On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Allentown community gathered on 19th and Liberty streets for the World of Food Festival. The festival is arranged every year by the West End Alliance, and all proceeds from this event go towards street banners, Christmas decor, plant maintenance and amenities.
Arriving at the festival, the first view was of an oversized truck (which, to be honest, was slightly confusing). However, on the other side of said truck (which was actually just blocking off the street) was where the festival truly began. There was a large seating area with tables covered in bright plastic cloths and all sorts of vendors lining the street. When the sun went down, the lights came on, and the atmosphere was truly electric on Liberty Street.
The festival catered to many different people. In the same area, I saw families enjoying cornhole in the kids’ area, dog parents strolling the streets (sneaking a few bites to their pooches), a particularly endearing elderly couple giggling as they enjoyed a crepe and grandparents taking their grandkids for facepaint. Several Muhlenberg students made comments throughout the night about being jealous of the children, as the kids corner and face painting station were true hits. Wherever you looked, you were likely to find a ferocious tiger eating chicken tenders or a beautiful butterfly enjoying a taco.
“Wherever you looked, you were likely to find a ferocious tiger eating chicken tenders or a beautiful butterfly enjoying a taco.”
Despite a relatively family-friendly atmosphere, in areas that were less congested (i.e. the area on 19th St. surrounding the kiddie corner), it was easier to notice the effect that the festival’s wine slushies and brewery had on adult patrons. Perhaps in hindsight, it would have been a better idea to relocate the beverage tickets and winery to the opposite side of the kiddie area, as adults with very little filter were enjoying the festival in a way not conducive to families. One anonymous student, who stayed in that area because of available seating, reported the festival to be “pretty okay” and “mildly interesting.” Hence, the level of excitement found at the festival definitely varied depending on where you were.
No matter the controversy, the festival was still widely enjoyed. Fiona Porter ‘27 summed this up with her statement, “I loved the festival! It had a very strong feeling of family and community. It was fun to hear the music as well; it was light-hearted and danceable. Also, I loved the diversity within the food options!” Speaking of diversity, one cannot deny the festival was on theme for global foods, as there was a Greek food truck right next to an African stall, which was right next to a venue specializing in crab cakes. Some of the night’s vendors included Take a Taco, Got Chocolate, Cousins Maine Lobster, Sweet Treats, Bang Cookies, Greek Street, Atomic Hogs, Bonjour Creperie, Sherri’s Crabcakes, Danny’s Fine Foods, Bru Daddies (the aforementioned brewery) and many more, like a Puerto Rican stand and classic carnival fare!
“I loved the festival! It had a very strong feeling of family and community. It was fun to hear the music as well; it was light- hearted and danceable. Also, I loved the diversity within the food options!”Fiona Porter ’27
I personally enjoyed a chicken gyro from Greek Street and an Olivia crepe from Bonjour Creperie. The gyro was great (coming from a gyro enthusiast) and the tzatziki was everything I had been missing in life (though in my personal opinion, it could have done with a little more dill). The crepe was also delicious, with rich dark chocolate and strawberries topped with a perfectly subtly sweet whipped cream. I would have preferred the chocolate to be warm, but it was the perfect amount of gooey, so I maintain it was a great dessert. While this was all my stomach could fit, my eyes definitely feasted on the other delicious options at the festival. What particularly stood out was the Atomic Hog Barbecue, which had a full rig setup with all the necessities for low and slow cooking. It was truly impressive, and the fact that they make their own sauces (of which there are seven (seven!) varieties) was truly the cherry on top.
As mentioned by Porter, food was not the only form of entertainment available. Several bands performed live throughout the day, including ‘80s rock tribute band Video Daze, indie-alt band We’re from Antarctica, multi-genre band The BC Combo and all-female high-energy band GirlCrue. While I wasn’t able to witness all the performances, I did have the pleasure of watching GirlCrue. Despite some microphone feedback, the concert was engaging and you could spot Muhlenberg students dancing in the crowd. They covered a lot of the greats, like Blondie and The Rolling Stones. It was definitely packed during their performance, as walking around the stage became a contact sport, however, it was warranted, as the crowd was very engaged by their enthusiastic performance.
To say that the festival was well-stocked would be an understatement, however, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. When asked what they would love to see next year, some Muhlenberg students requested Eastern European food, Thai food and pizza.
All in all, the festival received a huge turnout and rightfully so. The food was amazingly diverse and delicious, and, despite some slight logistical issues, it was a great atmosphere for people from all walks of life. One can hope that the festival will return next year, hopefully with even more global foods to sample!