Festival Offers Food, Brewing, Petting Zoos

Photo of fresh produce that appears on Taste of the Catskills website. Photo courtesy of Taste of the Catskills and Kip Saw Photography. Pick a pumpkin, pet a goat and celebrate food “from farm to fork” at the Taste of the Catskills Fall Fest, Saturday Oct. 8 and Sunday Oct. 9 at Maple Shade Farm in Delhi.

The festival showcases regional and seasonal food, as well as wine and beer. The cost of admission is $5 for adults and $1-per-foot for children.

Jonah Shaw, owner of Quarter Moon Café in Delhi, organized the first Taste of the Catskills in 2010, with the help of Jay and Abby Wilson of Maple Shade Farm. With over 4,000 attendees, the festival’s initial success gave rise to a second Taste over Fourth of July Weekend.

Anticipating a good turnout for this weekend’s harvest celebration, Shaw said the event’s emphasis has always been on the importance of supporting family farms and local businesses.

“Everyone that is a vendor has to be local, be selling handmade and their own homemade products,” he said. “All food that is sold in concessions has to be based on locally raised food. There are no vendors allowed that don’t feature Catskills-area or New York state farm products–especially with the flooding that’s happened, we had to extend the area of the product base this time.”

In light of the flood damage from Irene, the tropical storm that hit the area and much of the East Coast Sept. 3, the Delhi Fire Department will be collecting donations for the Catskill Flood Relief effort.

According to its website, Catskills Flood Relief is an area-wide effort to provide immediate support and assistance to communities,
such as Prattsville, Margaretville, Fleischmanns, Phoencia, Windham and Hunter. All these towns were affected by Irene and devastated by the flash floods that followed the intense rains from the storm.

“There was a lot of damage to local farms,” Shaw said. “Entire farms that were completely washed away, all their top soil was washed away, leaving nothing but bedrock. Then the farm is gone, there’s no way they can replant.”

With the contributions of sponsors Cooperstown Event Rentals, County Tire and Eklund Family Farm Machinery, Shaw set aside 400 free tickets for flood victims wishing to attend.

“It’s our way of trying to provide a day to people who had a trying month, to go out have a bit of fun,” he said.

Taste of the Catskills will feature at least 55 vendors, including local favorites like Cooperstown’s Ommegang Brewery or The Painted Goat cheese.  Attendees are encouraged to bring a reusable shopping bag for stocking up on raw food like fruits, vegetables and dairy, as well as “value-added” prepared products such as sauces, salsas and preserves at the farmers market. There will also be meats, cheeses and charcuterie available for purchase.

A buffet-style dinner, which will be prepared by Quarter Moon Café chefs Justine Munson-Harkenreader and Jamie Rotter, will feature the seasonal, local ingredients, paired with a local beer or wine will be held each evening. The cost is $15 per plate for adults, $10 a plate for children under 12. The entrée will feature Ommegang braised Berkshire pork or Pibil-style chicken and vegetables from Maple Shade Farm. After the dinner there will be a bonfire and barn dance.

Other festivities will include a bocce ball tournament Saturday, an equestrian display by the Black Willow Morgans western dressage drill team and live music all weekend. Children’s activities will include face painting, puppetry, a petting zoo and a corn maze. There will also be workshops each day teaching cooking, farming, brewing and vinting.

“My favorite part of the festival is watching all of the kids have a good time on the farm and learn where food really comes from,” said Shaw.

Taste of the Catskills will be held at Maple Shade Farm, 2066 County Highway 18 in Delhi, New York. The festival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, rain or shine. For information or to pre-purchase tickets or request free admission, visit www.tasteofthecatskills.com.