Food Festival Season in Phoenix: Spread Out the Love
The crowd at the Check, Please! Arizona Festival this year.
The number of food (and drink) festivals in this city has exploded in recent years. Phoenix is a bona fide food town. It's exciting. It's also daunting.
If you're a food lover, you've probably spent many weekends over the past few months stuffing your face with BBQ samples and dessert samples and wine samples, and it's probably been a blast. It was for me.
But as we come to the end of the festival season, I have one question to ask: Next year, can we spread out the love?
Because I love you, festival season. But frankly, I'm exhausted.
It's great that we have not one, but two, great barbecue events in this town. But do they really have to be just two weeks apart? I love slow-roasted brisket and creamy mac 'n' cheese, but not enough to drag myself out of the house on a Saturday twice in one month. I'd venture to guess I'm not the only one who feels that way.
And let's revisit the whole Arizona Cocktail and Arizona Beer Week conundrum. For three straight years now, the two biggest booze events in town have occurred on the same dates. Do event organizers not believe we can love both craft brews and craft cocktails? Are we trying to segregate the city based on your drink of choice?
Last month alone, we had the Great Arizona Beer Fest (which overlapped with the Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic, by the way) followed by the Arizona Aloha Festival and then St. Patrick's Day. The next week brought The Great American Barbecue and Beer Festival, then the Check, Please! Arizona Festival, and then the weeklong Scottsdale Culinary Festival held during first week of April.
And that dizzying list only includes some of the biggest events.
If organizers are picking dates based on the weather, then maybe we should spread some of this festival love out to the fall. I promise I'll still come out and eat myself sick in September, October, and even November. Particularly if it means a springtime schedule with a little more breathing room.
If it's my job to go out and experience these awesome events and I can barely get it done, then what are the chances that average food lovers -- who have jobs and kids and lives outside of food and drink -- are really getting to experience everything the city has to offer?
The answer is that they probably aren't. And that's both a shame and a disservice to anyone with an interest in our city's food scene.
We can do it, Phoenix, I know we can. We can have our beer and our cocktails and our barbecue in both the spring and the fall. If Arizona Restaurant Week can do it twice a year, then there's got to be enough interest for food events that happen throughout the year.
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