Madison’s Femmestival showcases meals, music and visible artists | Meals & Drink

On the morning of Femmestival, Madison’s annual celebration of ladies, femmes and non-binary entrepreneurs, Alexa Alfaro will head west with a trailer of kebabs, lumpia and ube ice cream in tow.

Alfaro owns Meat on the Avenue, a rising meals truck and catering enterprise based mostly in Milwaukee. With three trailers going out in 2023 and two new ideas to handle, Alfaro and her brother/co-owner, Matt Alfaro, are already mentors to entrepreneurs with comparable goals.

“We get so many questions from folks of shade, at a decrease earnings bracket, that will not produce other alternatives out there,” Alexa Alfaro mentioned. “‘How did you do it? How did you begin?’

“We’re making an attempt to verify we give as a lot info and encouragement as attainable … so that they really feel higher than we did after we began. To allow them to begin somewhat additional forward.”

This “higher collectively” perspective could be very a lot within the spirit of Femmestival, launched and nonetheless organized by Culinary Girls Collective and Garver Feed Mill in February 2020. Francesca Hong, who’s additionally a state consultant, represents CLC and works with meals distributors. Bethany Jurewicz coordinates Garver’s contributions, which this 12 months contains all of the monetary assist.

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Bethany Jurewicz is the Director of Public Programming and Enterprise Operations at Garver Feed Mill. Jurewicz mentioned she and co-organizer Francesca Hong obtained 170 candidates for Femmestival this 12 months. 

Garver has ramped up its occasion programming in current months. With Craftacular markets taking place extra recurrently there, “we had 170 vendor purposes,” mentioned Jurewicz, who’s the director of public programming on the refurbished east facet mill.

For the primary time in 2023, there shall be two Femmestival Sundays. Feb. 19 options meals. Feb. 26 spotlights musicians. There shall be plenty of visible artists at each — jewelers and printmakers, felters and purveyors of African-style attire.

Each days, the occasion is free, each for distributors to take part and other people to attend. Meals gadgets, beforehand not more than $5 per merchandise, can now go as much as $8.

“Francesca and I had all the time envisioned it being a regional competition,” Jurewicz mentioned. “We’re nonetheless all Wisconsin, however we’re hoping to get a pair Chicago distributors someday. We need to deliver these folks into Madison, and convey them to audiences right here.”

Arts and music

Jurewicz selected 25 arts distributors for Feb. 19 and 22 distributors for Feb. 26, retaining the probably pursuits of every viewers in thoughts.

The food-focused Femmestival day options The Undaunted Herbalist, a vendor who prints tea towels and napkins (Bernie & Zuzu), Succulents and Such, and Prettyful Creations (maker of wood-burned coasters and salad spoons, amongst different issues).

On Feb. 26, distributors embrace Communication, the close to east facet arts group, in addition to Each B Wants a Scrunchie and Erda + Arch, which makes clay and paper items.

Jurewicz is happy for among the youthful distributors, just like the artist behind 27 Bones Studio.

“There are two or three artists which are very younger, and that is considered one of their very first festivals,” she mentioned.

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Jenny Weina of Jay Clay Co greets attendees at Femmestival in 2022. Jay Clay Co. is about to vend on Feb. 19 this 12 months. 

Audifax, a mural and set up artist who presently has a present in Garver’s Canvas gallery, is making a big scale artwork piece Jurewicz will cling within the rafters above the atrium. It’s known as “Centre,” and it’s funded partially by the Madison Arts Fee.

“It’s my excuse to place one thing up within the ceiling,” Jurewicz mentioned. “It’s the one time there’s sufficient freedom from non-public occasions to try this.”

“Centre” is a “figurative sculpture … it focuses lots on a meditative state of being,” she added. “It entails textiles and lights that increase all through the entire house.” Guests to Garver can catch Audifax engaged on it a number of days every week main as much as the primary occasion.

A full music lineup has not but been introduced, however performers are set to incorporate CoMingle, Robust Arm Sally, Ladyslipper, Xica Davis, Angela Puerta, Uncle JIM and Juicee Monroe.

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Angela Puerta is about to carry out at Femmestival on Feb. 26. 

Getting off the bottom

This 12 months’s culinary lineup at Femmestival contains established manufacturers, like Madison’s (a downtown restaurant), the increasing Miggy’s Bakes (quickly to open a brick and mortar bakery in Middleton), and Madame Chu Delicacies.

However the vibe of Femmestival has all the time been start-up centric. With no participation price or sales space rental, it has a low barrier to entry, providing alternatives for ladies who may work in a restaurant however not personal one, or who could also be simply getting their model off the bottom.

That’s true for Missey Russell, proprietor of Blended Sisters. On the morning of Femmestival, Russell, her fiancé and daughter are heading to the Garver kitchens to complete prepping and warming candy potatoes, soiled rice, inexperienced beans and pot roast.

Russell began making use of for permits and licenses throughout COVID, in 2020 — “that was imagined to be my kickoff 12 months,” she mentioned. The pandemic “put issues on maintain somewhat bit. Now I’m able to go.”

Russell intends for Blended Sisters to be a collaboration along with her associates, all “superb cooks” with soul meals specialties like baked mac and cheese, fried cabbage, fried hen and greens with smoked turkey.

When deciding on Femmestival meals, “I had all my household weighing in on it,” Russell mentioned. “It was pot roast or turkey wings. I lastly nailed it all the way down to the pot roast.”

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Yakub Kazi of Ember Meals greets diners at Femmestival in 2022. 

The best alternative ever’

General, dishes at Femmestival 2023 could also be extra sturdy than in earlier years.

“If you inform folks there’s a $5 cap, there’s lots much less protein,” Jurewicz mentioned. “Meat is again with the $8 cap. It has undoubtedly expanded the menus that distributors are capable of supply.”

Meat on the Avenue, for instance, is bringing adobo, slow-cooked pork in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, in addition to grilled teriyaki hen and “sizzling pig” (slow-cooked pork with pickled crimson onions, Srirachi-citrus aioli and garlic rice).

Meat on the Avenue has vended in Madison earlier than, and Alexa Alfaro enjoys the chance to come back to their followers.  

“Folks, particularly our regulars, will need to purchase packs of lumpia to take residence with them,” Alfaro mentioned.

Russell hopes Femmestival could possibly be the kickoff she has lengthy needed for Blended Sisters. She’s been engaged on an internet site and a social media presence.

“Beginning off my catering enterprise, with the ability to come to occasions comparable to this to showcase my work, opens myself as much as a greater variety of potential clients,” she mentioned. “I see this as a beautiful alternative … to place myself on the market.

“I’m a cheerful individual. I put love into each dish I make. That is the best alternative ever.”