Great Arizona Picnic at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival: A Recap of Yesterday, and the Food Fest Continues Today
Follow the swarms of people and parking-less streets to the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall today, for the second and final day of the Great Arizona Picnic at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.
Featuring fare from more than 50 restaurants, the first day of the 'Great Arizona Picnic' took over the park, filling every nook and cranny with food and beverage tents, ticket booths, and stages for live entertainment.
In conjunction with the picnic, the Epicurean Expo has taken over the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, exhibiting specialty and high quality kitchen utilities as well as artisanal products and chef demonstrations, if you can get a seat! A great place to cool off if you can't find shade outside, this Expo provides air conditioning, a few samples and connected beverage areas like the Tiki Hideaway and 'Mix Like a Master,' where Valley bartenders show eager visitors the basics of mixology at scheduled points throughout the day.
Thirsty picnickers can pay an additional fee for entry into the Tequila Deck, Skyy Bar ($5 each), and/or the Southwest Festival of Beers ($20--unfortunately that one was Saturday only) where drinks are poured at the end of long lines. The Festival of Beers harnessed the novelty of a tiny plastic beer mug as the sample size for the 200+ beers from various breweries from all over the country--only 1 ticket ($1) per ~3oz fill. The ticket is almost worth the sight of grown men with such tiny little cups. This area will be filled by the 'Blues and Brews' event today, which seems to have a very similar set up to the Saturday iteration, yet with a bit of blues playing on stage.
An option this year is the VIP Experience: Passport to the Picnic ($125), which provides free access to the aforementioned libation stations, as well as a free beverage of choice, and a small VIPs Only section near the biggest stage of the picnic. Within this exclusive VIP area, one can find free beers or cocktails as well as catered snacks, which are accompanied by welcomed seating and shade. This, however, is where the VIP perks end, and despite the fancy lanyard, you must still pay with the masses for any of the restaurant vendors scattered around the park.
Nina Gruber A selection of catered snacks exclusively for the VIPs
Vendors of primarily Scottsdale based restaurants, as well as a few chains, set up tents throughout the park and offer selections of their menus for a few tickets per plate (1 ticket=$1 and a long wait in the ticket line). With choices from Pita Jungle, to Cowboy Ciao, Distrito, and Jamba Juice, the festival visitor can satisfy most any craving with just a few tickets.
Nina Gruber Some of the bites sold by vendors at the event: Distrito, Sushi Roku, La Dolce Pesca