Farm 2 Fork Fest will happen, but as take-out

This year’s Farm 2 Fork Festival won’t look like this one, seen in September 2016 in Saranac Lake’s Riverside Park. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

SARANAC LAKE — While most other summer events have been canceled, the Farm 2 Fork Festival will happen despite the COVID-19 pandemic — but not like usual.

The 11th annual food festival will still be held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend — that’s Sept. 5 this year — in the village of Saranac Lake. And it is still intended to highlight farms around the area by making meals from their ingredients for people to enjoy, for a small fee.

But pretty much everything else about Farm 2 Fork will be different this year.

There will be no big tent, under which cooks and servers work and around which patrons proceed from station to station, getting each part of their meal. There will be no crowds, no mingling and no eating your food right there on site. It won’t be in Riverside Park anymore, and you won’t be able to spontaneously decide to check it out. You’ll have to plan ahead.

The volunteer organizers of this year’s festival ask people to preorder meals online at www.Farm2ForkFestival.com between this Wednesday and next Wednesday, Sept. 2. Those meals will be prepared and packaged for take-out, in picnic basket style, and will be ready for contact-less, drive-thru pick-up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5 at the former Trudeau Sanatorium and American Management Association campus. Patrons are asked to approach from Trudeau Road near state Route 3 (Bloomingdale Avenue), enter the campus through the Park Avenue gate and pick up food in the nearby parking lot. Masks and social distancing will be required upon pick-up.

The menu and prices had not been announced or posted online as of Monday evening. Organizer Amanda Ely said pricing will be more flexible and a-la-carte than in past years, which generally had fixed-price menus.

This year’s Farm 2 Fork has a theme, “Community is the Cure,” in honor of the village’s origin in the late 1800s as a place to heal from tuberculosis.

Proceeds of this year’s festival are set to benefit AdkAction, a Saranac Lake-based regional nonprofit group that has over the years taken on projects such as home-delivering local farm food packages during the pandemic, reducing road salt use, saving monarch butterflies and other pollinators, and property tax assessment reform.

“We are fortunate in this region to have access to a wealth of nutritious food grown by hard-working local farmers,” AdkAction Executive Director Brittany Christenson said in a press release. “Since the pandemic hit New York state in March, our Emergency Food Packages project has provided over 40,000 meals to our neighbors in need and purchased over $126,000 worth of ingredients from area farmers. When we work together, we can spread the region’s bounty around to make sure that all people in our communities, especially those who have been hit hard by the pandemic, have a seat at the table of good health and community connection.”

Gail Brill of Saranac Lake, founder of the Adirondack Green Circle, launched Farm 2 Fork after hearing someone at a farmers market ask, “What the heck is this, and how do I cook it?” Other volunteers have run the festival since 2017. It is now partnered with New York state’s TasteNY, which lets local distillers, vintners and brewers take part.

“This has been a difficult time for many people who have been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19, and so we thought it was crucial that we work with local restaurants using ingredients grown on North Country farms for the festival,” Jacob Vennie-Vollrath, a member of the festival’s organizing committee, said in a press release.

Fellow committee member Nick Delaini added, “We’re also thrilled that proceeds will benefit AdkAction, which immediately stepped up to create Emergency Food Packages for local individuals and families facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now more than ever, we need to pull together as a community and support our neighbors.”


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