The sizzle of Jamaican jerk chicken on the grill, ready to mix with some rice, competing with the aroma of Italian sausage roasting next to a bubbling pot of meatballs might immediately bring to mind the excitement of fall festivals.
Sure enough, St. Eugene’s Catholic Church is back with their International Food Festival on Sept. 19, ready to woo crowds with exotic and homemade dishes to the beat of a variety of entertainers.
Of course, like every year, there will be an All-American booth for the more timid eaters, offering pizza, hot dogs, and good Southern barbecue.
But for the brave, 14 booths will provide $2-3 plate samples of their country’s finest.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“Last year, I think I hit every booth,” admitted Chris Allardice, who attends St. Eugene’s and is volunteering this year to coordinate the food booths for the event.
Booths are returning from previous years, including foods representing Italy, Germany, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Ireland, Honduran, Cajun, Mexico, Jamaica, Poland, Ecuador and the Philippines.
Of course, desserts are a whole separate affair.
This year, Nicaragua joins the scene with a unique menu item: homemade, traditional juice beverages.
With a feast for the senses, the festival brings the town together as well, as 3,000 people annually visit J. Ashley Wall Towne Square downtown from Wendell and the surrounding area.
“I just moved down here three years ago from Massachusetts,” Allardice said. “I remember going to all these old church festivals and fundraisers and this reminded me of those when I was a kid.”
He added that with the children’s activities – such as a rock wall and face-painting – and volunteer organizations like the Boy Scouts working the festival, the small town warmth is strong.
“There’s no alcohol, it’s just very Main Street USA and old-fashioned, wholesome style,” he said.
Entertainment will include traditional ethnic dances and music from Southern Rock and bluegrass bands among others. Games, an auction and a raffle will be held including a $3,000 cash prize.
To sponsor or volunteer, visit http://thefoodfestival.weebly.com/.
Save the Date
When: Sept. 19, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: J. Ashley Towne Square, Wendell
More information: http://thefoodfestival.weebly.com/