It's Party Time at The Culinary Festival!
Annual Event Is One of Scottsdale's Top Scenes
There's food – but mostly fun – at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.
The Scottsdale Culinary Festival is one of the premier events in all of Arizona. It ranks right up there with the Phoenix Open golf tournament in February. Tens of thousands of people– many of them Scottsdale's most eligible singles – turn out for food, drink and large-scale socalizing.
For them, it's an annual event marked on the party calendar as prominently as New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day and, of course, the Phoenix Open. It's no recent fad either, the 2011 event will be the 33rd, making it the oldest continuous food and drink festival in the country.
While most people equate the festival with the huge weekend party known at the Great Arizona Picnic, it is actually an entire week's worth of events.
Starting early in the week, the festival kicks off with great culinary events at many of Scottsdale’s best restaurants and bars. These events showcase some of the best chefs in the valley and are sponsored by the likes of Bacardi and Absolut, as well as great beer, wines and champagnes.
As the weekend comes into view, the festival opens on Friday night with the "Eat Drink and be Pretty" party (7-11 p.m., $70, includes food and drink samples). Some of the weekend events other than the Great Arizona Picnic are: Bubbles and Bliss (Tuesday, April 13, $40), Cooks and Corks (Saturday and Sunday, $75 and $65), Chefs Wine Dinner (Saturday 6:30, $125)) and the Wine Country Brunch (Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., $65).
The smiles are as bright as the sunshine.
The Great Arizona Picnic is the Culinary Festival's highlight event.
Live music part of the melody found at this Scottsdale social event.
The Great Arizona picnic is a great Scottsdale event.
But once Saturday rolls around, the Great Arizona Picnic takes center stage.
Set on a large area of the Scottsdale Civic Center (on the grass of the Scottsdale Center for the Arts), the picnic has something for everyone. Three stages of live entertainment keep the tens of thousands of people rocking all day long with all types of music, mostly local bands.
More than 50 restaurants set up booths throughout the plaza with samples of every type of food and drink available.There are also grilling stations and demonstrations to satisfy one's curiosity.
Yet for singles, the real action – the event's equivalent of the Phoenix Open's famed Bird's Nest – is at the Absolut tent, the beer garden and the Margarita Village.
The Absolut tent is by far the most rocking place at the festival. The crowd gets going early and the place is packed all day. Absolut serves up every flavor of vodka imaginable and it flows all day long.
Aloha from one of the many food booth vendors.
The Festival also includes many other events making for a full week.
People take advantage of all the events during Culinary Festival week.
This is the place where the young good-looking crowds from Scottsdale come to mingle. There is always a line to get in but it moves pretty fast because all the bathrooms are outside the tent and people have to wait in line to get back inside. It seems, though, that many beautiful people never leave this tent.
The beer garden, also called the Southwest Festival of Beers, features more than 200 different types brews from 30+ breweries. The beer garden gets a lively crowd of all ages and is nonstop fun. Everyone gets a lanyard taster cup for all the different samples.
The Margarita Village is always a great place to grab a tasty margarita and shots of tequila. They also serve their tasty Mexican fare, bringing even more diversity to the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.
The Scottsdale Culinary Festival provides funds for the Scottsdale League for the Arts (SLA).
Scottsdale Culunary Festival Top Tiips:
• The 2013 Scottsdale Culinary Festival is April 9-14
• Opening times for the Great America Picnic are noon-10 p.m. (Sat.), and noon-6 p.m. (Sun.)
• Arrive early for the weekend's event.
• Pace yourself; this is more akin to a daily party marathon, not a sprint.
• Bring cash.
• The lines are
much shorter and the bathrooms much more accessible at the beer garden than than at the Absolut tent.
• Admission is $10, with scripts sold for food and drink.• Volunteers are always welcome; work four hours and receive special benefits.
• Phone: (480) 945.7193.
• Official website of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.
Reporting and photos from PubClub Correspondent David Cox.