The Fayetteville Roots festival has built a strong following on the music scene since inception leading up to this year’s 7th annual version. The food portion of the festival seems primed to share the mainstage with the music this time around with stronger programing to go with a number of top tier chefs from the region.
Last night kicked off the VIP opening party at Garner Farm, and all indication from both festival goers and chefs alike is that this this year will really bring the food forward. The VIP party featured 12 local chefs paired together to create to create six unique dishes to feed the 500 or so in attendance. Each dish was also judged with the winners receiving $1,000 cash prize each. Chefs Jason Paul of Heirloom in Rogers and John Lupton of Greenhouse Grille walked away with the prize.
The events are just beginning and last throughout the weekend, and festival passes are not required for all of it. The Fayetteville public library is hosting a public portion of the food festival that includes films, farm tours, cooking demonstrations, workshops, and a daily taste and talk series. The taste and talk series pairs chefs with food and drink for a moderated discussion.
Festival goers can hit up the daily cooking stage twice a day where local chefs will work up daily specials. These go on from 4-6, and again from 6-8 at the festival plaza in the Fayetteville Town Square. Each of these are judged and the winner receives $1,000.
Finally on Saturday they will have a farmer’s market cookoff where chefs are again paired together. The teams have 1 hour to buy $50 worth of ingredients from the Fayetteville Farmer’s marketing, then cook a dish using only those ingredients along with one mystery ingredient. The winning chef team receives $1,000 each for this competition as well.
With all the great events, the Roots festival feels poised to be a premier food food festival for the state. The generous prize money gives chefs helps keep top chefs coming back each year and attract more for the future. The combination of a solid music lineup helps introduce more people to the growing local food scene.
The festival aims to stay limited in size, so in the future I would love to see more public events to stretch the food portion to reach more people than just the 1,500 passes that the Roots festival sells. Things like a large public food truck component, special dinners held around Fayetteville, and public tastings would add an even stronger value to the local food scene.