a biannual Slow Food gathering of food leaders from around the world and a tasting salon that attracts more than a million people to the streets of Turin, Italy.
Food festivals are a great economic development strategy. Over the five-day Charleston Food and Wine Festival, the event draws 29,072 attendees, estimate $15,300,00 economic impact and generates $2,048,000 in taxes.
Each day, $6 million is spent on food in Clark County, and only 1% of that is captured by local farmers. The Cascadia Food Festival will help to build market demand for local farmers. As the city of Vancouver’s new Waterfront Park comes into season, and the Waterfront development secures wine tasting rooms like Maryhill Winery, Naked Winery, Pepper Bridge and Amavi Cellar, we have a prime location for a food festival with international reach. Cascadia Food Festival has been grateful to have early support from the Port of Vancouver USA, and I look forward to seeing their Public Market space grow at Terminal 1.
“The Port of Vancouver is excited to support an active Slow Food chapter in Southwest Washington. This international organization excels in food festivals and we look forward to Slow Food Cascadia, a festival here in Vancouver that will showcase our local food, food systems and people. As the port continues to work toward developing a public marketplace at Terminal 1, we see a great collaboration between the work of Slow Food Southwest Washington and port goals of a marketplace offering fresh, local and healthy foods and products,” said Julie Rawls, community relations manager at the port.
Slow Food Cascadia expects to welcome 2,000 Food and Cider Festival attendees, 250 food summit attendees and 350 Cascadian Luau ticket holders. Tickets can be purchased a-la-carte or as an all-inclusive package. Discounts for farmers, students and groups are available. Tickets are on sale at www.cascadiafoodfestival.org.
The Cascadia Food Festival is the perfect place for the public and food producers to come together to sample the foods that make this place taste like home. And it’s a great way to explore the deep food connections that tie us together. Celebrating the Cascadia food system is delicious work.
The Food and Cider Festival will take place at Old Apple Tree Park and includes a Taste Marketplace with food samples, a Cider Pressing Station where attendees can bring their own apples to press and a Hard Cider Garden (paid entry) that will highlight Cascadia’s top cider makers. There will also be craft and food vendors and live music. The festival is free and will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Slow Food Summit will bring food experts, activists, producers, chefs and community leaders together to learn about regional food connections. The event will include a salmon and wine tasting. The summit will run from noon to 5 p.m. and is limited to pre-paid registrants.
To honor the cultural history of the Hawaiian community in Vancouver, the day ends with a Cascadian Luau that merges the bounty of Cascadia with Hawaiian fare. The menu features lomi-lomi – a traditional side dish that incorporates salmon – roasted pig and small plates created by Tommy O’s, a Vancouver restaurant specializing in the flavors of the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and featuring Chef Michael Miyahara, who you can find on Instagram @food_saint. The luau will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. and is open to ticket holders. The event will feature a raffle for an eco-gastronomic Hawaiian travel package.
Warren Neth is the event director for the Slow Food Cascadia Food Festival and is the executive director at Slow Food Southwest Washington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.