I attended the Food and Wine Extravaganza on a press pass in exchange for writing about the event. We paid for Brian’s ticket. As always, my opinions are my own.
You may recall that last year I enjoyed a fun day – and took a set of terrible photos – at the Western Massachusetts Beer Festival in Dalton. It was a great day of trying new brews and supporting a good cause. This year, I found out that the Kelly’s Package Store-sponsored event would be a weekend long celebration – a Friday night Farm-to-Table Food and Wine Extravaganza, the Saturday Beer Festival and a Sunday Arts Day. As much as I enjoyed the beer festival, the food and wine event sounded even better. Never mind the fact that all the events support local non-profits.
The Food and Wine Extravaganza is definitely smaller than the beer festival. I didn’t count vendors, I’d estimate there were about 15. The website claimed several that didn’t make it to the event. The crowd was also much smaller, which was nice. We didn’t have a lot of problem with lines at the beer festival last year, but the smaller attendance meant many more opportunities to talk to the participants. It also seemed like the mood of the attendees was friendlier, more social and more relaxed.
And the quality of participants was excellent. Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Grace Hill Farm, Bola Granola, E.L. Mountain Farm, Gramercy Bistro, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace and others were all there. I can think of several Berkshire area food and wine producers that were not in attendance, but there was a wide variety of foods available and everything was really delicious. As in the case of the beer festival, samples were unlimited, though it was a little harder to be inconspicuous when you went for your third piece of bread.
There was wine too, of course, at 3 or 4 different tables. We sampled and enjoyed it, but wine is never as interesting to me as beer. I wasn’t there for the wine, I was there for the food. I appreciated that the event didn’t come off as a wine tasting, though I could see a situation in which that might disappoint some attendees. The wine tables were very popular.
There were other drinks on hand as well. Both Berkshire Mountain Distillers (home of the best craft gin in the country, according to the NY Times) and Lefty’s Brewing Company had tables that we thoroughly enjoyed visiting. The representatives for both brands were super helpful in answering questions and generous with samples.
A few of the food tables stood out to Brian and I as well. We were both really impressed with the sausages from Mountain Top Country Meats in Savoy. I’d never seen them at an event before and everything I tasted was fantastic. We came home with some of their beef jerky and I may have to give them a call when the holidays get closer. I also found myself repeatedly drawn to the Berkshire Bark table, where samples of all of their bars were available for tasting. Berkshire Bark is available at several local stores, but I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten to try it before. It’s pretty awesome and provided a nice sweet contrast for the otherwise savory foods.
I enjoyed myself so much at this event. It definitely helped that Friday was a lovely evening. It was so nice to wander through the tents, sampling food and beverages, sitting occasionally to relax, chatting with producers and attendees, listening to live music and planning our next stop. We spent about an hour and half at the festival, which allowed us ample time to try something from all the tables. Everything was so good and the mood was so relaxed. I would love to see the Farm-to-Table Food and Wine Extravaganza expand to include some more local producers, but even if it remained the same, I’d definitely put it on my calendar for next year.
Thanks again to Kelly’s Package Store for helping make this post possible!