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Art festival features local culinary artists

Art festival features local culinary artists

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Student-run food truck

Charlie Townsley (left) and his brother, Arlo, opened the Food for Thought food truck in Viroqua this spring, and, under Arlo’s leadership and with participation by other Youth Initiative High School students, will offer Driftless Area Art Festival visitors a variety of locally sourced tacos and burritos. Charlie’s off to college.

Food for Thought, a nonprofit student run, locally sourced taco truck based out of Viroqua will be one of the new food vendors at the Driftless Area Art Festival in Soldiers Grove, Sept. 19-20.

The truck operation began this year as the senior project of Charlie Townsley, a student at Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua. Business opened April 29 and, though Townsley is moving on to college in Minnesota, the project continues under the leadership of his brother Arlo.

Teams of Youth Initiative students, with adult mentors, help staff the truck, a spring to early fall operation “pretty much following the farmers market season,” Townsley said. “We use local produce, organic as much as possible.”

The Food for Thought truck will serve pulled pork tacos, vegetable tacos, bean and cheese quesadillas and breakfast burritos – not just at breakfast time.

Other new vendors, all committed to the art festival’s concept of local sourcing for its visual, culinary and performing arts, include Tri R Catering, owned by Russ and Jill Riggs and operating as a family business out of Steuben. Tri R will offer Italian beef, pulled pork sandwiches, homemade potato rolls, chips and cookies.

A third vendor new in 2015, the Kickapoo Exchange Food Co-op, will feature pre-packaged snacks like nuts, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit and natural sodas.

Returning favorites include Mary’s Berries from Ferryville, offering shortcakes and smoothies, and Apple’licious Pie Depot from Rolling Ground, with apple pizza, and cherry, apple, strawberry, blueberry and rhubarb pies.

La Crosse’s Crepe Jean Luc of La Crosse will offer French crepes, sweet crepes and French pastries. The Dawg House of Linxville will serve hot dogs, catfish, potatoes and cheese curds.

The Soldiers Grove Lions tent will have, among its beer and wine offerings, beer from Driftless Brewing Company, the local microbrewery that began in Excelsior and moved to Soldiers Grove in 2014.

For art lovers who want a closer peek at innovative approaches to food preparation and enjoyment, the Artisan Edibles tent will again feature foods and wine from the Driftless Region, to be sampled and purchased for consumption later.

Among the features are culinary artist Monique Hooker and Got2Hav Pie of De Soto creates pie crusts, puff pastry, cookies and other goodies. Chef and former restaurateur, she’ll offer samples, recipes and her award-winning cookbook, “Cooking with the Seasons.”

Austins Rush Creek Farm in Ferryville grows produce using natural methods. In September they’ll sample and sell pickled foods like Dilly Beans and Pickled Beets, as well as a wide variety of jams and jellies.

Sugar Creek Winery, owned by Paul Franzen, will sample and sell several varieties of several grape and award-winning fruit wines produced in Ferryville.

The American Hazelnut Company will display products, including kernels, oil, flour and cosmetics, along with some of the processes used to create them.

This is the 11th year of the annual Driftless Area Art Festival, which as always offers free admission and ample, free and convenient parking.

Full details on the 83 visual artists, four performing arts groups and other features of the festival are available at


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