HAILEY — It’s a movable feast, in the words of Sun Valley’s most famous author Ernest Hemingway.
The Wood River Valley HarvestFest is back for its third year with the opportunity for foodies to stroll between Hailey restaurants, acquainting themselves with unique dishes prepared by local chefs using seasonal fruits, vegetables and meats produced by farmers ranging from the Magic Valley to Bellevue.
The largest food festival in the Sun Valley area, it will take place from 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. It is sponsored by the Local Food Alliance, founded in 2013 to bring more locally and regionally grown food to the plates of Wood River Valley families.
“The idea is to have restaurants source and serve food grown by local Idaho farmers and have diners try restaurants they might never have tried before,” said organizer Ali Long. “Participants can feel good because they’re enjoying the harvest season, trying foods made by Hailey chefs using foods produced by Idaho growers.”
Last year’s Harvestfest fell during the full moon. But, instead of illuminating the fields so farmers could gather their harvest in the days before tractors had headlights, the moon shone a light on a sell-out crowd of 350 people enjoying the fruits of the harvest.
Maddie Piggins took in last year’s events with three of her fellow high school students. They happily noshed on the various dishes, which include pulled pork sandwiches featuring a honey mustard glaze and homemade bread, analyzing the taste explosions with each bite.
“It’s an awesome way to spend a Saturday night,” said Piggins.
This year’s event will kick off with a Food Fair & Market from 3 to 5 p.m. outside the Wood River Sustainability Center, 308 S. River Street in Hailey. The fair has been expanded to include a mini-Saturday farmer’s market that will be open to everyone, whether or not they’re taking part in the restaurant walk.
HarvestFest ticket holders will be invited to sample appetizers prepared by local chefs, as well as wines from top Idaho vineyards, during the fair.
The HarvestFest Restaurant Walk will follow from 5 to 7 p.m. and will include tastes from 14 participating Hailey restaurants, along with two beer or wine tickets.
The restaurants are grouped closely together near Hailey’s Main Street corridor so that diners can stroll from one to the other. Participants will be given either green sporks or orange sporks, with the green spork holders encouraged to start with the restaurants to the east of the Sustainability Center and the orange spork holders to the west in order to spread out diners.
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Syringa Mountain School — the valley’s Waldorf-inspired charter school — will entertain children ages 2 through 12 with crafts, games and snacks at the Syringa Kids Corral from 5 to 8 p.m., while parents embark on the restaurant walk. Cost is $20 per child.
Following the Restaurant Walk, HarvestFest goers are invited to circle back to the Wood River Sustainability Center for dessert and a street party.
Hand-crafted desserts and fresh brewed coffee will be provided by Toni’s Ice Cream, Atkinsons’ Market, BlackOwl Coffee, The Coffee House and Hailey Coffee Company.
The Heaters, who have been serving up classic rock and roll cover songs since the 1970s, will provide live music during a HarvestFest Street Party that will run from 7 to 10 p.m. outside the Sustainablity Center.
The dance is open to non-ticket holders, as well as ticket holders, with wine, beer and handcrafted cocktails from the Roadbars drink truck available for purchase.
This year’s participating restaurants include Lago Azul.
Jose Luis Castillo says his grandmother Sandra Castillo came to the States from El Salvador, returning several times to gather her 13 children. She started out in the cleaning business but opened Lago Azul, naming it after a lake in her native country, when she realized how unique a mix of El Salvadoran and Mexican food would be in Hailey.
The Hailey Firefighters will show why firefighters deserve their reputation as some of the best in the kitchen as they serve up firehouse barbecue.
“But you oughta see me with a Dutch oven — I just started baking a Chicago deep dish pizza that is outstanding,” said Deputy Chief Mike Baledge.
Other participating restaurants include the Wood River Sustainability Center, The Red Shoe, daVinci’s Sawtooth Brewery, KB’s, Dang’s Thai Cuisine, Hank and Sylvie’s, Jersey Girl, International Cowboy Cocina, divine, CK’s, Smokey Bone BBQ and A Taste of Thai.