Slow Food Nations is Returning to Denver for Another Huge Food Festival

Calling all omnivores.

Slow Food Nations is officially bringing back its massive three-day festival to the Mile High City. The annual event — that focuses on all things food with an emphasis on sustainability and education — has July 13 to 15 locked down for its second year. Taking place downtown, the event will be largely recognizable to those who attended last summer with a few updates.

What’s Returning

Like 2017, Slow Food will return with a mix of free and ticketed events. Of those free events, you can expect the free Taste Market. This is where you can sample items from tons of Colorado vendors at no cost. Last year, it was like a free cheese sample heaven and we highly recommend checking it out. It is a perfect low-level introduction to what Slow Food is all about — connecting people with local purveyors and well-sourced food. “A big part of this festival is [that] it’s accessible. Everyone should be able to be there. We are all part of this conversation,” said Krista Roberts director of Slow Food Denver.

If you’re looking to get a bit more involved, there are plenty of seminars and educational events where you can learn about the overarching issues that affect our food systems down to the most niche topics you can dream of. Last year, we found these educational tracks the most impactful and we learned a lot.

Also similar to last year, the event will bring big names to Denver. This year expect to see Massimo Bottura, the Italian chef who is known for his appearance on Netflix’s Chef’s Table; celebrity chef Rick Bayless who is famous for his Mexican cuisine and Iron Chef appearances; Alon Shaya, the New Orleans-based Israeli chef and past winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef – South (he’s also opening a restaurant in Denver) among many others. Their exact participations and events are still to be announced.

Other signature events will also return, like the Zero Waste Family Meal, which challenges participating chef to make a delicious family meal from what would be wasted during a massive festival. “Festivals generate a lot of waste,” said Roberts. “So it’s about how do we tell that story and prevent that from happening.”

In addition, Slow Food will continue to be family friendly and will offer many hands-on workshops and tours so people can learn directly from expert chefs and craftsmen and women.

What’s New

After some feedback that Slow Food Nations was a bit hard to navigate, the event is fine-tuning its approach. This means most of the event will happen near or at Larimer Square instead of spread across the city. “We want to maintain all the buzz and the energy of the festival right in the heart of downtown,” said Roberts. Also, seminars will be offered in a series of tracks so deciding your schedule is less of a headache. In the same vein, there will be a Leader Summit this year in order to create a more centralized discussion around the future of food. 

“We’re organizing it around four summits so it ties into the ideas around the ‘Food for Change’ theme,” said Roberts. “So you’ll see things like Farming for the Future, that will really look at gender, agriculture and the future of farming. Waste-Not, Want-Not which is going to dive deeper into food waste. We’ll have The Buzz about bio-diversity, which is really looking at the variety that exists and why it is important, especially through the lens of seeds and bees and grains.”

Slow Food Nations is set for July 13 to 15 at Larimer Square. Tickets for individual events have still yet to be released but you can purchase your leader summit ticket starting at $250 here. Whether or not you plan on going all out on ticketed events, it’s highly recommended you mark your calendars for the upcoming festival. If anything you’ll meet local food producers while sampling all the free cheese your heart desires.

All photography by Brittany Werges. 

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