Category Archives: Food festivals

Mediterranean Festival will feature baklawa sundaes

The baklawa sundae

The baklawa sundae

Give the people what they want.

That’s what the organizers of the annual Mediterranean Festival at St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church have learned.

When they put on the event on Saturday, they’ll be bringing back two favorites by popular demand.

One is an invention called a baklawa sundae. These decadent desserts, made with ice cream covered with the layered Mediterranean dessert baklawa and chocolate sauce, used to be a popular River Festival Block Party treat back when the party happened on East Douglas.

They’re also bringing back stuffed grape leaves, which they decided not to make last year. But attendees helped them undecide that decision.

Dinner organizers are introducing a sampler plate, which will include a grilled chicken kebab, green beans and rice, hummus and pita, a stuffed grape leaf, a stuffed cabbage roll and a Greek cookie for dessert. Attendees also can order a la carte, get items to go in the bake shop and dine outdoors while listening to traditional music and buy kafta and chicken kabobs right off the grill.

The festival is 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 10 at the church. For more information, call 316-264-1576 or visit

Saturday’s Asian Festival is a food-lover’s paradise

If you love Asian food, exotic food, spicy food — really, if you love food — you should make a point to visit Saturday’s Asian Festival at Century II.

The event, now in its 33rd year, is intended as a peek into Asian culture in Wichita, but the main attraction is a giant food court featuring 40 different vendors serving cuisine native to 12 different countries.

New this year is Sri Lankan food. Two brothers representing Wichita’s 200-strong Sri Lankan community will be serving several native dishes, including one called koththu roti — a popular Sri Lankan street food made with curry and chopped meat and vegetables.

“It’s my favorite Sri Lankan food ever,” said TJ Jayaratne, who will be raising money for a planned Sri Lankan Buddhist temple for Wichita. “It’s so good. Back home, you would find a koththu store or two every half mile or so on the roadside.”

Admission to the festival, which lasts from 5:30 to 10 p.m., is free, and several local restaurants will be represented, too. Read my story that’s going in Friday’s Go! section for more details.

St. George’s annual Lebanese dinner is this weekend

Even now, the ladies and gents at St. George’s are cooking away.

Even as I type this, the talented congregants at St. George’s Orthodox Christian Cathedral are busy at the church assembling backlawa and cooking up kibbe for this weekend’s Lebanese dinner — a longstanding tradition of delciousness at the church.

The dinner offers customers plates (or to-go boxes) of cabbage rolls, kibbe, a rice and green bean dish called ruz and yuknee, salad, pita bread and a serving of sweet, sticky backlawa (the Lebanese version of the Greek’s baklava.) It’ll be served from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

The dinner is a huge undertaking for the church and attracts more than 5,500 people each year and raises around $90,000.

Dinners are $16 for adults and $8 for children 10 and under. While there, visitors also can take a tour of the cathedral and shop in the Country Kitchen, which offers delicious Lebanese fare to-go.

For tickets and information, call 316-636-4676.

Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff is Saturday

I’m not sure what I like most about the Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff most years, but I do this year.

I most like that my editor let the lead of my story slide.

“Locate your pants with the elastic waistband and bust out the Beano: It’s time to eat chili in Wichita.” (I must confess that I was inspired by this year’s, ahem, posters.)

The annual event is on Saturday will fill several downtown blocks in Wichita with chili cookers, chili tasters and all sorts of wacky contests, including a pepper eating contest. Read my story, which will be published in tomorrow’s Go section, and plan your chili approach for Saturday.

Greek food on the menu at church fundraiser

Wichitans will have the chance to indulge in Greek food this weekend at a church fundraiser dinner that’s been on hiatus for a few years.

The Holy Trinity Church Greek Orthodox Church at 805 N. Dellrose in Wichita is putting on its Greek Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Diners can choose from two platters — one featuring souvlaki, which is a pork shishkabob, and one featuring pastitsio, a rich Greek lasagna that is one of my favorite foods ever. Each platter costs $12 and comes with a variety of sides.

There will also be baklava and other desserts, and visitors can buy some items a la carte.

The small church last put on  the dinner around 2007, but recently, it’s brought on a full-time priest and is trying to grow in size. A committee decided that bringing back the food festival would be a good start.

It’s an appetizer for another popular church fundraiser — the annual St. George Orthodox Christian Church’s Lebanese Dinner and Food Sale. This year’s is coming up Oct. 12 and 13.

For more information on Saturday’s dinner, visit the Holy Trinity website.

Mediterranean festival to become more festival-ish

Kafta will be added to the menu at Saturday’s Mediterranean Festival at St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church.

The annual Mediterranean Festival at St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church — a celebration of Mediterranean food — will be a little different than it’s been in the past.

For one, the festival — which is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday  at the church, 344 S. Martinson – will be put on for just one day rather than two. The Orthodox Easter, which was last weekend, conflicted with the preparation schedule, necessitating the change this year.

Also, organizers this year are trying to make the festival a little bit more festival-ish. In the past, attendees ordered food, ate food and left. This year, the event will feature an outdoor tent, where people can dine al fresco, listen to Arabic music and watch Arabic dancing. They also can watch and sniff as church members grill kafta and chicken kebabs. (Kafta - lean ground beef, mixed with onion and spices, then grilled and served in a pita with a garlicky minty sauce – has been added to the menu this year. Stuffed grape leaves have been taken off.)

