Culture, Collaboration, and Local Food

When we look back through the history of festivals, events or gatherings related to farming, food, and harvests – you’ll find that each will have their own version or interpretation of what that celebration represents. From the ancient sacrifices in honor of Greek gods, to our modern-day hometown harvest festivals – you won’t find one occasion quite the same.  One contributing factor to those differences, is location. A harvest festival in Spain often highlights grapes, where here in Michigan we celebrate cherries and blueberries. Our geography and local climate largely determine when we hold these events and what they celebrate. Another important piece is the people. Throughout history cultural influences such as religion, art, politics, and business have shaped rituals that find their way into being. As time goes on, activities evolve, disappear, grow, and sometimes become honored by tradition. Many cultures mention in their own ways, the importance of coming together as a group, family or community and the vital social connection these moments bring.These same reasonings can be applied to the MQT Local Food Fest,

This event in its second year, happing Saturday, September 29th in the Central Upper Peninsula. The MQT Local Food Fest is taking place at the Barrel + Beam Brewery in Marquette, Michigan. The new and unique, Barrel + Beam, pairs sours beers and farmhouse ales with the memories of the old Northwoods Lodge, a space that once was home to a supper club that connected the community through culture, entertainment, good drinks and great food.  

MLFF4Flavors of the event also directly correlate with the location. TLD Certified Local Food Events allow event attendees to know the actual percentage of local food used to produce the meal as well as provides a sampling of the truly local ingredients. Thanks to the Chefs & the Farmers this event will provide some the best reflections of our Upper Peninsula cuisine.

In regard to the MQT Local Food Fest – people are the most important. My summer seemed to flash before my eyes, and I rarely found time to do all the things I hoped and wished – but also did a lot. From Sault St. Marie to Menominee and from Hessel to Houghton, I’ve been all over this our great peninsula this summer for magazine release parties, educational events, conferences, festivals, health fairs, board meetings, planning committees and of course farmers markets – and in those experiences I have met bushels of individuals who have stories I want to tell.

Some particular groups of people I want to thank:

  1. Sponsors – From our sponsors who support our mission to improve and gain respect for those who work in and around food, to increase access of local fresh food and improve community health, to bring people together as a team, and most importantly to increase awareness on the importance of supporting our local economy.
    Sponsors include: Ojibwa Casinos, Marquette Food Coop, Travel Marquette, the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, NMU Hospitality Faculty & Alumni, and the Radio Results Network.
    2. The Team – There is a team of individuals and Chefs who are responsible for the planning and success of this event. I’d love to name them all and go on and on about why they are so great – but instead you’ll just have to follow the event on Instagram: @mqtlocalfoodfest
    3. The Attendees –  We need people who are excited to sample delicious food and learn more about the inworking’s of local food systems. Tickets are $25 per person and include free food samples all throughout the day, entrance to tasting the NMU Alumni ChefMLFF3Competition Appetizers, a swag bag, and two live bands during the event. From 2-4 we will have some fun activities to keep the little ones busy and at the end of the night we have food trucks providing late night satisfaction.

I’ve worn a lot of hats these last few months, but event planner is truly my favorite. And when it comes to my Taste the Local Difference work in the UP – I believe collaboration is the true success in our success. So please join me, September 29th at Barrel + Beam for our own unique Local Food Fest in Marquette, MI.

More information & Tickets can be found on our Facebook Event: MQT Local Food Fest

Alex Palzewicz is the UP Local Food Coordinator and after a busy month of catering in September she will be focusing on traveling the UP to learn more about local food systems in the region – shoot her an email to see when she’ll be passing through your area at [email protected].