Lowell Food & Wine Festival

Indulge in Culinary Delights for a Good Cause This September.

Lowell’s nickname is “The Mill City,” a tribute to the days in the mid-1800s when it was the country’s first large-scale factory town and in the process of earning its reputation as the “Cradle of the American Industrial Revolution.”

But the Bay State’s fourth-largest city may have to come up with a new casual moniker. After all, it has been hosting one of the country’s largest free folk festivals for nearly 30 years. The WinterFest in February has been an annual event since 2001. There’s a Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival, an African Festival and a Southeast Asian Water Festival, among others.

The Lowell Food & Wine Festival was added to the list last year, and it’ll be back for its first encore Sept. 11-13 at various locations downtown.

Maybe it’s time to start calling Lowell “The Festival City.”

There are two very unique aspects to the upcoming Lowell Food & Wine Festival. Festivals like these often are staged by groups or organizations bent on profit first and headed by folks who think Amarone is a hero in a Harry Potter book.

The Lowell Food & Wine Festival is being staged by the nonprofit Made in Lowell, and though the organization hopes to make some money with the event, even a quick glance at its website, MadeInLowell.org, provides easy evidence of its main purpose. “Our amazing events cultivate community and foster community engagement,” the website reads in part. Made in Lowell is on a mission to bring “people together to achieve lasting social change… In short, Made in Lowell creates a deeper, more connected, and inspired community.”

So, while the festival, sponsored in part by mvm, is expected to raise funds for Made in Lowell, the overall purpose is to add more color, excitement and vibrancy to the Mill … er … Festival City. The driving force behind the event is Made in Lowell’s CEO/founder, Tobias Marx. He has lived in the city for nearly seven years and brings a proselyte’s zeal to all things Lowell. Marx says that for most of his adult life, he had never stayed anywhere for more than a year, a constant family road trip that included stints in Europe, California and Africa. “This is a beautiful city,” he says, “and it’s time for ‘new’ and ‘old’ Lowell to step up and have one vision together.”

Marx is savvy enough to know that few things unite people as well as sharing good food and good beverages. How does he know this? Because he has worked as a chef in one- and two-star Michelin restaurants in both Europe and the United States. So he knows his way around a kitchen … and a wine cellar … and a bar. A seasoned (pun intended) foodie heading a food and wine fest? What a concept!

That’s why people should expect good things for the festival’s second time around.

Details will likely be unfolding clear up to the week of the actual bash, but Marx hopes to stage 15 to 18 events over the course of three-plus days. The “plus” refers to an opening wine dinner and reception intended for Thursday night. The big fun kicks in on Sept. 11, and the highlights — all staged in downtown Lowell — will include:

Food Truck Madness ($5): Friday, Sept. 11, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Nearly a dozen food trucks will be corralled in downtown Lowell to provide an array of samplings. Craft beer, wine and smart nonalcoholic beverages also will be available.

The Grand Tasting ($25): Saturday, Sept. 12, noon to 6 p.m. Expect some downtown Lowell streets to be open only to pedestrian traffic, as they will be home to upwards of 70 vendors offering a wild variety of food, beer and wine

Sips & Sweets ($10): Saturday, Sept. 12, 9 p.m. to midnight. Three words: desserts and Champagne. Do we really need more words than that?

Pop-up Tacos and Tequilas night: Saturday, Sept. 12, 9:30 to 11 p.m. Expect other south-of-the-border goodies, too, and  disc jockeys will be pumping out party music.

Other anticipated events include a Sunday chili cookout family party and farm-to-table wine dinners. More information, standard tickets, and VIP and weekend passes are available at TLFWF.org/tickets.html

Marx says one of Made in Lowell’s goals is to “establish the new without alienating the old.” Is there a better blueprint for that plan than an all-inclusive downtown food and wine party? “Lowell is a city known for its festivals,” says Deb Belanger, executive director of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, “and hosting the annual Lowell Food & Wine Festival offers visitors and locals alike the opportunity to indulge in some of the best culinary delights from the Greater Merrimack Valley.”

Hmmm… . “Indulge,” she said.

None other than Oscar Wilde once counseled, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” The second annual Lowell Food & Wine Festival is shaping up to be a good place to heed his advice.

The Lowell Food & Wine Festival
Sept. 11-13



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