POPCORN FEST 2017:
Since 1979, Valparaiso Indiana has hosted an annual popcorn event in the heart of our little town. Why Popcorn? It’s because this is where Orville Redenbacher started his empire. Born in Brazil Indiana, he and a friend, Charlie Bowman created a hybrid popcorn that tastes much like the Orville Redenbacher popcorn that we have today. He also built his iconic look for his brand and became the face of the company. In 2012, our town hired artist Lou Cella to create the bronze statue (shown above). The statue can be seen driving through the heart of downtown on Lincolnway.
Every year we celebrate this legend by having a popcorn parade, running in the 5k popcorn panic, eating at the roughly 30 food vendors, listening to bands and enjoying libations. All thanks to our amazing Valparaiso Events office and Valparaiso Parks office and their oh-so-hard working staff. Others choose to celebrate in their own and creative way like this cute little Orville (shown above) sitting next to Orville’s statue. Adorbs!!!!
Personally, I love going to the festival because no matter what, I know I’m going to run into friends I haven’t seen in a very long time. Except these ladies (shown above), I see them all the time. Although, I do have to say it was nice to have a day for all of us to just hang. My poor friend Monica was so tired from carrying this baby in her belly all day but was a real trooper. Another inevitability, is that no matter how cold it is leading up to the fest in September, it is always blazing hot out for the day of the fest. I can remember being in the marching band during the popcorn parade while I was in high school (yes, I was a band geek), having to wear our uniforms just sweating and watching out for bees. So, this festival and I go way back. 🙂
Any-who, you can always count on running into old friends and catching up. Now, let’s get to talking about the food, this is a food-blog by the way, right? Every year without hesitation, I know who I’m going to first. The taco lady. We have never met personally, and I’m not even sure that there is one lady that makes the taco’s. It looks like it is truly more of a group effort but, every year, this booth (shown below) is the first one I go to. There are always ladies there smiling and ready to give me my favorite tacos for the day.
Why are they my favorite you ask? It is because it hits all of my favorite things in one dish. First, the taco is simple, there are not a lot of ingredients needed to go on top. Secondly, the meat has ALL the flavor. This is a pork taco that has been marinating in juices and flavor which I’m assuming has been slow roasted because of how tender the meat is. Sooooo good. If it’s not too busy, I also enjoy eating near the booth and watching the ladies laugh and have a good time while they serve the masses. The last reason I love this taco stand is because, I get to eat good food and know that my money is going to a church. There is no better feeling than eating some delicious tacos and knowing that your money is going to a worthy cause.
On to the next place. I knew I wanted BBQ and walked passed a few BBQ vendors before deciding on Smokey G’s BBQ. A few things caught my eye, first, they had an extremely long line. By the time I got to them, they had run out of cooked ribs (which is what I wanted). So, I had to come back when they had a new slab cooked. Honestly, this caused me to get even a little more excited to try them.
The next thing I really liked was how jovial they all were, making jokes back and forth and were really personable. The last thing that caught my eye was the smoker they had (shown below), this thing was monstrous! and beautiful, I was so excited.
When I came back, I didn’t even have to wait, they already had the ribs ready to go.
First of all, I love going to festivals like these because you get to try a bunch of different foods from the area for an inexpensive price. I know I’ve said this before in my Taste of Chicago Post, but it’s true and every once in a while you get a place that gives you a massive portion for your money and that makes me happy too!
Photo credit (above): Mike Wszolek
Look how amazing those ribs look! Oh, my goodness, sometimes I forget that I have to take pictures and just want to dive right into the food. Luckily, I had a good friend and my husband with me to remind me that I needed photos. 🙂
One good thing about the sun being so bright that day was the shine it put on these ribs (shown above)! So good! I finally found a BBQ that was juicy, tender and so flavorful.
Funny story about these guys, so after popcorn fest, I tried searching for Smokey G’s BBQ. I wanted the hubs and I to go there, (FYI-Ribs are my husband’s favorite food!) and could not find an online presence of them anywhere. Then after I edited these photos, I just decided to call the number on their sign and see what’s up.
I was able to talk to the owner of Smokey G’s BBQ catering company. He told me that he still has the catering business but just recently partnered with someone to open 3rd Degree Burn BBQ out of Michigan City and that it had just opened in April. Much like before, the owner came across very personable and wanted to know how my experience was with the food and what I had tried. He made sure to tell me that I needed to come to the restaurant because he truly prides himself in his brisket most of all. How could I turn that down, I lovvvee brisket.
I truly have the best job in the world, where I can meet and talk to people about their passions and you could tell that this man was passionate about his cooking. I will definitely be checking out the restaurant.
Luckily, I had some people with me to help me share some of this food, because I was starting to get full. I wanted to try at least one more place before we caught the headlining band on the main stage. I came across The Remade Kitchen trailer, and here again, as I walked past I noticed there was a large line. Their slogan also caught my eye which said, “Traditional Food You Love…Remade”. Ooooooo, I thought, what is this all about. So, after I looked at the menu I saw they had a Philly cheese steak sandwich. Yes please! When I received my order, I saw that it was indeed a philly cheesesteak-grilled cheese! Oh my gosh you guys, this was heaven in my mouth. Such good comfort food with a twist. Delish!
Photo Credit(above): Mike Wszolek
In the picture above, you can see the tender and juicy shredded steak with bell peppers and glorious cheese. I want this now! I will have to re-create this in my house. It was really good. If you would like to try more of their food, I know that they have a Facebook page, a food truck and do catering and events. You should check them out.
Now that I was nice and full, I was ready to listen to some music and partake in some good libations. My husband and I met up with a few more friends that had not eaten yet and we lucked out that Sage restaurant was offering their back patio with specials! For those of you whom have never been to Sage, it really is the perfect spot for what we were looking for. You can see the main-stage from the patio and hear the music, but you can also still hold a conversation without screaming at each other. It was perfect for a bunch of mid 30-year olds. Ha.
I knew I wanted pizza, and Sage just so happens to knock my favorite pizza out of the park. They have other great pizzas as well, but my all-time favorite pizza is a Margherita pizza. Like I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, simple ingredients that pack a ton of flavor really hit the spot and this pizza does just that. It was perfect for what I was looking for. I also need to mention how amazing the staff was in attending to all of us. Throughout the afternoon, we changed seats, added new people, some friends left and we never felt like we were a bother to them. It was just perfect, this is why it is one of my favorite places in town. I always take people that come to visit me here because the food is really good and the wait staff is consistent, also they have carbs, delicious carbs!
Thank you for joining me in my little adventure around the town of Valparaiso. More to come I’m sure, so don’t forget to subscribe.
For those of you not from Indiana, would this intrigue you enough for a visit?
So, what was your favorite place to eat at popcorn fest?
Let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you!