Eat, Drink and Be Local

Viva La Local Food Festival

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 6

Rillito Downs Park 4502 N. First Ave.


The food scene in Tucson is as good as it's ever been, with a growing list of locally owned restaurants and breweries and a seemingly limitless supply of vendors populating numerous farmer's markets. But never have all of those options been brought together in one place for an all-day smorgasbord of consumption that will affect your pocket only as much as you want it to. "We have been effectively kicking this idea around for a while," said Manish Shah, owner of local tea wholesaler Maya Tea and co-executive director of this weekend's inaugural Viva La Local Food Festival at Rillito Downs. "We needed to do a food festival that's more in line with people and what they want." Rather than some of the more upscale all-you-can-try food festivals that can get pretty expensive, Viva La Local has a simple price plan: all plates are $5, whether it's from Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks or Proper, while beer and wine from the likes of Borderlands Brewing Company or Wilhelm Family Vineyards cost between $5 and $10 per glass. "If you're interested in eating or drinking, we've made it affordable," Shah said. Add in just $5 to park and no admission, the only other costs would come from any purchases made from the more than 80 vendors that normally frequent the regular Saturday morning farmer's market held at St. Philip's Plaza. "Instead of the usual 60 vendors that are there on any Saturday, we've opened this up to everyone in our network," Shah said. "That alone will be a huge draw." Parking is free from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., which would allow for patrons just wishing to hit the farmer's market to shop without an added expense. But if people want to stick around for the full day—which includes several musical acts performing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkestra, Vox Urbana and Carlos Arzate—Shah said a refrigerated "veggie valet" truck is available to store groceries.

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