As the locavore movement continues to gain steam across the country, central Pennsylvania will have the chance to learn more about and celebrate it Sunday afternoon. Presented by Village Eatinghouse and taking place at the Pleasant Gap Fire Co. carnival grounds, the first Festa Nic Food and Beverage Showcase is committed to all things local.
A locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised or produced within a 50- to 100-mile radius. Melanie Phillips, of Village Eatinghouse, hopes that Festa Nic will introduce the Centre Region to the benefits of consuming locally.
“Central Pennsylvania has an abundance of large and small specialty food and beverage manufacturers making high quality consumer goods that help to fuel our local economy and support our families and communities,” Phillips said. “As small manufacturers ourselves, we believe that the more folks know about this abundance and the huge variety of goods available, the better for all of us.”
With more than 35 food vendors and 78 local business in total, Festa Nic will provide the opportunity for visitors to sample a vast array of delicious delicacies from our neighbors. In addition to tasting the grub, Festa Nic is a terrific way for community members to get to know the individuals who help keep the local economy moving. The organizers also pride themselves on donating half of the festival’s proceeds to the Friends & Farmers Cooperative in State College.
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“There are success stories from all of our hard working participating vendors, and we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight those folks who are making a difference in the food and beverage industry in central Pennsylvania,” Phillips said. “Small business owners are hard workers and specialty foods and beverages can be a tough business without support from our communities. This festival will celebrate that hard work.”
During the past decade or so, there has been an increased push toward eating locally. Health experts agree that avoiding processed foods and doing your best to forgo the manufactured ingredients found on supermarket shelves across the country pay tremendous returns.
“I think many of us are becoming more aware of the impact of our food choices on the environment, leading us to choose foods that come from close-to-home,” said Rebecca Scofield, a registered dietitian nutritionist and 2007 Penn State graduate. “More people want to know where their food comes from so they can learn about how their animal products are raised and how their fruits and veggies are grown. We want to be connected to our food and eating locally can help give us this feeling.”
“Even regionally owned business are beginning to include local and specialized food to their customers,” Phillips added. “The whole industry is really trying to capitalize on finding these awesome local foods.”
While most people seem to be on board with eating healthier and supporting local businesses, old habits die hard and Phillips occasionally faces some resistance. She thinks that Festa Nic will go a long way in breaking down these well-established barriers and encouraging people to embrace the positives and hop aboard the locavore locomotive.
“I think that one of the more obvious challenges is that it might be less convenient for some people to go out and find these types of foods,” Phillips said. “But here in State College, we are loaded with farmers markets all throughout the week. There are tons of places with farmers markets taking place on a regular basis that are all successful. The level of accessibility to this sort of food is very open here in central Pennsylvania. It would be pretty hard for someone not to be able to go to a farmers market around here.”
“The next time you need fresh produce be sure to stop at the local farmers market,” Scofield added. “Go online and check to see what fruits and vegetables are in season in your region, as they are likely to have traveled a shorter distance to get to you. Local foods often come from more sustainable farms, meaning less pollution of air and water while also supporting the local economy and decreasing pesticide use.”
In addition to food, no picnic is complete without games and music. Festa Nic will offer various backyard games like ultimate frisbee and corn hole, live music from local bands and door prizes. Nutritionists and gardeners will also be on hand to provide those in attendance with the assistance needed to cultivate healthier lifestyles.
Although this is the festival’s inaugural event, its impressive pedigree and momentum is poised to affect the region for the foreseeable future.
“In general, there is a wish for people to be a part of a community, and I think that this will make them feel like they really are part of it,” Phillips said. “Festa Nic will allow people to form a greater connection with their community. People will be able to taste such a variety of food and drinks of central Pennsylvania. This is an opportunity for everyone to really be amazed by the variety and the abundance of these small local manufacturers.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Festa Nic Food and Beverage Showcase
- When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday
- Where: Pleasant Gap Fire Co. carnival grounds
- Info: festanic.brownpapertickets.com