Shalom Y’all – Jewish Food Festival

As you may have gathered from last week’s post and my Facebook offerings, festival season has arrived in the Lowcountry. The weather has been absolutely amazing and October and November tend to be covered up with fun outdoor gatherings all over the place. A couple of weeks ago, we gorged ourselves at the Bluffton Art & Seafood Festival on all manner of seafood and shellfish (and I’m pretty sure there was some tasso ham in those shrimp and grits), none of which was remotely in line with the rules of kashrut (a/k/a so NOT kosher). So since we did that last week, this week we atoned for those (tasty and delicious) sins by attending the Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival at Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia.

Although the food there may not be strictly kosher (some is kosher, some is simply “kosher style”), it definitely gets our little family in touch with our Jewish roots. We were even talking about it in the days leading up to the festival and what we’d be eating when we got there. The Boy has been talking about the blintzes for a year so that was high on his list along with a Hebrew National hot dog and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. I planned on getting my OWN blintzes. We made the mistake last year of getting several things to share and, although I’m typically a big advocate of that at festivals, a blintz should just never, ever, ever be shared. Blintzes are best eaten alone, huddled in a corner, hunched over your plate ready to get stabby with anyone who dares approach with a fork. But I digress. I also planned on latkes or noodle kugel and maybe a deli sandwich with a He’Brew beer.

Blintzes with strawberry jam or sour cream; Bubba and John doing it right!
Blintzes with strawberry jam or sour cream; Bubba and John doing it right!

My in-laws (The Ps), who are not Jewish, have come to look forward to this festival as much as we have and were mighty happy that I was able to get some advance tickets as a member of Congregation Mickve Israel. Prepaid tickets mean they didn’t have to wait in line quite as long before diving right in. And cancellation of some friends meant we had a LOT more food tickets to spend. Among our little group, we noshed on latkes, deli sandwiches, Israeli fries, stuffed cabbage and blintzes (of course). The boy filled up quickly on everything else and didn’t even have room for a hot dog. And we really wanted to try the noodle kugel and chopped liver but there just wasn’t room. Oy! Full and happy tummies for everyone. And The Ps even went home with a couple of loaves of challah.

The tables that are placed around the famous fountain in beautiful Forsyth Park tend to fill up quickly so we’ve learned to pack a picnic blanket and set up in the shade of the live oaks nearby. We’re close enough to see and hear the blowing of the shofars that kick off the festival each year and to hear the crazy klezmer music (although I missed that this year!) coming from the main stage, but we are comfy in the shade stuffing our faces with tasty Jewish goodness.

Stuffed cabbage, Israeli fries, corned beef on rye, He'Brew beer (Lenny's RIPA), first bite of latkes, pastrami on rye.
Clockwise from top: stuffed cabbage, Israeli fries, corned beef on rye, He’Brew beer (Lenny’s RIPA), first bite of latkes (I like apple sauce AND sour cream, thank you very much), pastrami on rye.

Hosted for the last 27 years by Congregation Mickve Israel, the Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival has become a destination event in the city of Savannah, Georgia. What started as a small fundraiser in Monterrey Square just in front of the synagogue has grown into a massive festival that takes over about half of the ginormous Forsyth Park just a block away. I’m not exaggerating when I say that about 10,000 people attend this event on the last Sunday of October each year. Sometimes the lines can get a little long but, with an all volunteer staff of members, you are rewarded for your wait with a plate of yummy Jewish food and heaping helping of Southern hospitality.

As with most festivals, you can always do a little shopping as well. You could also buy gifts, t-shirts, Judaica (I broke my seder plate last year so looked for a new one this year), and jewelry at the Sisterhood Baubles booth. The Boy saw a Baaaa Mitzvah squeeky dog toy that he couldn’t resist for Carolina Brown Dog.

All of the volunteers work hard but have lots of fun!
All of the volunteers work hard but have lots of fun!

Needless to say, a good time was had by all. If you plan a trip down to the Lowcountry in coming years, consider visiting the Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival in Savannah when making your plans. You won’t regret it!

How does one choose?
How does one choose?
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