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Passports in Hand, Palm Coast Discovers Its Festive Internationalism

| June 3, 2012

The folcloric dance group Raices de Colombia welcomed the noon crowd today at Palm Coast's Town Center, site of the first, and likely annual, International Food and Wine Festival. click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast may well have discovered how to host a festival with down home charm even as it went global to do it: the International Food and Wine Festival taking place Saturday and again Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. has those rare ingredients of successful festivals: a mix of the intimate and the urbane, at the finally affordable admission cost of $3 per person. The city, along with Beach 92, the radio station, are hosting the first, and hopefully the first of many, annual International Food and Wine Festival at Central Park in Town Center.

If it weren’t for the buzz-fly clutter of political candidates peddling campaign paraphernalia every two and a half steps (and multiplying the number of booths) you could have thought yourself at an Epcot annex. Coincidentally or not, food vendors from a half dozen countries and regions–or, in one case, the entirety of Africa–were arranged around the park’s lake, just as Epcot’s World Showcase is spread around Showcase Lagoon.

There weren’t that many places represented–Hawaii, the Philippines, Poland, the Mediterranean (gyros are claimed by everyone from Greece to Israel), Africa, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, rumors of France and Germany, and if you threw in non-foody booths, places such as Grenada in the Caribbean. Then again for all of Epcot’s claim to be a world showcase, it comes down to just 11 countries, including the United States and Canada, which don’t really count food-wise (the United States because it’s in your fridge when you go home, and Canada because the only cuisine it can call its own besides poutine–the dish that keeps every Canadian cardiologist in business–it owes to immigrants.

Most dishes are reasonably priced, beginning with small tasters at $1 a serving and topping off at $8 for gyros. In Poland you could get a full taster’s smorgasbord (about five or six items) for about $12, not including Zywiec beer. On Saturday, the wine took a while to make it to Central Park, but it finally did around 3 p.m.

Beach 92 had lined up a dozen entertainment groups for both days, including performances tuned to Polynesian, Latino, African, Portuguese and American traditions. Add some bagpipes for Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. The festival continues today through 5 p.m.

The welcoming sight at the entrance to the festival: a Hawaiian-Filipino pig roast. (© FlaglerLive)

County Commissioner George Hanns, finding his way with his passport. (© FlaglerLive)

If George Hanns and Alan peterson get their pictures in, their opponents should have a crack at exposure too: Charlie Ericksen, left--he's challenging Peterson--and Herb Whitacker, right, who's sharpening his rematch knives against Hanns. (© FlaglerLive)

Foof of the gods: meat for your gyro. (© FlaglerLive)

The country Ronald Reagan invaded when he needed to take attention away from the massacre of 251 U.S. Marines in Beirut, circa 1983. (© FlaglerLive)

The Ancient City Pipes and Drum Bagpipe Band, previously of St. Augustine, now of Palm Coast. On Saturday, some 15 band members performed at the festival. They practice every Tuesday 6-9 pm at the Portuguese American Cultural Society on Palm Harbor Parkway. (Patrick Juliano)

Palm Coast City Council member Bill Lewis, seated at right, finally finds himself a VIP tent he can call his own. (© FlaglerLive)

Someone should tellk them the word 'Oriental' isn't too kosher anymore. That's county commissioner Alan Peterson taking a risk in Asian territory. (© FlaglerLive)

The politicos littered the grounds. (© FlaglerLive)

The view from Poland. (© FlaglerLive)

palm coast international food and wine festival.

(© FlaglerLive)

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13 Responses for “Passports in Hand, Palm Coast Discovers Its Festive Internationalism”

  1. PCer says:

    This is my first time hearing of it. Too bad they did not advertise a little better. I hope there is a big turnout.

    [PCer, the fault is partly ours: we dropped the ball on a couple of news releases the city sent us well ahead of time about this. We sincerely apologize.–FL]

  2. SAW says:

    This sounds and looks like good fun and good food, just one question of interest who gets the three dollars, the city, Beach 92 or the vendors ?

  3. palmcoaster says:

    The International Food Festival looks like a great succes to me. Yesterday was really crowded…food and music was good.

  4. Liana G says:

    Same here PCer. Had I known maybe my Singaporean / Indonesian big sister/adopted mom and I could have set up an authentic South East Asian booth. She is always telling me me should do this sort of stuff since we both enjoy making our traditional native dishes. I still have food in my freezer from when she was over at my house cooking last weekend. Great call on the city’s part to host an event that embraces cultural diversity. Kudos!

  5. kmedley says:

    “Buzz-fly clutter of political candidates peddling campaign paraphernalia” aside, we had a great time each day and it was a pleasure to meet so many nice people. The food was great, especially the Bar B Que from Africa!

  6. Mike says:

    What? I didn’t even heard about this! I could have got my mom to break out her awesome Asian cooking skills and bring some South East Asian flavors to Palm Coast. If only….*sigh*

  7. Rain says:

    This is not the first time an event has gone on and so many people had no idea it was happening.

  8. Jim says:

    A wine and food fest without the WINE!

    I thought the first year event went off well.  This is an event the COPC should support; not sure the Rockin rib fest is an palm coast image.  (rib fest should be a Bunnell thing)

    Okay things to improve on:

    Where was the wine?  Not sure I saw any.

