Recently, Baltimore restaurant industry news has been a bit gloomy, with announcements of restaurants–even beloved ones–shutting their doors.
But not all Charm City restaurant news is bad these days. In early June, over a dozen locally owned restaurants will band together to host Baltimore’s third annual Feastival, a fun day of food, drinks and waterside revelry for a great cause: to raise money to fight cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes lung infections.
“Feastival is one of my favorite events because you get to spend the entire day eating and drinking with friends and learning about CF in a fun, interactive way, in an awesome space,” says Katie Rose Broadhurst, a cystic fibrosis patient and ambassador for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Maryland.
This year’s Feastival takes place June 9, starting at noon at Sandlot Baltimore. This is the first year the event will be held at Sandlot; in past years, it was along the water in Harbor East. Participating restaurants, bars and breweries will set up shop throughout Sandlot, offering bites and drinks to guests, who will also get to chat with some of the city’s best chefs, restaurant owners, brewers, distillers and bartenders.
The restaurant lineup is a great one, including spots like Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks, which has been part of the event since its first year, as well as newcomers like Chez Hugo Bistro, which just opened this past February. Other participants include Ampersea, Blue Pit BBQ, The Charmery, Cosima, Ekiben, Full Circle Doughnuts, Gunther & Co., Honeygrow, La Food Marketa, Minnow, Sandlot, Stall 11 and Wit & Wisdom.
For Josh Hershkovitz, co-owner of Hersh’s, the decision to participate in Feastival is a no-brainer.
“It’s a great cause to work with. I think what’s good about this is that CF is a relatively small disease,” he says. Diseases with larger patient populations often get more attention from donors, Hershkovitz notes, but Feastival capitalizes on the popularity of chefs and local restaurants to shine a light on the disease.
Treatment for cystic fibrosis has come a long way since Broadhurst was first diagnosed at 6 months old.
“My doctors gave my parents a pamphlet and said, ‘Prepare yourself, she might not make it out of kindergarten,'” she says.
In 1962, average life expectancy for a child with the disease was 10; today it is 37. In 1989, research funded in part by CFF identified the discovery of the CF gene, a breakthrough that has led to the development of numerous treatments, including, within the past several years, drugs that treat the root cause of the disease.
“Because there are only 30,000 people in the U.S. with CF, drug companies aren’t taking the big risks that start off treatments,” explains Broadhurst. “So it’s events like Feastival that fund research and development of treatments. Once we find something successful, the big companies will put their money behind it.
“CFF has funded the research that has gotten us from, ‘Your daughter won’t make it through kindergarten,’ to, ‘Take this pill and you won’t have scarring on your lungs,’–a med you can take and go about your day.”
As a patient, Broadhurst is grateful events like Feastival, such as a “beef and beer” in 1993 that helped her get a Monarch vest, a tool that helps clear her airway.
Feastival is also a great time for participating chefs, too.
“It’s a great excuse to come up with something new and get out there. We get to do what we love,” says Hershkovitz.
This year, the Hersh’s contribution to Feastival will likely be something bright that incorporates seasonal ingredients, like a stuffed focaccia with griddled bread with ricotta, pickled fennel and Marcona almonds.
In addition to bites from local restaurants, mixologists from the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild will be on hand serving drinks and mixing up specialty cocktails created with donations from the event’s sponsors, which include Tito’s Vodka, Sagamore Spirit Rye, Belle Isle Moonshine, Lyon Distilling, Moet & Chandon, Tequila Partida and Sandy Bottom rum. Ceremony Coffee Roasters and B.C. Brewery are also participating.
Feastival takes place Saturday, June 9, starting at noon. All-inclusive tickets are $100 for one or $175 for two. For more information, visit feastivalbaltimore.com
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