Here are my Top Ten Tips for surviving and thriving at Portland’s annual gastro-gala.
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FEAST Portland 2017 – Portland’s preeminent food and drink festival – is just around the corner! Today I’m sharing some important tips that I learned when I attended for the first time last year.
Tips for Feast
1. Pace Yourself.
I’m going to let you in on a little known FEAST fact: You do not need to eat all the foods or drink all the drinks to have a successful FEAST. Just because you can eat all of the enticing food deliciousness doesn’t mean you must. On the other hand, it isn’t called FEAST for no reason – Eat, Imbibe, and Enjoy! Just take it one bite or sip at a time so you don’t regret it in the morning.
2. Hydrate. Often.
With Water. This may sound like a no-brainer, but at an event where locally brewed beverages flow as freely as the John Day River, it’s easy to forget good ol’ fashioned Water. There are plenty of water stations at FEAST events: be sure to take advantage of them regularly.
3. Pack light and take a bag.
This year, I will be taking only the following items:
- My tiny cross-body festival purse, which holds my phone, ID, charger, pencil and paper (because sometime you have to go old-school) and a few critical personal items. (I LOVE this bag, by the way. For me, it is the perfect size.)
- My camera bag, with my “good” camera, camera strap, extra batteries, etc. (I wouldn’t even be taking this if I didn’t need images for future posts.)
- A lightweight, stuffable or foldable bag – A bag for swag, extra samples, cards, leftovers and the like is a must; plus it keeps your hands free for beverages, food plates, and gesturing during conversations (which some of us are incapable of suppressing). I particularly like the little feather-light, stuffy-sack reusable grocery bags, like the kind you often find near grocery store check-stands. They come in a variety of fun shapes (apples, oranges, flowers, strawberries, and hedgehogs among others) and compact down to roughly a three-inch ball. I carry mine in my camera case when not in use.
- A lightweight cardigan for evening events. Maybe.
4. Dress comfortably, light, and in layers.
Two words: Elastic waistbands. (I know, I know. You are far too cool for that, right? Well, get over it.) You’ll thank me when you are two-hours into Grand Tasting and your tummy has enough room to do its job without fighting back. Note also that while the weather this year for FEAST promises to be on the warm side, Portland temperatures tend cool down quite a bit as the day wanes, so bring a layer to add for events that stretch into the evening hours.
5. Wear comfortable shoes.
Just do it.
6. Be prepared for dying phones and overloaded WiFi.
Last year, between taking photos, posting to social media, and recording notes, my phone started dying about two hours into FEAST. Luckily, I had access to a charging station, but that isn’t always the case. Remember to charge everything up the night before, and bring a charging cable, as well as a portable external battery phone charger if you have one. Also, be prepared for slow upload times – remember, there is a horde of FEASTers all trying to post to InstaTwitBook at the same time.
7. Talk to the Chefs.
Last year, one of the biggest fears I had about attending FEAST as a blogger for the first time was talking with the chefs. I mean, I need to talk with them to do my job, but they have stuff to do, right? Maybe even important stuff. (I may have a little social anxiety.) Last year, just thinking about striking up a conversation with someone like Chef David Gaus (who is, by the way, an amazingly friendly, super-normal human) made my stomach buzz. (I don’t get butterflies – I get bees.) But then I remembered reading something in one of my art-maker Facebook groups about our artistic heroes and icons, and how we are all just trying to share our inspiration and creativity with others, and how there is absolutely no reason to be nervous about talking with them. Think about it – does it annoy or offend you if someone asks you about something you are passionate about? Of course not. Chefs are just Food Artists, and in my experience, if you ask, they will cheerfully talk about what they love. All. Day. Long. 😉
8. Talk to Strangers.
This isn’t unique advice: if you search “Tips for FEAST Portland,” this is the one suggestion you will see over and over. Talk to strangers. I wholeheartedly agree.
For some of us though, casual conversation isn’t as easy as it sounds. So that’s who the next two paragraphs are for: the “I’s” in the Myers-Briggs assessment. The Introverts. Or those who teeter between I and E, like me. The Ambiverts. The Omniverts. Whatever you want to call us.*
Talking with people (like the aforementioned Chefs) about what drives them is one thing; small-talking with strangers is quite a different proposal altogether, and one in which I fall egregiously short. However, FEAST presents an awesome opportunity to those of us who eschew gratuitous pleasantries, because it inherently gives rise to substantive topics. At FEAST, you can talk with people about everything from the ethnic flavor profile of your favorite festival bite to what the individual’s role should be in addressing hunger in our local and greater communities. At FEAST, if you want to start up a conversation, all you have to do it smile and say hello. 🙂
Speaking of smiling and saying hello, I recently read an article about how people from some cultures are somewhat put off by friendly, smiling Americans. If that’s the case, then they are in for a real shock if they visit Oregon, because let’s face it – we are super-friendly. If you grew up in the Pacific Northwest, making eye contact and saying hello to strangers on the street usually comes as naturally as spending an extra five seconds at a four-way stop trying to decide who’s more polite. (“You go.” “No, you go.”) But honestly, aren’t we all just looking for a friendly face in the crowd? Be that person at FEAST, and it will pay off big.
*Note to those who identify as introvert, ambivert, or omnivert: plan for some quiet down-time as soon as possible after FEAST events. You will have a great time, but after being around so many people and so much sensory input, you may need some time to decompress.
9. Buy Your Tickets EARLY!
Admittedly, this is better advice for next year than this one. Each year, tickets to many FEAST events sell out in just a few days. (I personally know people who sit with their fingers hovering to order tickets the minute the FEAST schedule is released each year.) However, if you missed the boat for 2017, all is not lost: there is still time to get tickets to several events, including:
- The Package – For those ready to eat ALL the things, The Package includes all five Feast Portland main events. (This is currently the only way to get tickets to this year’s Smoked, Night Market, Brunch Village, and Saturday Grand Tasting events.)
- Friday Grand Tasting
Drink Tank Events
- Quenching America’s New Thirst: Beaujolais
- Pilsners: So Fresh & Clean
- Kilts Not Required: American Single Malts
- Punch Power: Drinks for a Crowd
10. Finally, Remember why we FEAST.
As you may know, in addition to being a writer, I am a teacher; and as a teacher, I see childhood hunger on a daily basis. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that, in a place in the world where we enjoy such bounty, even abundance, there are children who will go to bed hungry. Tonight. Whose only meals today will come on divided plastic lunch trays. There are parents who worry how (or if) they will feed their children today. It is heartbreaking (and honestly infuriating) that children are hungry when we have so much.
So, while FEAST Portland is an amazing food and drink festival that celebrates all things awesome in the Pacific Northwest, it’s also an organization with a heartfelt humanitarian mission. Since inception, FEAST has raised over $300,000 to help end childhood hunger in Oregon and across the country. This year, FEAST Portland is proud to once again support the efforts of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. Together with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, it is the aim of FEAST to end hunger before it begins.
Disclosure: I was granted a Blogger Pass for FEAST Portland 2017 and asked to help promote the event. All opinions, and images (except as noted) are my own. This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running – and (relatively) ad-free!! Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you.