by Brandon Fox
The festival season began, as it always does, with the sonic boom created by the Greek Festival held last weekend. You need to make some choices, friends, because it’s here: Time to slap on the sunscreen and check out a few events. Now that Memorial Day weekend is behind us, don’t you want to eat and drink that bikini weight away?
The fancy pre-party to Broad Appétit will be held at Pasture on Saturday, June 6, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. It’s your chance to rub shoulders with culinary luminaries such as sort-of-homeboy Bryan Voltaggio of Family Meal, Los Angeles’ Chad Colby of Chi Spacca, and Nightingale 9 and Norma Jean’s Rob Newton from Brooklyn. Local ingredients are de rigueur, along with local beer, wine and spirits. Pasture, 416 E. Grace St., 780-0416. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased at broadappetit.com/off-broad-2015.html.
Barbecue Beer Bash for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
On Saturday, June 6, from 3-9 p.m., you can honor the firefighters who protect us at Center of the Universe Brewing Co., while sampling a few brews, barbecue and live music. A silent auction is planned to benefit the foundation and a portion of beer proceeds will be given as well. Center of the Universe Brewing Co., 11293 Air Park Road, Ashland. Call 368-0299 or visit cotubrewing.com.
Ashland Strawberry Faire
Pro tip: Stock up on whipped cream before you go. It’s impossible to attend this event without buying strawberries — and inevitably more berries than you need, but never more than you want. Besides strawberries, this bustling affair brings out nearly 300 vendors, including food trucks, kids’ activities, live music, a Miss and Mister Strawberry pageant and a pet pageant as well. Randolph-Macon College, 204 Henry St., Ashland. ashlandstrawberryfaire.com.
Southern Season’s What Can You Do With a Chicken?
For the omnivore, chicken is a weeknight staple. How, though, to disrupt the same cycle of chicken dishes that endlessly repeats for most of us? You can take a class with chef John Maxwell to bone up on your butchering skills and add a thing or two to your repertoire, such as sautéed chicken breast with cider beurre blanc. $45. Southern Season, 2250 Staples Mill Road. Call 592-3446 or visit southernseason.com to reserve your spot.
This mammoth festival gets bigger and bigger each year. Local chefs — 68 in all — try to outdo each other with $3 sample plates, and you can always get a sense of who’s going to win the To Dine For award by checking out the lines in front of each booth. Demos, “Iron Chef”-style competitions, local beer, Virginia wine and live music round out the event that takes place Sunday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on West Broad between Henry and Adams streets. broadappetit.com.
Isley Brewing Co.’s Second Annual Luau
Hula dancing, a limbo contest and music with Bang Bash Punch and Bluz Catz will take over the brewery at this Hawaiian themed event. Sip a special brew or two and bring a furry friend along to sit by you on the patio. The action takes place Saturday, June 13, from noon to 10 p.m. Isley Brewing Co., 1715 Summit Ave. Call 716-2132 or visit isleybrewingcompany.com.
The Third Annual Richmond Bacon Festival
The smell of bacon can practically wake the dead — or a sleeping teenager — and the mere mention of everyone’s favorite pork product brings out the crowds. You can find both savory and sweet versions at this expanded festival — chocolate bacon pops, bacon sliders, bacon clam cakes and a bunch of other stuff you never knew would be even more delicious with bacon in it on Sunday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be plenty of beer and wine to wash it down and a little music to distract from all the chewing going on around you. 17th Street Farmers’ Market, 100 N. 17th St. enrichmond.org/event/3rd-annual-bacon-festival.
Farm Dinner at Manakintowne Specialty Growers
The season to eat out in an idyllic pastoral setting also has begun. Manakintowne Growers and Rappahannock chef Dylan Fultineer are pulling out all the stops with a a farm tour, tasting and dinner on June 11 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $150 For information, call 545-0565.