The 2013 Good Food Festival & Conference was our best ever!

The 2013 Good Food Festival and Conference – Chicago was a huge success. With three days of fantastic programming culminating in the Saturday Festival, the 9th annual Good Food Festival and Conference was the place to be!

For any of you who missed parts of the weekend, or anyone who was a little overwhelmed by all of the awesome things going on, we’ve put together a little recap.  Still can’t believe all of these people and all of these wonderful events were packed into one place. If the 9th Annual was this awesome, we’d better start preparing to make the 10th Anniversary, in March 2014, even better!

Click the link below to see photos, and a full recap of Good Food Festival & Conference events.

Photos: Amanda Areias (give me flour) and Kaitlyn McQuaid

The Thursday Good Food Financing Conference kicked off the event with some of the biggest Illinois stakeholders tackling the issues of funding for small food and farm businesses. We heard from crowdfunding experts Jenny Kassan of Cutting Edge Capital and Benjamin Lee of CircleUp, as well as crowdfunding success stories from Bob Borchardt of Harvest Moon Farms, Seth Kravitz of Bow Truss Coffee, Kevin Cary of Begyle Brewing, and Lee Greene of the Scrumptious Pantry.  These inspiring panelists were just part of a day packed with learning and networking for food and farm entrepreneurs.

Financing Fair participants Big Jones Restaurant, Century Sun Oil, Fewzion: Food Energy Water Zone of Innovation, Fox Valley Winery, Range Inc./Range Meat Academy, Red Meat Market, and The Sugar Beet, presented their business plans and inspired everyone with their range of innovative ideas.  Best of luck to all of them and to the rest of the Financing Fair businesses!

The Trade Day on Friday was also a huge success!  Co-Sponsored by the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition, the day started off with a bang at the opening symposium.  Radical Root Farm received the first ever Beginning Farmer of the Year Award from the Angelic Organics Learning Center and the Upper Midwest CRAFT. named Goodness Greeness the Good Food Business of Year.  Congratulations to Alex Needham and Alison Parker of Radical Root, and to Bob Scaman and the rest of the team at Goodness Greeness!

The biggest announcements at the opening symposium came from McCormick Place, Chicago Public Schools, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, and Midway Airport.  All four committed to big local food commitments in partnership with!  Together these companies serve over 1.5 million meals every day. This is a huge step forward for Good Food in Chicago and beyond!

The trade show floor was packed all afternoon, and exciting workshops on moving Good Food businesses forward, Urban Food Policy, and getting Good Food into schools connected stakeholders from across the Midwest.  The afternoon was capped off by Meet the Buyers, where small businesses connected to local and national buyers, and a screening of the new documentary Food Patriots.

Friday night at the Localicious Party over 500 people tasted food and drinks from 40 local restaurants and producers, while dancing to the sounds of fantastic bluegrass trio Sunnyside Up.  What a great time!

The Saturday Good Food Festival was a jam packed celebration of Good Food!  The day started off with a fantastic workshop from fermentation revivalist and author of The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz, as well as a tour of four of Chicago’s cutting edge urban farms. With 150 exhibitors, nine delicious lunch vendors, 72 packed Good Food Commons micro-sessions on everything from compost tea and urban beekeeping to sourdough starters and seed starting, over a dozen in-depth workshops, and demos from Paul Virant, Carrie Nahabedian, and Rick Bayless, the rest of the day could not have been more fun!  Congratulations again to the winner of Chicago’s first ever Kimchi Challenge, Elisabeth David of Green Zebra!

It was a fantastic three days, and we’re thrilled so many of you joined us!

We want to thank everyone that attended and supported the Good Food Festival and Conference. Without our wonderful sponsors, volunteers, and staff we simply couldn’t have produced such a high quality event.

Thank You!

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