Local food producers and food lovers will get the chance to come together to celebrate harvest season and local food during the second annual Wood River Valley Harvest Fest, which will be held from 3-10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, in Hailey.
The fun begins with a Local Food Fair from 3-5 p.m. at the Wood River Sustainability Center, 308 S. River St., in which local food producers will display and sell their wares, and attendees can sample locally made appetizers and beer. The food fair is free and open to the public.
The evening continues with a Restaurant Walk from 5-7 p.m., in which 16 restaurants in downtown Hailey will serve up fresh bites of locally sourced food.
Ali Long, executive director of the Local Food Alliance, said all the food prepared for the event is regionally sourced via Idaho’s Bounty, and the dishes prepared by all 16 participating restaurants will use what Idaho’s Bounty has available.
“It’s a little different than what they’re used to, since they’re making the dishes based on what’s available, rather than deciding what they’re going to make and then going out and looking for the ingredients,” she said.
Participating restaurants and organizations this year are the Wood River Sustainability Center, diVine, daVinci’s, Power House, Dang’s Thai Cuisine, Sawtooth Brewery, Restaurant 103, Seasons Steakhouse, Jersey Girl, Muleshoe Tavern, Lago Azul, CK’s, Zou 75, KB’s, Smokey Bone BBQ and the Hailey Fire Department.
The fun caps off with a street party from 7-10 p.m. at the Wood River Sustainability Center and on River Street, which will be closed to traffic for the event. The evening includes music by the Kim Stocking Band and a cash bar. The street party is free and open to the public.
“We’re just going to drink and dance and have some great locally sourced desserts,” Long said.
Tickets for the Restaurant Walk are $35 for adults, and the ticket includes two free Sawtooth Brewery beers. Families with up to four kids under 18 can get a single collective ticket for $75, while young adults ages 13-21 can get tickets for $15, kids 5-12 can participate for $5 and kids under 5 are free.
The price of participation includes 16 stubs—one for each participating restaurant—and one chance at a raffle drawing that will be held during the street party. Raffle prizes are $50 gift certificates from the participating restaurants.
Long said the event is a good way to connect consumers directly with local food producers as well as to help get more locally grown food into restaurants.
“If we can get restaurants in the valley incentivized to buy more food from local farmers, they can shift our economy and our overall health,” she said.
The event came about after an older one called the Sun Valley Harvest Festival, which ran for eight years, eventually petered out after the organizers decided to stop putting it together. Long and the Local Food Alliance took up the mantle and relocated the event to Hailey.
Long said the old event had been organized as a high-end foodie experience aimed at bringing in visitors to the valley, but the Local Food Alliance shifted its focus toward making the new event a draw for locals.
“We endeavored to rebrand it as an event for our community to showcase the abundance and variety in our own region,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to help people understand the importance of sourcing locally. Harvest Fest gives our community the opportunity for a great and fun event that they can feel good about because they’re supporting our local farmers.”