#14 – Food Festival!

Living in Lancaster, PA is an odd mix of being in an urban environment that is working to reinvent itself and old world style agriculture that still supports and sustains a majority of the population.  I live in the city, so I’m walking distance to all kinds of shops, restaurants and bars as well as my friends (though, to be fair, it’s a small city, so it’s not that difficult).

However, if you head just a few miles outside of the city you’re into a different world entirely; one where agriculture is still the main source of revenue for families dating back generations.  I’m hesitant to call it “quaint” because the word has picked up a shadow of negativity; the same applies for calling it a “simpler time or place”.

That said, I had no idea what I was going to do when I put down “Hit up a food festival” on The List.  I was honestly hoping to put together a trip to some BBQ competition.  Sure, I could have gone to a beer fest, but we do that in October and the wineries around here are… inconsistent at best.  And I had already missed the World’s Largest Chicken BBQ at a local park.  No, I’m not kidding, go ask the people at Guinness.

Then, as I was wondering where to go and what to do, the stars pretty much lined up and got set to lead me down the plowed-field path.

Chelsea and I signed up for a local CSA with another couple we’re friends with, the Martins (you’ll met them shortly in this post and a few other things that are in the works).  The premise is simple, we buy in for a share of a local farm, and they hook us up with produce between May and October.  It’s a great way to buy locally sourced goods while getting our hands on some great stuff that we would never otherwise buy on our standard shopping trips.

This past week’s share included a bundle of rhubarb.  What the hell am I supposed to do with rhubarb?  Make pie?  Sure, but it’s damn near 90 degrees out and turning my oven on is the last thing I want to do.  Still…rhubarb.  Not a vegetable I have any experience with at all.  To the internet!

What’s this then?  A rhubarb festival?  Here?  In Lancaster?!  Perfect.

We called up Ryan and Brooke and had a plan in hand; we were going to what promised to be the rootinist-tootinist rhubarb throw down in the land.

The little known companion to "The Joy of Sex"

The festival itself was wall to wall people, as you would expect from a party celebrating this apparent rock star of a vegetable.  “Steve,” I hear you asking, “what is there to do at a rhubarb festival?”  So glad you asked.

Can't make this up

Gentlemen, start your vegetables!

Amish kids are at a disadvantage when it comes to blinging out a car.

As befitting a right and proper food festival there were also plenty of samples to enjoy.  Apparently rhubarb is a bit of a team player and can be used in a bunch of different stuff,  like salsa, punch, jam, pie, smoothies, etc, etc, so on and so forth.

Ryan and Chelsea digging on the rhubarb salsa. Ole!

Nobody expects the rhubarb/pineapple mojitos...least of all Ryan.

We actually got to meet Rhu-Barb the holder of all rhubarb knowledge.  Think of all the movies, cartoons and TV shows where there is a lone guy that climbs a mountain to speak with a guru sitting on a peak.  That guru has all the wisdom in the world and will only dispense it if you’re worthy.

Well, Rhu-Barb was kinda like that, but for $3.95 you could buy some jam and she’d tell you want to do with it.  Also, no toga.  Instead, she wore a hat that was covered in rhubarb leaves, which she informed us make excellent animal deterrents and you shouldn’t eat.  Why?  “It’ll give you the shits something fierce.”  Thanks, Rhu-Barb.

Rhu-Barb was big on visual aides.

We couldn’t stick around for the parade/stroll down Rhubarb Lane, which was a bit of a shame, but really there’s only so much vegetable based mirth a guy can handle.  We were content that now armed with the knowledge imparted upon us by Rhu-Barb and her 28 years of festival experience, we could come up with something delicious to do with our pink bounty.

Overall, this was a hilarious success.

#14 – Attend a Food Festival?  DONE!

One Response to “#14 – Food Festival!”

  1. adam May 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    We have rhubarb that grows to nearly 3′ long (stalk, not including leaf) in our yard. My wife just made about a gallon of jam and in a week we’ll have enough for another gallon or possibly enough crisp to choke a moderately sized horse.

    Apparently the leaves are poisonous to small animals and so it’s not a good idea to grow it if you have pets.

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