TUPPER LAKE - It was a good day to show up at The Wild Center hungry.
About 1,000 people attended the museum's annual FlavorFest Thursday - very good numbers for a weekday, even in the summer - and they got to sample Adirondack treats galore throughout the day.
Visitors got a "passport" when they arrived at the museum, and it directed them to 24 tasting stations set up in and around the museum's grounds.
Wild Center employee Natalie Zurek serves up some vichyssoise soup to curious guests on an outdoor walkway.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Food and drink samples included vichyssoise soup made with produce from Thundercrest Farms, a choice of cheese from McCadam Cheese Company, campfire bread made by Adirondack historian Hallie Bond, and veggie crudites with herb dip made with produce from Fledging Crow and Summit farms and Underwood Herbs.
The stations had a loose theme of maple syrup, since The Wild Center started a state-sponsored program last year in which it works with about 60 Tupper Lake families and L.P. Quinn Elementary School classes to tap the sap from trees and boil it down into maple syrup. Maple-relating tasting stations included a maple fizz drink made from Wild Center syrup and seltzer, meatballs with maple barbecue sauce from Sandy Hill and Winding Brook farms, maple ice cream (with a little extra syrup drizzled on top, if you please), maple rhubarb crisp and the museum's maple cotton candy, which has been making the rounds at area festivals for the last two summers.
Adirondack Artisans catered all the stations except for ones attached to actual vendors, Meadow Hackett told the Enterprise during a break from the action toward the end of the day.
Hackett, 19, a Ray Brook resident who is going into her junior year at Villanova University, volunteered at The Wild Center last summer and is interning there this summer. Each intern tackles a few specific projects, and hers include guiding canoe trips, helping plan the fall's Youth Climate Summit and helping museum staffers Kerri Zeimann and Faith McClelland plan FlavorFest, in addition to working in the development office.
She said she was interested in working on the event because as a business student, she is interested in event planning.
She worked with Adirondack Artisans and local farmers to make sure all the food for the tasting stations was bought locally. Most of the farmers were at the museum every Thursday for its weekly farmers market, so she has spent the summer building relationships with them, which she called very rewarding.
The goal of the event was to get people thinking about local food and building relationships with area farmers, so as much as possible, the stations were set up near vendors selling similar products, Hackett said. It's really an extension of the weekly market, she said.
"We have so many great farmers here every week," she said. "Such great people, really dedicated to what they do."
Hackett said she was happy with how the event was going.
"It ended up being a really great day for us," Hackett said. "Everybody was pretty full, so I think people were happy."
The weather stayed sunny and in the high 60s most of the day. Hackett had been fretting through the two previous days of cold and rain, since the event wouldn't have worked as well if all the stations had to be crammed inside. Instead, people got to explore almost all of the museum grounds in the bright sun.
"We got really lucky," Hackett said.
Hackett tried all of the samples said her favorites were a corn and tomato salad by Thundercrest and Fledging Crow farms - she's not normally a tomato person, but it was refreshing - melt-in-your-mouth maple candy from Parker Family Maple and Early Dawn Confections' Anadama Bread with maple butter from the Wild Center Community Maple Project.
The event also included a talk on brewing beer by Lake Placid Pub and Brewery founder Chris Ericson, a visit with Double LL Farm's highland cows Colleen and Alladin, a free photo booth with an elaborate prop table, and live music by several groups of area musicians.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.