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Finally: PDX to Host a Major Food Festival of Its Very Own

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Image of the New York City Food & Wine Festival courtesy Gandhu & Sarah via Flickr

Why should Aspen, Vegas, South Beach, and New York get all the fun? Eater has confirmed that plans are in the works to make Portland the site of a major international, multi-day food and beverage festival similar to the events that foodies currently flock to in, you know, every other city in the country.

Local impresarios Mike Thelin (one of the masterminds behind the 2010 IACP Portland conference and the 2010 Eater Awards) and Carrie Welch (who co-created, among other things, the New York City Wine and Food Festival) are the project's founders. According to Thelin and Welch (codename: Thelch), the festival will "tell the story of Oregon bounty" in a SXSW-like atmosphere that will focus the national culinary spotlight (chefs! media! industry peeps!) in on Portland. Early plans are to bring in national and international culinary talent — from Northern Spain, Copenhagen, Brooklyn, and Austin, among other places — in order to "showcase local talent in their rightful spot alongside their international peers," Thelin says. "We would only bring in chefs that highlight local chefs," Welch adds, "and hopefully create opportunities [for them] to create lasting relationships."

Though most food and wine festivals are luxury-focused, the goal for the PDX-based event — official festival name still pending — is to remain inclusive, embracing all of Oregon's culinary history, from Portland food trucks to James Beard's influence to highlighting winemakers and distilleries across the state. "The program will be tailored to the full range of eaters," Thelin says.

The festival's projected debut is scheduled for the fall of 2012, and in the meantime, Thelin and Welch are forming a local programming committee with both PDX- and nationally based advisers, securing sponsors, and seeking a charitable organization as a beneficiary.

The official statement, as released to Eater:
"We have formed an operational entity and group of advisers and sponsors and are creating a multi-day annual food and drink festival that celebrates and showcases the bounty of the city, state, and the region while raising significant dollars for charity. The festival will debut in Portland in 2012, and will feature local talent and luminaries along with chefs, media, and industry and thought leaders from around the country and around the world. We will be actively seeking a charitable organization as our beneficiary, and we will make additional announcements in the coming weeks and months."

Stay tuned, kids. This will be fun.

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