Stalking the Empire Asparagus Festival: Welcome to Piss-Happy Michigan
Here at Jaunted, we spend considerable time and (virtual) ink drooling over weird food festivals. So, this summer, we've decided to visit a few. All this week our Michigan embed Lara Zielin will report back from the Empire Asparagus Festival.
Empire, Michigan may host the only food festival where people talk extensively about pee. A necessary conversation cornerstone, perhaps, when you dedicate an entire weekend to asparagus, the vegetable that can transform a “humble chamberpot into a bower of aromatic perfume,” as Marcel Proust once put it.
Embracing funky pee is just part of the whole asparagus experience trumpeted by Empire residents, from root to shoot. Each year, the 400-person village on the white-sand shores of Lake Michigan swells to hold thousands, all coming together for asparagus beer, the asparagus parade, an asparagus cook-off, the “Kick Ass-paragus” 5k, and (of course!) the asparagus poetry contest.
Apart from all the activities, what grounds this oddball festival is actually devouring fresh asparagus. So, to go along with your asparagus beer, a tent with local vendors offers up asparagus foccacia, asparagus pizza, asparagus ice cream, asparagus brats, and much more. Simply put, if you can imagine a food with asparagus in it or on it, it’s probably here.
The festival takes place the third weekend in May each year, smack in the middle of the asparagus growing season—and a full week before the official kickoff of Michigan’s tourist season. For those looking to visit next year, one of the best sources of information is the festival’s Facebook page, which you can like right here.
Tomorrow: Chowing down on some of the aforementioned aspara-goodies!
[Photos: Lara Zielin]