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Millerton Food Festival satisfies appetite for food and fun

MILLERTON — After weeks spent advertising all of the culinary treats to be tasted and the fun to be had in the village on Saturday, Sept. 18, the Millerton Businesses Alliance (MBA) and Main Street Magazine lived up to their promises with the first-ever Millerton Food Festival. The all-day event attracted a large crowd of hungry spectators and a ready group of vendors prepared to feed them this past weekend.

The night before the festival, colorful balloons were set up along village streets as a cheerful invitation to explore the festival and its offerings. Held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the festival drew people throughout the day, welcoming local residents, weekenders, visitors and food enthusiasts in search of their next great culinary adventure — a mission they could easily satisfy at any of the day’s destinations. 

In the early afternoon, the clouds overhead provided nice shade for spectators as they walked in search of something to eat, as well as for the vendors who offered everything from crepes and roasted corn to souvlaki and Southern-style BBQ.

Everywhere one turned, the scent of a delicious aroma could be detected in the air, or the vision of a new dish not yet sampled spotted, perhaps an inviting face ready to serve up something tasty eyed. Sweet, spicy, savory, smoky and salty — these were only a some of the flavors featured among the array of offerings at the food fest.

From Candy O’s and Taro’s to Millerton Wine & Spirits and Merwin Farm & Home, there were specials created especially for the festival by village merchants, many of whom set out tables and chairs on the sidewalks for hungry visitors. 

North East Ford hosted a slew of activities to celebrate the festival, while the Millerton Farmers Market drew a number of visitors exploring the fresh produce, baked goods and other wares on display. 

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail was teeming with people drawn in by the food vendors, farm stands and crafts people who set up booths along the trail. 

Smoke came billowing out of the grill behind the tent for Momma Lo’s Southern-style BBQ; the mouthwatering aroma of ribs and chicken enticed children and their parents to check out the BBQ. Many then finished their meals off with the out-of-this-world array of doughnuts at the Cosmic Donuts tent.

The feedback generated from the Millerton Food Festival couldn’t have been more exuberant.

“Should have done it 10 years ago — that’s how long it should be, this festival,” said Vincent Diaz as he and his family served pulled pork, lemongrass chicken and lemongrass tofu sandwiches from Lemongrass Grill, their family business. “I think it’s great what they did.”

“Not all of the town events will be slam dunks for a business like ours,” said Bob Murphy from the Millerton Antiques Center, “but we are always delighted to participate and very happy that it drew so many people into our town to see first-hand what Millerton has to offer.”

Beyond the food, Thorunn Kristjansdottir from Main Street Magazine said there were good causes within the local community that received attention from the festival, including the 1858 one-room Irondale Schoolhouse and public radio station from Sharon, Conn., Robin Hood Radio.

“I am beyond thrilled to get all of the great and positive feedback from both visitors, vendors and retailers alike,” she said. “For me, it is all about community and bringing people together — and I feel that the Millerton Business Alliance has worked very hard these past few years to bring people together in this village. I think that an event like this helps cement that sentiment.”

She added her office put a lot of work into the event, which helped bring it to fruition after months of logistics “and talking to just about every business in town and getting everyone as involved as we could.”

Kristjansdottir added she was “beyond thrilled about how excited everyone was… the joy and the vibrancy in the air on Saturday was infectious — and that, to me, made all of the hard work worth it.”

With so many people wanting another food festival, she added organizers are already discussing the possibility of making the festival an annual event. Next year, she said, it will be even larger with more food vendors.

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