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Bite of Skagit: Local eating for a good cause

Jul 13th, 2010 | Category: Community, Events, Food

by Jessica Harbert

This year the Bite of Skagit has already doubled in size compared to last year’s event. With 10 vendors participating, the second annual fundraising event is helping bring more visibility to the abundance of local farmers and food available in the area.
“We want everyone to enjoy (it),” Susan Lanahan, the Bite of Skagit Coordinator said. “There is nothing better than raising money for a fantastic cause and have a fantastic time while doing it.”
Skagit County is home to 13 local food banks and five hot meal programs, all managed under the Food Distribution Center in Mt. Vernon. All of these resources are a part of the Skagit Food Share Alliance, a partnership between the Skagit County Community Action Agency, North Coast Credit Union and Skagit Valley Food Co Op.
The ultimate goal of the fundraiser is to help support local agriculture, while providing some fresh and nutritional options for the Skagit food bank patrons and helping with new methods of preparing the local products, Lanahan said.
Each and every one of last year’s vendors is returning to participate in the Bite this year held on Saturday, July 31, including Train Wreck Bar & Grill, winners of last year’s Bite. Each vendor will prepare a small “bite” for attendees to taste and then vote on their favorite.
Also returning to participate this year is the Farmhouse Restaurant, located seven miles between Mt. Vernon, Burlington and Anacortes. The Farmhouse owner Terry Brazas said he is excited about the restaurant’s return participation in the Bite.
“We buy local products and use local products,” Brazas said. “(It is a) fun way to get our name out in the public, realize we are supporting it and being visible in the community with our support and at the same time be able to serve snippets of what we are able to serve here at the Farmhouse.”
Growing up in Mt. Vernon, Brazas said he enjoys being involved in the event because it supports the old downtown Mt. Vernon and the people of that community.
Skagit resident Graham Kerr will showcase cooking methods and recipes with local ingredients in the Cooking Corner. Kerr, who is an internationally recognized culinary personality, will work to educate about living a healthier lifestyle by showing Bite goers how to incorporate fresh, local and seasonal ingredients into everyday cooking.
Along with double the food vendors, this year’s Bite features an expanded outdoor beer and wine garden with three local breweries and a local winery. Look for beer from Skagit River Brewery, located minutes from the Bite in downtown Mount Vernon, along with Flyers Brewery from Oak Harbor and Lazy Boy Brewery out of Seattle, as well as wine from Challenger Ridge Winery, located in Concrete.
Another first for the Bite is creating a more solid connection between the local Latino community with participation of Taqueria El Milagro, a Mt. Vernon taco truck.
“We are trying to bridge the gaps in the Latino community,” Lanahan said. “And incorporate the Latino community to be able to use the resources. Because of the language barrier, it is often a barrier for many things. There are people who are working very diligently to help bridge that gap.”
The hope is with the communities coming together to enjoy this event it will bring more involvement in the future within the Skagit Food Share Alliance and the community resources available.
The Bite is ultimately designed to bring the community together for a day of fun and food, while driving home the importance of everyone’s piece in sustaining local businesses.
“The main message is to support the local businesses, including downtown Mt. Vernon, local restaurants, particularly those that use local products then you are supporting local farmers as well,” Brazas said. “It is a good time to remind everyone to do that because of the challenges the farmers have faced this season. It is a little economic world of our own. Our nation has its problems but here in Skagit Valley, we can support that as well.”

EVENT DETAILS

The Bite of Skagit takes place noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 31 in downtown Mount Vernon, at Gates Street, between 1st and 2nd. Admission is free, and tickets are $1 each, with bites ranging from 2-5 tickets. Vendors are: Anderson’s General Store & Café, Costco, The Farmhouse Restaurant, Mike and Jean’s Berry Farm, Skagit Bistro / Skagit Valley Hospital, Skagit Valley Food Co-op Deli, Taqueria El Milagro, The Soup Bowl, Train Wreck Bar & Grill and Trumpeter Public House.  A Cooking Corner will be hosted by Graham Kerr, and live music will be performed by Marcia Kester, Homegrown Tomatoes, and Chris and Mary Brown. Donations of non-perishable food accepted for area food banks. For more information, visit www.biteofskagit.org.

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