A Taste of Colorado brings the flavor this weekend

37th annual food and music fest will take over Civic Center Park for Labor Day weekend

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A Taste of Colorado returns to Civic Center Park in downtown Denver for another Labor Day weekend, bringing with it 48 different food trucks and vendors and thousands of hungry mouths.

The annual food festival begins Aug. 31 and finishes Sept. 2 The festival is free to enter and open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, and from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m on Sept. 2. This will be the 37th annual A Taste of Colorado festival.

More than 500,000 people turned out throughout the long weekend last year. It is the largest food festival with free admission in the state. In addition to the 48 food vendors will be almost 200 retail vendors, a Kids Zone with arts, crafts and a children’s entertainment stage.

The event began in 1983 to bring people together through food and music. Now, the festival is bigger than ever. USA Today ranked A Taste of Colorado No. 4 on its 2019 list of Best General Food Festivals.

KC and the Sunshine Band will headline the festival’s first night Aug. 31, along with Kool and The Gang and Grand Funk Railroad. Then Sept. 1 will be a day for country fans with Dwight Yoakam and Remus Tucker headlining. Monday will have a host of contemporary music from Toad the Wet Sprocket, American Idiot, Scott Stapp Voice of Creed and more. A total of 32 live bands and artists will perform. This year’s festival will have a larger main stage.

Cuisines at A Taste of Colorado range in style and flavors, including specialty foods inspired from Mexico, Jamaica, New Orleans and some familiar Colorado signatures. Take a look at three unique foods you’ll see at the festival and the cooks behind them.

For more information, visit ATasteofColorado.com.

Pork shouler steam buns, Hop & Hoe

Zach Stoller owns Hop & Hoe, a food truck specializing in food with farm-to-table ingredients. Stoller is from New York City and moved to Colorado in 2017. Just 10 months into his new business, the former culinary student said he’s excited to receive feedback on one of his specialties: steam buns garnished with pork shoulder, hoisin sauce, pickled red onions and cilantro.

“Denver as a whole isn’t on the food radar as of yet — not as much as (Los Angeles) or New York City — so I feel this festival could give Colorado a lot of traction in the food industry and show what we do as chefs,” Stoller said. “There has been a big influx of people who have come to Colorado, me being one of them, so this could be different than last year just because of that.”

Reggae fusion tacos, Marcia and Joe’s Kitchen

This Jamaican specialty food truck will be serving its famous reggae fusion tacos at A Taste of Colorado — a Jamaican take on the Mexican staple. A choice of jerk chicken, curry chicken, curry shrimp, jerk pork, carne asada or al pastor is served on a flour or corn tortilla. The tacos come in three and are served with a side of cabbage to garnish.

Marcia and Joe’s Kitchen is located in Steamboat Springs and serves braised oxtail, curry goat and chicken, and jerk pork and chicken.

Kalahari chicken wings, A Taste of Soweto

Mpho MaPoulo, of Colorado Springs, wants to introduce the taste of his home country South Africa to Americans with his start-up food business A Taste of Soweto. MaPoulo and his wife, Ocean, hope to have their own food truck come October. Ocean is the chef who makes the specialty stews and kota chicken and rice bowls — “kota” refers to the quarter loaf of bread used as a bowl, traditionally. The MaPoulos offer it over rice as well.

A Taste of Soweto only has five menu items, but, Mpho MaPoulo said, they have adapted over the months to fuse South African tastes with American ones.

One of the five items A Taste of Soweto will be serving up is Kalahari chicken wings — a South African twist on the Buffalo pub classic. The wings are tossed in a coriander-based Kalahari sauce, named after the Kalahari Desert in South Africa.

“It’s a very signature spice in South Africa for the sausage, but we have sort of invented a new food item all together — we use the spice on chicken wings,” MaPoulo said. “The whole idea is to make something recognizable or appealing to a different group of people, like Americans.”

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