The first Kids Festival attracted more than 1,100 visitors to the Davidson Farmers Market for fun, family activities.
Music by Brandon Berg and Emerson Carter, 9, also known as Branderson, filled the air as children lined up to have their faces painted on July 2.
“The kids festival is made up of several different events,” Abby Wyatt, market manager for Davidson Farmers Market, said. “All to kind of promote getting kids involved in what they eat, where their food comes from and getting them to the market and doing it together as a family.”
Community School of Davidson student Elias Gianopoulos, 14, brought his aquaponic system, which included mint and rosemary plants suspended in water that contained live goldfish, to teach the children about alternative methods of growing.
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The weird, wild and wonderful produce table enticed visitors to use their imaginations to see common shapes in twisted and uniquely formed plant foods, but the biggest crowd was waiting for the Kids Chopped Competition, which is expected to become an annual event at the market.
Similar to the popular television show, Chopped, three local chefs – Summit Coffee’s Courtney Spear, Fork! restaurant’s Michael Spencer and Davidson Cornelius Child Development Center’s Betsy Verhey – mentored three teams of children as they created dishes for judging.
Each team received a basket with items found at the market, including basil, blueberries, bread, buffalo milk cheese, corn, cucumber, micro greens, onions, peaches, squash and tomatoes. Once the teams opened their baskets, revealing what ingredients would be available, they were allowed10 minutes to brainstorm their recipes and 30 minutes to implement their ideas to present for judging.
As the contest was set to begin, Chef Verhey team’s Julian Vitenson, 11, shouted, “Are you guys ready to be annihilated?” When a few in the crowd called him on his attitude he responded, “It’s all part of the show,” with a smile.
The chefs began slicing, squeezing, chopping and tearing their ingredients from the raw materials provided in order to make a masterpiece. Davidson residents Ella Hicks, 11, and Isabella Linsenmayer, 10, were making a dressing from apple cider, blueberries and peach juice.
The girls grabbed at the peach, passing it back and forth as they tried to squeeze the juice from the fruit, probably getting as much juice on the table as they were in the cup. They were on chef Spencer’s team, which named their dish Freedom Salad and took the team name Freedom.
The judges included Wyatt; Davidson Mayor John Woods with his wife, Diana Woods; and Justin Burke-Samson, a pastry chef with Kindred in Davidson who has been on the television cooking shows Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay.
Cornelius resident Beatrix Davis, 7, the youngest of the contestants, presented chef Spear team’s dish, Summer Crostini, to the judges. Beatrix was excited when their dish won, “I was not thinking my team would win. It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said.
Beatrix along with her winning teammates; Austin Revere, 11, Benjamin Vitenson, 13 and Joey Vogel, 10, each received a $25 gift certificate to Fork! and a three-month subscription to Raddish Kids, a monthly cooking club that challenges children with recipes and activities delivered by mail.
After the excitement of the competition, the children wound down with yoga and then a free ice cream sundae. Farm to Home Milk provided the ice cream with market vendors supplying peaches, jams, mint, basil and nut butters, “For a somewhat healthier sundae,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt said the festival was a success and that she hopes to have more kid friendly events in the future. “This was my first year as market manager and my first year putting on the festival, people are already talking about next year,” she said.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
The next special event at the market will be the seventh Annual Salsa Showdown, open to adult teams, on July 30. Details for entry will be posted on the market’s web page at www.davidsonfarmersmarket.org and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DavidsonFarmersMarket/.
The Davidson Farmers Market is open 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays through November, and on a reduced schedule during the winter.