A lakeshore community is debuting its flavorful re-imagining of an annual event by pairing fine dining with locally crafted drinks.
The Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau, 95 Blue Star Hwy., Douglas, recently announced “Savor the Art Coast,” an artisan food and craft beverage pairing event planned for noon-6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 30, at Wicks Park in downtown Saugatuck. The event will replace the long-standing summer festival known as Taste of Saugatuck.
Savor the Art Coast event features a number of Saugatuck-Douglas area restaurants, wineries, breweries, cider producers and local chefs bringing their skills in food and beverage together in an artful pairing for visitors.
The free event is meant to highlight the artisan and culinary skills of the region and will replace the roughly 20-yeard-old Taste of Saugatuck, which began to transition into a street food festival, according to Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We just finished our long-term strategic marketing plan for tourism. We are branded The Art Coast of Michigan, and not just visual arts, but culinary arts and the art of relaxation,” said Fairchild. “We are about art in all of its many iterations, and because we have an emphasis on the culinary arts, we decided we wanted this to be more reflective of the culinary arts and articulate our brand message better.”
With a number of restaurants expressing interest in participating in an event focused more on culinary pairings rather than the Taste of Saugatuck format, Fairchild said she believes Savor the Art Coast is resonating with the restaurants.
“It is difficult at this time of year because of all their help is going back to school, so it is a real commitment for these restaurants to come out here understaffed and still support it. We have a lot of new participants,” said Fairchild. “I think it is going to have a very positive impact. We are seeing a lot of interest on social media.”
The “pair-affair” will feature local beverage artisans Saugatuck Brewing Co., Griffin Claw, Latitude 42 Craft Brew, Alaskan Brewing Co., Fenn Valley Winery, Cranes Hard Ciders and Virtue Cider. Participating chefs and restaurants include The Kirby, The White House Bistro, Crane’s Pie Pantry, Farm House Deli, Alley’s, Wicks Park Bar & Grille, Respite Cappuccino Court, Coral Gables, Spectators Bar & Grill, Saugatuck Brewing Co., Back Alley Pizza, Kilwins, Saugatuck Tea Company, The Olive Mill, Lucy’s Little Kitchen and Uncommon Coffee Roasters.
“The food quality is going to be remarkably different, and basically we are reinforcing we are The Art Coast of Michigan,” said Fairchild.
A couple of the pairings include Saugatuck Brewing’s local craft beers with their chef’s marinated grilled chicken skewers, brisket sliders and chilled raisin-walnut bread pudding with caramel-stout drizzle; and Chef Mindy Trafman of the Kirby will introduce her charcuterie plate, truffle fries, and chocolate wontons with Latitude 42 craft beer.
Savor the Art Coast is also inviting food critics from regional publications to judge the most creative booths, best pairings and various culinary categories, according to a press release. Other activities include live entertainment provided by Rock Shop and Random Play; educational and fun culinary activities for children, such as cupcake decorating and marshmallow sculptures; and a drawing featuring several two-night getaway packages to the area.
Although the event is free to attend, tickets will be sold at the gate to purchase food and beverages in dollar increments. Profits from the event will go to the Saugatuck Education Association, Saugatuck Scholarship Foundation, support area tourism, and be used to develop Savor the Art Coast into a major regional culinary event in future years, Fairchild said.