Vendors at LA Food Fest will be selling Birdies gourmet donuts, cannabis cocktails from Gracias Madre and Coconut/Acai treats from Amazebowls.
The LA Food Fest is returning this weekend with more vendors, more days, and sort of a new name.
Formally known as the LA Street Food Fest, the LA Food Fest (the name Founder Shawna Dawson told Amplify they’d been using unofficially since the festival’s second iteration) will head to Exposition Park in Los Angeles for its seventh and biggest year. In partnership with independent promoter Nederlander Concerts, the Fest that was previously one day, will now occupy the park and nearby spaces from Friday evening until Sunday (July 8-10).
The event will begin with a long table dinner at the Rose Garden Pop Up Restaurant which costs $150 for the multi-course meal. This is one of the three ticketing options for the Food Fest’s new format. Attendees can also choose a $15 MRKT ticket that grants them access to the festival and pay-as-you-go dining, or a $69 VIP Golden Hour ticket that grants them access to the same grounds, but offers unlimited food for two hours before the MRKT ticket holders can enter.
This is LA Food Fest’s first foray into multiple ticketing tiers and was designed to allow everyone the opportunity to experience as much of the festival as possible. With over 100 local vendors (none of which are chains), attendees can choose their own edible adventure as well as hit up the photo booths, check out the “food porn” cinema, or try cannabis cocktails from Jason Eisner of Gracias Madre. People can also enjoy the craft beer, live events at the Culinary Stage, and Nappify pods, which are mobile napping stations designed to give guests the ultimate power napping experience.
The Food Fest has come a long way since it was founded in 2010 by Dawson. After leaving her position as Yelp’s Director of Marketing and Community, she planned the event in six weeks with the idea that “5,000 people would come,” but “more than 20,000 came and that was rough,” Dawson told Amplify. The overwhelming demand for the event had Dawson scheduling the next festival four months later with a new and larger destination, Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.
“The minute we went to the Rose Bowl we broadened the scope,” she said, adding that her team “still incorporated a number of street vendors which was the impetus for the very first event and also brought in a number of street inspired plates.”
Another new element of the festival is their zero waste initiative. In conjunction with the health department and other partners, the Food Fest hopes to eliminate any wasteful discarding of perfectly edible food. They plan to collect everything from beet tops to prepared foods that cannot legally be sold the next day and deliver it to some of LA’s homeless population with help from L.A. Kitchen. According to Dawson, the event is working really hard to coordinate the ability to pack the remaining food at the end of the day and have it transported quickly enough to get it to local missions. “It’s been a lot more of a challenge than I anticipated,” Dawson admits, “trying to take food and feed people does not feel like something that should be this difficult and it is difficult.” This initiative is the first of its kind for an event of this scale. “We’re going to do our best,” Dawson said. “I don’t know that we will get to zero, it’s a lofty goal.”
The new and improved LA Food Fest begins this Friday with tickets still available in every tier. And as their website likes to recommend, don’t forget your stretchy pants.