Summer Times 2015: Food Fests

Summer festivals offer hidden pleasures for famished foodies.

Barbecue. Blueberries. Gyros and baklava. A bite of this and that from dozens of local restaurants.

It’s festival season in Central New York. The area is chock-full of them — and that’s a good thing. Here are nine of the tastiest ones to have on your radar — and on your calendar. Break out of your usual routine and visit one that’s new to you.

Taste of Syracuse

When: June 5 and June 6, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Where: Clinton Square and vicinity, downtown Syracuse

In a nutshell:  Feed your face with $1 samples (and more substantial offerings) from dozens of CNY restaurants. New to the Taste this year are Heid’s, Notch 8, The Black Olive and Prime Steakhouse, among others.

Worth noting: Free admission and free entertainment on three stages, including festival headliner Bret Michaels (June 6).

Information:, 471-9597

Old-Tyme Rhubarb Festival (and Classic Car Cruise-In)

When: June 6, noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Montezuma Winery, 2981 Auburn Road, Seneca Falls

In a nutshell: Celebrate rhubarb season with fresh rhubarb, rhubarb pies, rhubarb crisp and rhubarb chili. Not crazy about rhubarb? You’ll also find hotdogs, hamburgers, salt potatoes and wine.

Worth noting: Dozens of classic cars are expected to roll in for the event. Montezuma Winery (and Hidden Marsh Distillery) are known for their fruit, grape and honey wines and spirits.


St. Sophia’s Greek Cultural Festival

Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

Homemade baklava Ready to be served.
Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

When: June 11 (5 to 9 p.m.), June 12 (5 to 10 p.m.), June 13 (12 to 10 p.m.) and June 14 (12 to 4 p.m.)

Where: St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church, 325 Waring Road, DeWitt.

In a nutshell: Enjoy a smorgasbord of Greek specialties, like spanakopita, souvlaki, moussaka and gyro, and watch the dancers in colorful costumes, giving it their all on stage. But pace yourself and save room for dessert. The baked goods, like baklava and loukoumades (fried honey puffs) are legendary.

Worth noting: Free admission, parking, shuttle and entertainment.

Information:, 446-5222

Syracuse Polish Festival

Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

Pierogi Polish dish.
Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

When: June 19 (4 to 10:30 p.m.), June 20 (noon to 10:30 p.m.) and June 21 (noon to 5 p.m.)

Where: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse

In a nutshell:  Choose from a menu of  traditional Polish fare, including kielbasa, pierogi, golabki (cabbage rolls) and Bigos (hunter’s stew) and wash it down with Polish beers. Can you polka? Dance off the food.

Worth noting: Free admission, free entertainment (dancers, Polka bands, etc.). Funds raised benefit the Polish Scholarship Fund.


Syracuse M&T Jazz Festival

When: July 17 and 18. 5 to 10 p.m. (Gates open at 3 p.m.)

Where: Onondaga Community College Campus

In a nutshell: The big draw is the music, including headliners Wynton Marsalis and Aretha Franklin. But you’ll find plenty of good stuff to eat on the OCC campus and it’s not your usual festival food. Jazz Fest Founder and Executive Producer Frank Malfitano says the response was so positive last year to the presence of local food trucks that more will be on site this year to both expand the offerings and reduce waiting lines. Food trucks participating this year include the new Heid’s mobile food unit, the Chicken Bandit, Effortlessly Healthy, Columbus Bakery, Peppino’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Shattuck’s Paddy Wagon, among others. There will also be wine from Greenwood Winery, DeWitt, and local and regional craft beers.

Worth noting: Free admission; pay for parking, food, beverages.


St. Elias Midde Eastern Cultural Festival

Chick pea hummus. Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

Chick pea hummus.
Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

When: July 10 (4 to 10 p.m.), July 11 (noon to 10 p.m.) and July 12 (noon to 6 p.m.)

Where: St. Elias Antiochan Orthodox Christian Church, 4988 Onondaga Road, Onondaga

In a nutshell: Nosh on shish kabob, stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie and hummus while listening to traditional music and watching the dancers. Top it off with  with sweet pastries and strong Arabic coffee. Like to cook? Pick up a copy of Good Eating the Arabic Way, a cookbook featuring hundreds of recipes tested over time and contributed by the women of the church.

Worth noting: Free admission, parking and entertainment.

Information:, 488-0388

St. George Macedonian Orthodox Church Festival

When: July 31 (4 to 10 p.m.), Aug. 1 (noon to 11 p.m.), Aug. 2 (noon to 7 p.m.)

Where: 5083 Onondaga Road (Route 173), Onondaga

In a nutshell: Go for the music and folk dancing. Stay for the pig roast, grilled meats and ethnic fare and traditional Macedonian baked goods.

Worth noting: Free admission, parking and entertainment.

Information:, 487-1265

Blueberry Jam

Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

Michael Davis Photo | Syracuse New Times

When: Saturday, August 15 (music starts at noon)

Where: Critz Farms/Harvest Moon Cidery, 3232 Rippleton Road (Route 13), Cazenovia

In a nutshell: Family friendly event at the popular agri-tourism destination featuring blueberry picking, blueberry treats, bands on two stages and entertainment and activities for the kids. Be sure to try the Blueberry Moon hard cider, which is infused with blueberry juice.

Worth noting: There is an admission charge; check the website for more information.

Information:, 662-3355

Glorious Garlic Festival

When: August 1 and 2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Fox Run Vineyards, 670 Route 14, Penn Yan (Seneca Lake West)

In a nutshell: Many types of garlic are grown in the Finger Lakes. Thousands of visitors will gather on the vineyard grounds to sample creations from the garlic-laden festival menu created by Rochester chef Tony Gullace to pair with Fox Run’s wines. The cafe will feature a garlic-focused menu as well.

Worth noting: Fox Run is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The Glorious Garlic Festival is now in its 23rd year.

Information:, 536-4616

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