Sun Valley Harvest Festival 

Runs through Sunday, Sept. 22

Harvest time has historically been a big deal for the entire community. In days of yore, everyone would be out working from dawn until dusk to bring in the crops that would see them through winter. After weeks of backbreaking work, tools would be put down and the party would start, with wild celebrations of feasting and bonfires--the country dweller's fireworks.

Though few of us actively participate in the harvest anymore, we're still down for the party, hence the plethora of harvest-oriented festivals that kick off this month. And one of the best ways to jump headfirst into celebrating food (and a fair amount of drink) is the annual Sun Valley Harvest Festival.

The four-day festival runs Thursday, Sept. 19-Sunday, Sept. 22, and fills the Wood River Valley with a full-blown celebration of food--from meeting local food producers and joining a restaurant walk, to watching chefs' cooking demonstrations and swilling martinis and caviar.

Events kick off on Thursday, Sept. 19, with several discussions and panels, but festival favorites begin on Friday, Sept. 20, when a tasting of Idaho wines leads directly into the Restaurant Walk. Unfortunately, the popular event has already sold out, so if you don't have tickets, you'll have to create your own restaurant experience for the night.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, guest chefs will offer demonstrations throughout the day at Dollar Lodge, while the Harvest Marketplace runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the same location. The market will feature food and produce from area producers, as well as some of the latest and greatest kitchen tools you never knew you needed.

Sawtooth Brewery hosts an Oktoberfest celebration from noon-10 p.m. in Ketchum Town Square with live music, traditional German food and, of course, plenty of beer. Admission is free, but you must buy a stein for beer tasting. If you need more excuses to party, the Martini and Caviar Party runs from 5:30-8 p.m. at The Roundhouse. Participants must fork over $125 for the ticket, but that includes a gondola ride to Roundhouse, as well as sturgeon caviar hors d'oeuvres by Sun Valley Company Executive Chef John Murcko and handcrafted cocktails.

More partying can be found at the new 5B Party--boots, beer, bourbon and barbecue at B--featuring barbecue from around the world, live bluegrass and bourbon tastings from 5-8 p.m. Tickets cost $50.

A river guide cooking demo starts off Sunday, Sept. 22, followed by the grand finale, The Grand Tasting from noon-3 p.m. at Dollar Lodge. Ticket holders can sample food from area eateries, sample wines and attend breakout sessions on all sorts of foodie topics throughout the afternoon. Tickets cost $75 for this event.

Those traveling for the festival can take advantage of lodging specials being offered throughout town, so check online for deals.

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