Wednesday, May 10, 2006

more small-town foodie festivals

Y'all know about the Lafayette Oatmeal Festival, but would you believe that this area here just east of Boulder (Lafayette, Louisville, Erie, and Superior--all smallish towns) supports all sorts of other food-related celebrations? According to the local paper, which recently published a list of upcoming summer events, about half of them are all about eating and drinking: Lafayette Wine Festival, Lafayette Peach Festival, the Celebrate Lafayette with a free pancake breakfast (and a perfomance by the Nacho Men), the Erie Town Fair with food vendors, ditto for the Louisville Downtown Street Faire, the Louisville Picnic in the Park, the Spaghetti Open Golf Tournament, Erie's annual Biscuit Day, the Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast, and the Chili Fest. Whew! I'm tempted to go to Biscuit Day just because it's called Biscuit Day.

This plethora of food festivals makes sense, though: food and culture are inextricably linked. Few celebrations occur without food and drink involved. Comme summer, people want to picnic and grill and eat local produce. (Local? Peaches don't actually grow in Lafayette nor biscuits in Erie. But it still sounds good.) We want funnel cake from a stand and snow cones that turn our tongues unnatural colors and roasted corn on the cob. We want summer festivals, even though we're towns so small that no one outside the Denver/Boulder metro area has ever heard of us, and we want food with our festivals, thank you very much.


Blogger ringloss said...

Believe it or not, during the time that Colorado was a Territory, this stretch of the Front Range was known for it's acres and acres of shimmering biscuit orchards.

The mild climate, frequent sunshine, and ready access to the gravy mines in Nederland and Ward, made Erie the biggest biscuit producer west of the Polkville-North Wilkesboro "North Carolina Biscuit Axis".

Unfortunately, after statehood was attained in 1876 Erie's preeminence on the nation's breakfast tables declined. With increased competition rising from the South after the end of Reconstruction, and the disasterous effects of Cramming-Pillsbury Act (signed by Rutherford B. Hayes to reward his childhood friend Charles Alfred Pillsbury for assistance in forcing the "Compromise of 1877" to end the contentious 1876 presidential election) Erie focused more and more of it's energies towards the mining of coal. When the formerly vast gravy reserves in the foothills to the West were finally emptied in 1887 there were only six biscuit farmers left. The final train left the Erie depot (bound for Kansas City) on October 14th of that year carrying the final biscuit harvest Colorado would see.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I've read that another factor in the success of the Front Range biscuit orchards was the frequent bacon blizzards, which of course also contributed to the quality of the Nederland gravy mines.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

PS: I just read an article about a medical/food herb used by Native Americans; it's known as "bear-root," or, less commonly, "biscuit-root." So perhaps there's some truth to Ringloss' story!

9:04 AM  

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