A parade of celebratory nibbles, sips and bites to be enjoyed across Utah
By Geoff Griffin and Kathleen Curry
Utah summers have a smorgasbord of festival possibilities, and at many of these gatherings, adventurers can discover scrumptious foods, drinks and treats. From mountain resorts to lakeside drive-ins and urban adventures, there’s a full buffet to be tempted by at festivals across the state. Don’t miss out!
A food that sounds like it salutes Switzerland and Mexico but is actually a mix of Navajo and Mormon cuisines can be found at Midway Swiss Days Festival (Midway Town Square, MidwayBoosters.com) held Aug. 30-31, 2019. The story of the Swiss taco starts with Elva Henderson, who grew up on the Navajo reservation but wound up living in Midway in the late 1970s among the descendants of LDS Swiss immigrants. She offered to help with the annual Swiss Days festival by serving Navajo tacos. The combination of taco fillings and condiments loaded on Navajo fry bread proved to be an instant hit and was soon a fixture at the festival. Over the years, the fry bread got replaced by scones, part of the holy trinity of Mormon foods (along with fry sauce and Jell-O), and the name changed to the Swiss taco. Whatever you want to call this mixture of four cultures and cuisines, the one word that will come out of your mouth when you try it is, “Delicious!”
Jimmy Buffet might have his margaritas, but the frozen concoction that helps Utahns hang on is the raspberry shake. Nowhere are they more beloved than at Bear Lake, a boating and watercraft destination known as Utah’s Caribbean for its soft sand beaches and turquoise water. The area’s hot summer days and cool nights combine to concentrate the berry’s sweetness, and when added to ice cream, become a taste of heaven. To celebrate its raspberry harvest—which typically starts the third week of July and runs for about a month—Bear Lake holds an annual Raspberry Days Festival (145 W. Logan Road, Garden City, 435-946-2901, BearLakeRaspberryDays.com), taking place this year on Aug. 1-3. The three-day event features a Little Miss Berry Pageant, parade, Laketown Rodeo, 5K run, fireworks and more. And of course, all the bright pink raspberry milkshakes you can handle, blended to perfection at numerous diners and drive-ins around town.
While not technically a festival, the Salt Lake City Downtown Farmers Market (Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 West, SLC, SLCFarmersMarket.org) is a weekly celebration of food and commerce. Held Satudays from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. from June 8 – Oct. 19, the market has served as a launching pad for food vendors that have gained a local following. That’s where you’ll find Argentina’s Best Empanadas serving up the South American filled pasties that are all the rage in Utah. Lemon beef and roasted chicken are a popular choice, or check out a vegetarian option made with cheese curds from Beehive Cheese Company. It’s also a chance to get chipa bread—a starchy, cheese bread made with yucca and tapioca. Argentina’s Best also has a brick-and-mortar location (357 S. 200 East, SLC, 801-548-8194, ArgentinasBestSLC.com) with limited hours, where you can even text or e-mail ahead to put in your order.
From late summer through fall, a section of Highway 89 just south of Brigham City turns into Utah’s Famous Fruit Way (Facebook.com/UtahsFamousFruitWay). Multiple local growers such as Pettingill Fruit Farm and Tagge’s Famous Fruit & Veggie Farms set up stands along the road to give passersby a chance to shop for just about any type of produce they can think of. A particularly good weekend to attend is Sept. 6-7 when Brigham City hosts its annual Peach Days celebration (BoxElderChamber.com/About/Peach-Days) with a variety of events, including parades, concerts and, of course, some really great peaches.
Beer drinkers in Utah must be a contented lot. They have a fistful of fabulous festivals at which they can imbibe the sumptuous suds of summer. Snowbird Resort, for example, hosts the Oktoberfest (Snowbird.com/Oktoberfest) on weekends mid-August to mid-October. This local Bavarian tradition dates back to 1973 and features German-style beers as well as Utah-brewed beers. And while there are other festivals that celebrate local breweries or highlight great home brews, there is one beer party in town that’s simply the biggest and baddest: ours! We boast, but we’re proud of the Utah Beer Festival. Vamoose Utah’s sister publication Salt Lake City Weekly sponsors the festival (UtahBeerFestival.com), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Aug. 17-18 at the Utah State Fair Park (155 N. 1000 West, SLC). You’ll find roughly 50 breweries pouring 200-plus beers (and ciders). This adults-only event also features 15 food trucks, music by local bands, a merchandise mall and more.