LARAC Festival, Glens Falls, NY

One of my favorite things about Glens Falls, NY is the local Art Community. When people think of the arts in the area, they instantly think of Saratoga Springs. While Saratoga Springs does have a vibrant arts scene, I think Glens Falls, gives it a run for the money. We have the Charles R. Wood Theater that hosts, among other events, the Adirondack Theater Festival. We have The Shirt Factory, a converted factory that is the home to art galleries, shops, and heath and wellness practitioners.

One of my favorite events happens every year in June, outside, and then again in the fall, inside. It’s the LARAC Art Festival. LARAC, short for the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, has been hosting a juried art and craft festival in Glens Falls, NY for forty-five years. I’ve attended the June festival whenever possible for the last 15 years, long before I moved to Glens Falls. The June Festival is, by far, the best one of it’s kind in the region. 80% of the artists that apply to be vendors are turned away. LARAC seeks to have the best of the best and to not over saturate any particular category.

When I first started attending, I traveled from my very traditional home in Ballston Spa. My decorating style was Shabby Chic and I found plenty of items that fit my style. Over the years I have bought many gift items for family and friends that fit their varied tastes. The last three years, I simply walk the block and half from my loft in a converted factory. My decorating style has morphed to “industrial” to fit my new place and there are plenty of items that fit my new style as well.

There’s plenty to see and do, with over 150 vendors, delicious food and live music both days. This year’s festival takes place June 18 and 19 in Downtown Glens Falls City Park. For more information, visit their website LARAC Arts Festival

Foodies’ Paradise, Driscoll Foods Show

Van-Lang Foods, Bacon wrapped Water Chestnut
Van-Lang Foods, Bacon wrapped Water Chestnut
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to a Food Show produced by Driscoll Foods. Until the last year or so, Driscoll primarily provided food and other hospitality related items to the restaurants in the downstate market. Driscoll Foods has entered the upstate market and is giving Sysco and US Foodservice a run for their money.

I’ve been to many food shows over the years in my previous life in the hospitality industry. This show was particularly enjoyable because of the quality of the vendors. Rule number one is to not eat before you go to one of these shows because there are so many things to sample, you will need lots of room. Driscoll is unique because they have their own butcher shop. Not only do they age their own beef, but they custom cut their meat. This ensures quality and also lets restaurants pick the size of the steak and the quantity of each cut to eliminate spoilage or the need for frozen meat. The beef I sampled was superb! I’m pretty picky as my grandfather and his brothers owned a butcher shop in the city. From the time I could eat solid food, my grandfather would hand select my dinner and drop it off to my mom to cook each night.

There was more than just beef there. There was an abundance of fresh seafood, desserts, side items, dressings, sauces and condiments. My favorite vendor was Van-Lang Foods. They had an array of appetizers that come frozen, but you would never know it. I’m all for making everything on site, but in some restaurants, this isn’t an option. Van-Lang makes them for you from fresh ingredients, and then freezes them. What a great option. I sampled the Vegetable Spring Rolls and couldn’t have detected they were frozen, a rarity for frozen spring rolls. My favorite was the Water Chestnut Wrapped in Bacon. Another favorite vendor was Zina’s Salads for the same reason. They make composed cold side dishes from fresh ingredients. They had an incredible variety, each one better than the next. My favorites salads were the Carrot and Raisin and the Black Bean with Corn and Roasted Red Peppers. If pickles are you thing, then Patriot Pickle had something for everyone. I liked the sour ones best, they had a great garlic note.

One of the best things about this show is that similar products were grouped together so you could compare them side by side. There also were strategically places beverage vendors throughout the show to satisfy your thirst during this grand tasting. I can only hope I am invited back next time!

Craft Beer in Glens Falls

Photo courtesy of Davidson Brothers
Photo courtesy of Davidson Brothers
If you love craft beers, Glens Falls, NY is the place to go. This walkable downtown seems to have become a hub for beer lovers. There are two that have been around for quite some time and there are a few more that have recently joined the scene.

Davidson Brothers on Glen Street is probably the most well known. In spite of the the controversy surrounding their tipped employee policy the last few months, they are a destination for many tourists and regulars alike. Their signature beers include their IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Scotch Ale and traditional Brown Ale. They also have a rotation of Specialty Brews that appear seasonally. They have a full upscale pub menu and on the weekends they add live music into the mix. Davidson Brothers also has a brewery and tasting room on Route 9 in Queensbury.

Coopers Cave Ale Company also has their signature brews and a rotation of specialty ales. They also make their own sodas and ice cream. The food at Cooper’s Cave is outstanding and it’s a great place to bring families. They are located on Sagamore Street.

Mean Max, located on Glen Street across from Davidson’s, is one of the new kids on the block. Beer is their thing. They don’t serve food, but the good news is you can bring your own food or order food to be delivered there. In addition to the beer brewed on site, you can also enjoy wines from a local, Washington County winery, Amorici Vineyard. Wednesday is Trivia night and they also have a dart league.

If you venture just over the bridge into South Glens Falls, you will find Common Roots. Like Mean Max, they don’t serve food, but they do have an outside area in the warm weather months. Thursdays is Trivia Night for Common Roots and the first Sunday of the month they have a donation based yoga class. Every Monday, they share a new cask beer.

These are the breweries you can walk to from Glens Falls, but there are plenty more within a 20-25 minute drive. You can check out some of the others on the Glens Falls Beer Trail You can also ride the Hoppy Trails Brew Bus for a safe way to enjoy.

If you’re not still feeling the effects of St. Patrick’s Day, The Glens Falls Beer Festival in March 19, 2016 beginning at 4 pm.