“When people hear the words, ‘Mediterranean Festival,’ they expect dancing and music and fun, not just walking through a buffet line and getting food,” said Alison Pike, one of the orgnaizers. “We are trying to make it feel more like a true festival.”

Attendees can order items such as kibbe, baklawa and meat pies a la carte in advance by calling ll 316-264-1576. They also can show up and dine in, either indoors or outdoors, or carry out. The festival also features a “market,” which will be expanded this year, that sells items such as pita bread, salad dressing and more.

Arena’s Ribfest set to return in May

Intrust Bank Arena has scheduled its second annual Ribfest, a big outdoor gathering of professional slab-ists from across the country, for May 16-18 in the same spot it was last year — City Lot D at 777 E. Waterman.

The event will feature six national rib vendors from Texas, Illinois, Virginia and Arkansas — the same ones that were in attendance last year.

Attendees pay $4 to get in the event (it’s free for children 12 and under) then buy their slabs and sides from the vendors. Live music and activities will be staged throughout the area.

The festival will go on from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. May 16-18. Lunch will be half-price on Thursday, May 16, and on that day, attendees can get in free if they have a Wichita River Festival button.

A few additions this year: Arena officials are hoping to have a biker night on Thursday and put on a classic car show on Saturday. They’re also devising a way to get local barbecue vendors involved but are still working on those plans.

About 10,000 people attended the event last year, said Christine Pileckas, marketing manager for the arena. But organizers are hoping for more this year, mainly because they’re hoping that unlike last year, Saturday night won’t be canceled because of high winds and lightning. But it is May in Kansas, so…

To read up on the Ribfest, visit the arena’s website.

Baklawa, a butter bath and a beautiful bonnet

I love my hairnet. I love my gloves. I love my apron. I love baklawa.

This morning, I was invited to St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral to participate in a decadent ritual — the preparation of 13,650 pieces of baklawa that will be served at next weekend’s 79th annual Lebanese dinner.

The dinner is a fundraiser for the church at 7515 E. 13th St., and the members — employing skills passed down by generations before them — spend weeks in the church kitchen preparing the fabulous food. Each year, it feeds more than 5,500 people and raises around $90,000.

Today was one of many baklawa assembly days, and hair-netted church members were everywhere, distributing nuts and dough, administering butter baths, rolling, cutting, baking and syruping. I learned A LOT about the process and assembled a few rolls myself.

Next week, I’ll be giving away two tickets to the dinner, which is delicious, so be sure to watch for that contest on The Blog. The dinner is from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 13 and from noon to 7 p.m Oct. 14. Tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for children and are available on-site.

For more information, call 316-636-4676.

Wichita Ribfest details coming together

The pieces of the Wichita Ribfest at Intrust Bank Arena have been slowly coming together over the past several weeks. And today, the arena announced its Friday, May 18 musical lineup, which includes headliners Gloriana, a country act that opened for Taylor Swift when she performed at the arena in 2010. Local bands The Watchers and Nobody’s Business also will perform that night.

The Wichita Ribfest is an outdoor barbecue festival featuring music and national rib vendors that originally scheduled for last August, but the arena canceled it citing “unforeseen conflicts.”  The annual BlackTop Nationa event was scheduled in the same area the same weekend. Arena officials announced in February that they were rescheduling the event for May 17-19 in Lot D, a city-managed parking lot east of the arena at 777 E. Waterman.

Gloriana will entertain Ribfest crowds on Friday, May 18.

The arena previously announced the Saturday, May 19, musical lineup: Former American Idol contestant Casey James, Mexican musician and singer Kareem Lopez and local groups Conjunto Anonimo, Poultry ‘N Motion and Pretty Ugly.

The lineup of six rib vendors also has been announced: Cowboy’s Barbecue & Rib Co. and Texas Thunder, both from Texas; Chicago BBQ Company; Uncle Bub’s BBQ from Westmont, Ill.; Johnson’s BBQ out of Virginia; and Porky Chicks BBQ out of Arkansas.

Wichita Ribest also will feature a beer garden and kids’ activities. It’s scheduled for 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, May 17, through Saturday, May 19. Admission is $4, free for children 12 and under. Half-price admission wlil be offeree from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Those with a Wichita River Festival button will be admitted free.

Arena reviving Wichita Ribfest idea

People line up for their free lunch earlier today inside Intrust Bank Arena.

Intrust Bank Arena is reviving its idea for the Wichita Ribfest, an outdoor barbecue festival originally scheduled for last August.

The event, which will feature six national rib vendors, live music, a beer garden and kids’ activities, now is scheduled for May 17-19 in Lot D, a city-managed parking east of the arena at 777 E. Waterman.

I attended the press conference where the event was announced earlier today, and not just because the arena was passing out free ribs, potato salad and homemade chips. Although I certainly enjoyed that aspect of the event. A line of people that included nearby office workers were waiting to get in when the doors opened at 11:30 a.m. By the end of the event, about 300 people had taken advantage of the free lunch, I was told.

By the way, the arena also is asking people to vote on an official logo for the event. I like the bony pig with the flaming back, personally. You can cast your vote on the arena’s website between now and 10 a.m. Feb. 24

All the details about the Ribfest are in the story I wrote earlier today. Here are a few more photos from the event, shot by Eagle photog Jaime Green. Read More »