Western MA Spring Food Festivals Strengthen Ties to Local Culture

Spring Food Festivals Strengthen Ties to Local Culture

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One of the biggest factors tying food to culture is habitat. The ecological factors which determine which edible plants thrive in an area partially determines the meals which become a culinary mainstay within that culture. Post globalization, it is possible to find food from all over the world in the United States. Shopping at farm stands and farmers’ markets, and attending local food festivals can reconnect citizens with their local food culture. The community-driven, outdoor nature of these events (particularly in warm months) also drives placemaking. 

If you live in Hadley, you probably know that your town is considered the asparagus capital of the world, with this plant popping up so frequently that people call it “Hadley grass!” As a result of the proliferation of asparagus, Hadley residents may not even think twice about the availability of foods like asparagus ice cream in this area. At the 2016 WGBY Asparagus Festival on Saturday, June 4, 10am-6pm, you can fresh asparagus and other produce at the farmers’ market, shop locally sourced items at the makers’ market, enjoy live music, and more. There will be plenty for kids to do, including a cooking workshop. The location of this event, outdoors on the Hadley town common, encourages social interaction between farmers, makers, and community members which can lead to educational conversations about agriculture and crafting. Route 9/Russell Street. Hadley, MA.

Similarly, the Lenox Rhubarb Festival held outside of the Lenox Library on Saturday, May 28, is an example of a unique and community-building use of public space. This festival sheds a new light on the ingredient, rhubarb, as you see it used in pies, chili, and even beverages! Learn by example by purchasing a rhubarb recipe booklet and fresh local rhubarb. There will also be rhubarb plants available. Local experts will share advice for those who want to learn how to grow the plant on their own. 413-637-0197. 18 Main Street. Lenox, MA.

[Photo credit (cc) Eric Heath]

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