Saturday, May 17, 2008

Adventures in Dining #2: Wildflower Festival

My ever-lovely wife the Rock Star is a true polished gem throughout the year, but she really sparkles during the month of May. Winter is long over, spring is coming to an end, and her favorite season, summer, is just around the corner. She and I also celebrate our anniversary in May. (I hope she still enjoys that; I sure do spend enough money to make sure she does!) Finally, her very favorite festival of all takes place in May. The State Fair of Texas? We only go once every three or four years at best. North Texas Irish Festival? Excellent, but still not in the ballpark. No, our own pet gathering of the entire North Texas Festival Calendar takes place in mid-May in Galatyn Park hard by the Countrywide buildings, the Wildflower Festival, named for the beautiful native flowers preserved all over the city as a point of civic pride.

Like its kissing cousin every fall in Fair Park, the Richardson festival features crafts, exibits, vendors with wares for sale, great food, and most important, LIVE MUSIC. But while the Grande Dame of October shows her age a little more each year, the Richardson festival retains a cleanness and freshness totally unknown by its Southern cousin. Best of all, those of us who inhabit the Northern Metroplex environs barely have to travel south of George Bush or north of LBJ to enjoy its delightful charms. So, on a recent Friday evening, I drove my lovely wife and her sister the Wild Thing out to the festival site. Bonus: They happened to be in possession of 3-Day VIP passes, courtesy of their brother The Master Builder. (Unfortunately, his considerable influence was not enough to score me my own VIP pass, but that was OK: the best feature of the coveted pass, besides the free drink tickets, was a parking pass enabling us to park in the ultra-close Blue Parking Garage.)

ATMOSPHERE

Tons of booths featuring vendors hawking their wares. Several forms of street entertainment, from steel drum bands to tumblers, all of it good. Plenty of food and drink concessions. Best of all: four performance venues featuring singer-songwriters, acoustic acts, up-and-coming local bands, and established name stars with an emphasis on the music of Baby Boomers. Needless to say, the three of us were in hog heaven. Since we were most interested in the national acts, we took care to get there just as the gates opened, the better to pitch our portable chairs and blankets in one of the choicest spots in the natural grass-covered amphittheatre overlooking the main stage. Speaking of which, here are a few tips to ensure you get the most merriment:

1. ARRIVE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. The better to get a great spot. You will need to
bring your own lawn chairs.

2. If you are claustrophobic at all, DO NOT camp out at the Main Stage during prime time.
People will be seated cheek-by-jowl during the hours when the headline acts are featured.
(Generally about 8-11PM Friday and Saturday nights.)

3. BE PATIENT. The longer you wait to get in line for food and drink, the longer the lines will
be. Also, people will often STAND smack dab in the middle of the sidewalks; you will have
to negotiate your way with care.

4. TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED. For instance, people will usually seek out the most
crowded areas for restrooms and refreshments. A little exploring will go a long way
toward ensuring you have a happier festival.

After setting up, I decided to do a little exploring on my own to see what I could rustle up for dinner.

FOOD

Okay, this will seem like heresy to seasoned State Fair goers, but I have a confession to make: Corny dogs DO NOT rock my world. Yes, they are available at Wildflower, but why should I take what amounts to a rather ordinary breaded hot dog on a stick when Pizza By the Slice was waiting with a very large, fresh, just-out-of-the-oven slice of pepperoni pizza for only $5? No, it wasn't quite as good as Fireside Pies, but the hot slice was perfectly crispy and chewy, with plenty of pepperoni and sauce, and kept me perfectly satisfied for hours. Soon enough, the Rock Star saw my slice and decided to join me in my pizza quest. Her sister the Wild Thing opted for Marios Gyros, a heavenly concoction of lamb, peppers, onions and tzatziki sauce that was so thoroughly appetizing that we decided to join her a few hours later. (My spouse's gyro was chicken, not lamb, and although she enjoyed it she wished later that she would have gotten lamb.) So at Wildflower, as with most festivals, freshly-prepared street food was the order of the day, and it made me wish that street food was available year-round in our neck of the woods.

WEBSITE & OVERALL

As I said earlier, the quality of entertainment is very high, the food is great and the beer is cold. What more reason do you need? This year's festival lasts thru Sunday, May 18th and the website is http://www.wildflowerfestival.net/. Take a swing by there while it lasts, and as always:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

5 comments:

Margie said...

We've been meaning to go to this festival for ages! Now you've got me craving a gyro.

Food Czar said...

Margie, I'm afraid the Wildflower Festival is over for the year, but it will come around again in May 2009. I still say it's better than the State Fair. Cleaner, less crowded, less expensive, and you don't have to buy those stupid tickets!!!

Margie said...

I'm such a fair lover, I can't imagine any festival being better. But, when I stop and think of it, all I really do at the fair is eat, listen to music, look at exhibits and shop a little. Oh, and sit with friends and drink beer. I definitely have to check this out next year. We have some friends who rent a motel room near by whenever they go to the Wildflower Festival. That sounds like a good idea. I was shocked when I saw how many bands they had there.

michelle said...

Oh my... no love for the corn dog? That is fair heresy!

j/k, i'll look past that because i really liked this post. i have never been to the wildflower festival (or many others besides the state fair, for that matter) but look forward to going next year. thanks!

michelle
thelittledish.com

Food Czar said...

Michelle, if it makes you feel any better, rest assured that my lovely wife The Rock Star LOVES corny dogs. For myself, I'm not saying I don't like them, I'm just saying I can take them or leave them. Besides, even at the State Fair, there are a lot of other foods I like better, such as those nachos made in the shape of Texas.
And of course gyros!