The Sandpoint Eater: Celebrating song with food

By Marcia Pilgeram
Reader Food Columnist

Come Festival week, there’s just no place like home. And there is no one better than our own hometown talent, Bridges Home, to kick off tonight’s festivities by opening for Grammy Award-winner Bruce Hornsby. We all have our own ideas about how to savor these amazing evenings. My friend and devoted Festival fan, Dee Ann Smith, plans to sip some POW Malbec during tonight’s performance. Whether you plan to pair your wine with music or food, you can fill your bellies and ears with an eclectic collection of both. And let’s not forget beer—for an extra ten bucks you can show up early this evening for the microbrew tasting, which includes a commemorative pilsner glass.

Look for new kids on the Festival Street block, including a couple of innovative collaborations. Wildwood Grilling and the Festival at Sandpoint have partnered for this year’s Festival, and Wildwood Grilling will be participating not only as a food vendor on Festival Street but also a first-time financial sponsor to the Festival.

“The Festival at Sandpoint is grateful for the significant support of Wildwood Grilling,” said Festival executive director Dyno Wahl. “Our newest community partner has been a committed local employer manufacturing and distributing grilling planks nationwide for the past 25 years. Pick up your commemorative Festival cedar Planks at our merchandise booth and check out their exciting cedar planked menu on Festival Street.”

With menu items such as cedar planked, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, cedar skewer chicken satays and cedar planked s’mores, Wildwood Grilling will be serving a variety of food items that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. All proceeds from their food booth will go directly to the Festival, which is reason enough to support the Wildwood Grilling booth.

And another collaboration on Festival Street is by no means “small potatoes.” The Angels Over Sandpoint and the culinary students from the Forrest Bird Charter School have teamed up with big ideas and really big potatoes—huge bakers. You can load them to your heart’s content with toppers such as butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, broccoli, bacon bits and chili.

The Festival at Sandpoint’s culinary offerings rival the diversity of the musical performances. Take a stroll (and your appetite) down Festival Street for a huge variety of local palate pleasers. And keep in mind that you are also supporting many community nonprofit organizations and local, small businesses. Now you can feel good (and thank me later) about that big ice cream sundae served up by the Panida.

You’ll find plenty of your favorite Festival Street residents as well as some newbies. They’ll all be happy to greet you and feed you. Here’s the mouthwatering line-up:

Angels Over Sandpoint / Forest Bird Charter School: Loaded Potatoes with Butter, Sour Cream, Chives, Cheese, Broccoli, Bacon Bits and Chili.

Arlo’s Ristorante: Three-Cheese Baked Ziti, Grilled Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions, Chicken Cacciatore Sandwich, Cold Tortelini Salad with Roasted Bell Pepper Dressing, Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, Cannoli.

Bab’s Pizzeria: Meat and Veggie Stromboli, Meat or Veggie Focaccia Sandwich, Garlic Knots, Greek or Antipasta Salad, Pretzels, New York Cheesecake with Cherry Topping, Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake or Chocolate Filled Cake.

Bulldog Band Boosters’ Pizza: Papa Murphy’s Pizza by the Slice, Assorted Salads, Cheesy Bread, Cookies.

Eichardt’s Pub: Pulled Pork or Black Bean Tostadas, Chocolate Dessert.

Evans Brothers Coffee: Hot & Cold Gourmet Coffee Drinks, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Chai, Water, Cookies.

Independence Ski Team: Veggie or Seasoned Beef Nachos, Gourmet Beef or Black Bean/Veggie Burgers with an abundance of Toppings, Polish Dogs, Hot Dogs, Mexi-Dogs, Cowboy Cookies

Joe’s Philly Cheesesteak: Steak or Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich w/choice of Cheeses & Veggies, Meatball Hoagie, Sloppy Joes, Chips, Gluten Free Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake with Toppings.

Jupiter Jane’s: JJ’s Rockin’ Tacos: Chicken, Black Bean, Cabbage & Cheese Topped with Chipotle Cream Sauce & Mango Salsa Cosmic Fish Tacos, Steak Tacos, Kale Slaw with Wasabi Cucumber Dressing & Mango Salsa, The Urban Hippie: Black Beans, Kale Slaw, Shredded Cheese, Jalapenos, Basil Cream Sauce & Corn Salsa, Peach Cobbler with Whiskey Cream Sauce.

May’s Catering: Thai Cuisine—Assorted Thai Entrees with White or Brown Rice: Red or Yellow Curry, Stir Fry, Cashew Chicken, Pad Thai, Chow Mein, Basil Beef, Garlic Pork, Sweet Sticky Rice w/Fruit.

North Idaho Fish & Chips: Fish & Chips, Chicken Strips & Chips, Prawns & Chips, Corn Dogs & Chips, Fries, Garlic Bleu Cheese Fries, Poutine, Fried Huckleberry Ice Cream.

Panida Theater: Ice Cream Sundaes, Ice Cream Cones, Pie a l Mode & Brownies. Try the “Standing Ovation” Brownie Sundae!

Wildwood Grilling: Cedar Planked Wild Alaskan Salmon, Chicken Satay with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Alder Wrapped Grilled Veggies, Smoked Corn on the Cob, Warm Planked Peaches with Wildwood Amaretto and Alder Ice Cream, Planked S’mores, Local Shingle Mill Blueberries. Remember that all proceeds from Wildwood Grilling go directly to Festival Over Sandpoint.

One thing that sets the Festival at Sandpoint apart from other music festivals is the full service bars and down-to-earth prices. For your favorite libation, visit their friendly watering holes: Conlan’s at The Festival or the Lakeside Lounge. Don’t forget: Last call is 10 p.m.!

There’s so much talent in this beautiful little village of ours, and we’ll see some of them keeping it all in the family this week. Bridges Homes, the talented trio of David, Tammy and Paul Gunter, will provide an opening act, as well as local vocal favorite Sadie Waggoner accompanied by her father Michael Wagoner and mother, Nashville singer-songwriter Tammy Davis.

Our own homegrown diva and soprano, (and wedding singer extraordinaire) Hailey Fuqua, will perform with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra for the final performance. Conducted by Maestro Gary Sheldon, another talented Sandpoint native, Jason Moody, will play violin. From this evening’s “Taste of the Stars” Wine Tasting (the largest wine event of its kind in the state of Idaho), to the grand fireworks finale, this performance leaves us longing for just one more evening of music and magic. And so begins another year of Festival anticipation.

Bravo to all who support the festival by attending the spring auction, purchasing season tickets, or showing up night after night, year after year, rain or shine, to support the most important cultural and culinary event that Sandpoint has to offer.

And bravo to Dyno Wahl and the Festival board for keeping this event real, sustainable and affordable, by providing patrons with so many options, such as allowing outside food and beverages. Let’s show our support by showing up, spreading our blankets and sharing some Festival love.

You might even pack an extra picnic portion and share that too. My basket will be stocked with lots of wine and some great appetizers, some prepared on Wildwood Grilling planks and wraps. Check out Wildwood Grilling planks at the Festival. Take some home, and give these picnic recipes a try.

Bon Appétit.

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