forkbig.jpgJust in from Nashville, I heard about the weekend’s Great American Food & Music Festiva disaster. Apparently it was epic. Which makes me feel a whole lot less upset that I couldn’t go. But a bit sad nonetheless…

Here’s the long and short of it: A bunch of foodie folks decided to bring great food finds from around the nation to Shoreline Amphitheater. On the list…

  • Katz’s Deli, pastrami sandwiches (New York)
  • Pink’s Hot Dogs, chili dogs (Los Angeles)
  • Tony Luke’s, cheesesteaks (Philadelphia)
  • Barney Greengrass, bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese (New York)
  • Southside Market & Barbecue (Elgin, Texas)
  • Graeter’s Ice Cream (Cincinnati)
  • Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo chicken wings (Buffalo, New York)
  • Junior’s,cheesecake (Brooklyn)
  • Zingerman’s Deli, curating (ha ha) the ultimate bacon plate (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Understandably, people got pretty stoked about the lineup and paid up to $500 per ticket to attend the eat-fest, which also featured Food Network celebs Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri along with music (whatever, just bring on the food). Thousands showed up (including something like 8,000 who had special bracelets to jump long food lines) and that’s when the trouble began.

Apparently folks were waiting in lines for hours just to get in, the bracelets didn’t work, some of the vendors didn’t have power and/or quickly ran out of food and tempers starting flaring. Foodies don’t tend to take kindly to being kept from their pastrami and Pinks weenies.

The Twittersphere and blogosphere exploded. The San Jose Mercury news picked up the story. And at this point there are mea culpas happening all over the place, as well as refunds for some. You can read through a bevy of blasts on the seriouseats.com site (founder Ed Levine was an organizer of the festival).

Can’t get enough of the train wreck? Here’s Ed’s sort-of apology that made folks even madder.

Here’s the thing, though…Thousands showed up. Thousands. In this crap economy. Why? People are dying for this kind of gastronomical Candyland. It’s cheap(ish) entertainment. So, okay it was a bit of a disaster out of the gate. The good news is that many of us are willing to pay for food experiences that might otherwise be out of reach (ie: going to Brooklyn for cheesecake or LA for a hot dog). Hopefully goodwill toward the folks who tried to put on this event will prevail after the immediate frustration subsides.