Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Feast of Seven Fishes Festival
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian celebration on Christmas Eve that features dishes made with fish and seafood. Seven dishes (sometimes more) are prepared using seafood. While I didn't see anything starting particular dishes are required, there are definitely some popular ones, like fried smelts, fish stew and more.
North Central West Virginia has a large Italian population, so it makes sense to have a festival honoring this tradition in Fairmont. I'm told the festival came to be because of a book, or graphic novel, that showcased a family cooking fish on Christmas Eve. The book spearheaded the launch of the festival and celebration of the Italian heritage.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes festival was held on Adams Street in downtown Fairmont this past Saturday (Dec. 13). There's no fee to get in, but the vendors all have wares and food for sale. Entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. included Benjamin DeFazio, Jenna Won't Sing and 5 Guys Named Moe.
They have a "cooking school" as part of the festival, which are demonstrations that feature eight classic Italian dishes prepared by local chefs. Tickets for those were $20 per person and included samples of dishes and a glass of wine.
A holiday artisan market was held indoors and had pottery, cutting boards, baking supplies, soaps and lotions, as well as coffee and cookies at the cafe area.
Street vendors had everything from steak hoagies to kettle corn to cannolis to baked goods. This is where I was really searched for those seafood dishes. The most I found was crab soup, lobster ravioli, fried calamari and seafood chowder. Not quite seven.
Lisa did buy one dish - just to have a taste of the Seven Fishes - from Heston Farms Foxfire Restaurant. We got the lobster ravioli for $7. It was pretty tasty, though not quite impressive with the five or so raviolis. It was very good, though.
If you're willing to brave a very chilly mid-December Saturday to check out the festival, it is a nice little getaway. Plus it's a great chance to learn about new artisans in the area and get some very tasty grub!