Attendees visit some of the booths at Flavors of the Valley in White River Junction, Vt. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Willow Wood, 3, of Sharon, Vt., plays with dried beans at the Valley Food and Farms display. Valley Food and Farms is part of Vital Communities. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Samples of cheeses and yogurt from the Peaked Moon Farm in Piermont, N.H. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Whitney Battis and her husband Brent Battis treated visitors to pan seared sea scallops in cauliflower parsnip bisque. They are from B&W Catering based in Canaan, N.H. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Jason Parker, owner of the Angry Goat Pepper Co., talks about his artisanal hot sauces. The company is located in Bradford, Vt. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Lisa Billings, catering manager at Maple St. Catering and Big Fattys Pork Belly, looks over the dwindling plate of pork belly. The crown pleaser had folks coming back again and again for samples. The business is from White River Junction, Vt. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Lauren Nesto, left, and Marina Liot represent the Lebanon Diner. Lauren works there and Marina's parents own the business. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Herbs and lettuce at the Killdeer Farm display. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Here, try a carrot: Karen Fryer of Killdeer Farm in Norwich, Vt., offers a sample. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Chris Jacobson of Hartland, Vt., explains the making of polenta at the Upper Valley Coop booth. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Sylvia Provost, owner of Henderson's Tree and Garden Service in White River Junction, Vt., shows off some spring flowers. (Medora Hebert photograph)
Falling on the first gorgeous spring day after a winter that wouldn’t quit, Flavors of the Valley was “definitely competing” with the weather, said coordinator Emily Gardner. Nonetheless, the annual tasting expo for local food drew about 900 people.
The crowd at the April 12 event at Hartford High School included a group of Dartmouth students who arrived by bicycle and “a lot of 20- and 30-year-olds looking to get into the buy-local movement,” Gardner said. Previous expos have attracted about 1,200 people, with a big rush over the course of a few hours, but this year’s smaller, steadier flow gave visitors more time to get to know the farmers and vendors. Sponsored by Valley Food & Farm, a program of Vital Communities, the expo featured “some really high-end food production,” as local chefs and farmers joined forces, she said. “There has been a really big shift in the area,” as restaurants look to source ingredients locally and let customers know that they’re doing so, Gardner said.
Meat, prepared foods, ice cream and other frozen goods were among the many products available for purchase, and every year, vendors seem to bring more. “This event has kind of changed into this wonderful shopping forum,” said Gardner, who expects the trend to continue.
Her advice for next year’s visitors: “Bring your cooler.”
— Aimee Caruso