With the weather cooling down and the summer people heading home, it’s time for South County to celebrate its culinary prowess – and the end of the busy season – with a series of food festivals happening this month.
Calamari Festival, the annual celebration of all things squid, returns after its two-year pandemic hiatus. According to Narragansett Chamber of Commerce executive director Peg Fradette, the party in honor of the state’s largest catch draws up to 4,000 calamari enthusiasts. “The very first year of the festival, they ran out of calamari,” she recalls about her time attending the inaugural fest.
Tasting ticket holders can sample calamari bites from local restaurants like George’s of Galilee and Coast Guard House as well as eateries as far-flung as Johnston. The Town Dock, known as a seafood wholesaler and processor, is entering the competition for the first time with their team of chefs. A panel of local celebrity judges picks the winning calamari dish. This lighthearted event also features live music and dancing (“under the “TENTacles,” jokes Fradette), food trucks, and throngs of seafood lovers who come dressed as their favorite sea creature. Narragansett, NarragansettCoC.com
When LineSider Brewing’s Mac & Cheese Festival launched last December, it had only 125 tickets available and sold out within 20 minutes. With lessons learned, assistant brewer and event organizer Kyle Toste, along with the brewery owners Dan Koppen and Jeremy Ruff, decided to hold the 2022 event in September and outdoors to accommodate more people.
Even with the more spacious digs, the fest sold out its 800 tickets in under two hours, making it the hottest ticket in the state. The festival invites East Greenwich restaurants to give their creative spin on the namesake dish, andattendees vote for their fave. Last year’s honors went to Union & Main for their mac and cheese dusted with crushed Cheetos; The Trap’s short rib mac and cheese was a close second. Pro-tip for those hoping to snag a spot next year: tickets go on sale on Mac & Cheese Day (July 14). East Greenwich, LineSiderBrewing.com
If you don’t have a ticket yet for Taste of Southern Rhode Island, a celebration of all things culinary in the southern part of the state, grab one fast. “We expect to sell out,” says Joe Viele, executive director of the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. He explains that during the height of COVID, the chamber limited the number of tickets sold. However, it turned out that both the vendors and the attendees preferred the more intimate atmosphere. “They had more time to interact and talk to each other,” Viele says.
Relative newcomers like Gooseneck Vineyards and Seaworthy Coffee Roasters and South County stalwarts like George’s of Galilee and Shaidzon Beer Co. are just a few of the expected 40 or so vendors from South County’s burgeoning hospitality industry offering samples of their food and spirits. “Vendors look forward to doing it; attendees love it,” says Viele. “It’s a great event.” South Kingstown, SRIChamber.com
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