    The booths where too close together ; spread out.

    Add more seating areas

    I hope the COPC made a lot of money off the politicians because they were a pain to walk around!

    Did COPC approach the local ethnic clubs to have a booth which could be a fund raiser for the club or the club’s designated charity.    The Germany booth was staffed by a bunch of Jamaican guys.

    The Italian American club should be embarrassed by what was represented at the event for Italy.

    Did the COPC approach the culinary program at the local school to participate?  They could either have cooked foods representing a country or they could offer cooking instructions.

    Offer some 10-15 mins classes on cooking

    Wine tasking classes (have wine at a wine and food fest)

    The Kid area was great, good value and needs to be expanded.  Add a few more inflatable’s

    Next year try to avoid fair type vendors; I know this maybe difficult but try.  It would be nice if you could standardize the booths. (i.e. like EPCOT)

    Too expensive; heck EPCOT is cheaper.  Average booth ticket requirement was 8 tickets.  But the portions were large.  Offer smaller portions and lower prices.  Try to average $4 for food and $2 for wine (need more wine)

    Integrate credit card service:  Allow people to pay at the booths with Credit cards, again like EPCOT.  There are so many economic ways to take CC wirelessly now.  Have a COPC employee at each booth accepting CC.

  9. palmcoaster says:

    The 3 dollars admission probably to offset the city expenses that may include law enforcement and emergency services ready on site also sure they have to pay for the musicians performing as that was free to all. The enclosure of the whole area in order to be able to control the entry fee all the tables,benches, chairs, umbrellas, mini tents, personnel and the firewors.Forgot anything?. I also understand that the city get a percentage of the food and beverages sales and that could be the reason why we have to buy the tickets to pay for food and drink. Some food was less expensive than other, was a matter of choice in what pick for which appetite. Spending 20 to 29 bucks for two people in food desert and drink that included the dance and music free show, is not what I would call expensive. In these hard economic times we should all take along our folding chairs hanging from our shoulders and seat whenever we liked best…as most and we did .Reason I see, is that is very expensive for the city to rent tables and chairs for thousands of happy event goers. Just take a little planning for us all, to take along our folding seating. I agree that probably at least just the food and beverages booths needed a bit more space in between. Oh boy that polish food was yummy!! Too bad my appetite only allow me one country delight. The tkts booth could have been a little smaller and more numerous.That was nice that pooches were allowed and all the one’s I saw were so well behaved.

    Congratulations to our City Event Coordinator Lisa Gardner and to the City Manager Jim Landon and the City Council promoting these festivals that will end up placing Palm Coast in the Tourism Map. Also a big hand to all our different etnic organizations for the displays and delicious food.
    Lets do not bash all the candidates running for office present there….after all we are a democratic republic and better to get to know them candidates wherever we can. At least any candidate that was NOT present was NOT because he/she were denied a booth right? Good show for all those candidates there, that were enduring the Florida sun since early day, to give us a small chat on their candidacy platforms.

  10. tulip says:

    Maybe the candidates that didn’t have a booth just wanted to go and enjoy the festival themselves, and not annoy people with politicing. I know I didn’t want to stand around in the hot sun and listen to politicians. I can read their flyers and go to candidates meetings, etc. for that.

  11. palmcoaster says:

    Was supposed to be “ethnic”…sorry.

  12. SAW says:

    Palmcoaster you say the three bucks was PROBABLY to offset city expenses, maybe a simple question but still not a factual answer ?

  13. palmcoaster says:

    @Saw, if you or anyone wants to call the City Event Coordinator Mrs. Lisa Gardner at (386) 986-2341 I am sure she will be able to explain to you in detail any questions you may have.
    I do not work for the city and being just a resident tax payer I never hesitate to ask them questions. I believe that a detail disclosure of revenues and expenditures to the public, generates trust and I am all for it. Lisa is a very cordial and knowledgeable city official and she is doing a great job in all these events wether food and music festivals or sports competitions. I believe these events wildly advertise our city and county, are self paid and as city manager Jim Landon said a while ago, even leave the city some revenue besides, providing local affordable entertainment for the community. We have have in Palm Coast all the tools needed for these events; the diverse ethnic population, the lovers of cultural events, the health conscious competing sports enthusiast, our beautiful parks, bike paths, water fronts and our intracoastal and beach. I recall famous events in big cities around our nation look into the NY marathon, Austin and Brandson music festivals, Maine Lobster feast, Daytona Bike and Race events and thousands more. I sat in the sand in Miami South beach in 1996 with thousands more, to delight Pavarotti’s live free performance in appreciation to Dade County that gave him the first opportunity to sing in the USA. People were allowed to bring their champagne and glasses in iced cold buckets to the beach. We sat elbow to elbow and enjoyed his voice. I never seeing in my life before that huge multitude of people. Every time I visit my kid in Phoenix AZ there is a city Event of some kind going on and not only is attended by the locals but also by outsiders from CA, CO and NM, etc, as well and all generate revenue for the local economy. I was so happy to see the large crowds that attended our International Food Festival.
    I think we should all support our city and county events… and when you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them “where is the beef”

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