Mitten List: The National Asparagus Festival

June 12, 2014


I almost didn’t go to the National Asparagus Festival this weekend.

It was a two-hour drive away.

I had a stack of papers to grade.

But, most of all, I was worried that it wouldn’t be, well, asparagussy enough.

I know this may not seem like a valid concern. I mean, it is an asparagus festival. And it isn’t just any asparagus festival. It’s the National Asparagus Festival. That has to count for something, right?

But, you see, I’ve had more than my fair share of festival disappointments lately.

There was the pirate festival last year which was surprisingly un-piratey. Other than a few teenage girls in those cheap, plastic, slutty pirate costumes, hardly anyone was dressed up. And there weren’t any pirate-themed food items for sale at all. Not even an odd rum ball or two.

There was the St. Patrick’s Day parade that I went to this year, which had an entire band of Vikings but not a single Irish dancer.

And then there was the corn festival I went to last summer, where I had to wait in line for forty-five minutes to get an ear of corn because there was only one stand selling the stuff.

At a corn festival!

You’d think they’d just be throwing ears of corn at the crowd. (Okay, in all honesty, there was one guy on a tractor who was throwing corn at the crowd, but he was being kind of stingy about it, and I’m still more that a bit bitter than I didn’t get one.)


Over here, Mr. Corn Thrower! I want one!

Despite my concerns, I loaded myself into my car on Saturday and drove all the way to the home of the National Asparagus Festival, Hart, Michigan, an adorable little town where there is exactly one street light and all the street signs are decorated with hearts.


Unfortunately, I arrived in town about half an hour too late for the big morning event: a tour of a local asparagus farm. I’m still pretty bummed about that. I mean, that may have been my one big chance in life to meet the asparagus farmer of my dreams, and I blew it. I may never forgive myself.

Luckily, I did make it into town in time for the Asparagus Food Show, where for a mere five dollars I got to pile up a plate full of mini-samples of everything from pickled asparagus to an asparagus cupcake.



Where have you been all my life, asparagus cupcake?

After stuffing myself full of asparagus food items, I decided to take a little walking tour of Hart. This took me all of ten minutes. But I assure you it was ten very asparagussy minutes.

First, I stopped by the National Asparagus Festival Information Booth, where they sold everything from asparagus-themed sweatshirts.


To asparagus-themed bumper stickers.


I picked up a brochure, which  assured me all roads in Michigan lead to asparagus.


Then I poked  around in a few shops, where I discovered it’s possible the one thing my life has truly been missing (besides, you know, hot asparagus farmers) is an antique asparagus serving dish.


I need THIS. Thank you.

Of course, in addition to the asparagus-themed clothing and dishware, it was also possible to buy actual asparagus — fresh from the field or pasture or bog or wherever it is that they grow asparagus.

And it wasn’t your wimpy, skinny grocery store asparagus — this stuff was for real.


Some serious-looking asparagus.

My tour of Hart had definitely stirred up a bit of an appetite, so I decided it was time to move on to the carnival food portion of my day.

There were the usual vendors selling kettle corn and candy apples and elephant ears. But this was simply not asparagussy enough for me.

Luckily, there was a truck selling something called a “West Michigan Weiner,” which was described as an asparagus and cheese brat with pickled asparagus on top.

So, of course, I had to have that.


Look! There’s asparagus on my hotdog!

Then I settled on to a street curb and waited for the day’s big event: the National Asparagus Festival “Royale Parade.”

The parade featured your usual selection of fire trucks, old-timey cars and lei-wearing alpacas.


There was, of course, an Asparagus Queen.


And one brave soul dressed as a human asparagus.


There were also a number of tractors. Possibly asparagus-farming tractors. Who knows? (Well, actually, I bet all those people who made it to the farm tour would know. Lucky jerks and their new asparagus-farming knowledge!)


It was a nice parade, if not particularly asparagussy.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting.

Okay, I totally know what I was expecting.

I was expecting a dreamy asparagus farmer to be throwing asparagus into the crowd. And I was expecting for me to catch a whole bouquet of the stuff. And then our eyes would lock, and the asparagus farmer and I would ride off into the sunset on his tractor (or whatever it is they use to farm asparagus), and we’d live happily ever after, eating asparagus


Is that too much to ask?

Once the parade was over and I realized my dreams of free asparagus and true love would never be realized, I settled on the next best thing.


Yes, this is exactly what you think it is. And it was DELICIOUS.

Because who needs love when you have deep-fried asparagus?

Have you ever gone to a fruit or vegetable-themed festival? Was it fruity or vegetabley enough for you?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 12, 2014 at 8:57 pm Christy@SweetandSavoring said:

    I love that you went to this- and it was two hours away! There’s a strawberry festival coming up near me that I want to go to- and the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is a huge event every September- I love it! There are so many amazing things you can make with garlic. (I must say, I’ve never knew you could make a cupcake with asparagus…)
    Christy@SweetandSavoring recently posted..Touring the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory

  2. On June 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm Leslie in Oregon said:

    Your dreams are wonderful…they deserve to come true! As for fruit or vegetable-themed festivals I have gone to: many strawberry festivals (in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon), a cranberry festival (in southwestern Washington), a huckle- berry festival (at the foot of Mt. Adams), a pear and apple festival in Hood River, and a cheese festival (in southwestern Oregon). The first and last focused on opportunities to eat and buy, respectively, strawberries and cheese, and the second and third were about all things pear/apple, cranberry and huckleberry (including fabulous lip gloss and soap). None of them disappointed. Now to find a vegetable-themed festival!

  3. On June 13, 2014 at 8:13 pm S said:

    Well if it makes you feel any better, the St. Patricks Day parade in Dublin Ireland this year had Vikings but no Irish dancers either (but plenty of marching bands from the states, oddly enough….)

  4. On June 13, 2014 at 11:29 pm Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    You make Michigan seem like an interesting place to live 😉
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Street Food of Amsterdam

  5. On June 14, 2014 at 6:17 am Naomi said:

    So what was that kid doing to the human asparagus??
    Naomi recently posted..Equipment review – lessons learnt from a trip through Java

    • On June 22, 2014 at 11:05 am Sally said:

      No idea. He kept tugging on the Human Asparagus’ hand and the Asparagus was trying to get away… I’m not sure if he was seriously trying to get away or they were just playing some game. Either way, everyone in the audience was laughing.

  6. On June 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm Carmen said:

    Yummmm, deep fried asparagus. Drool
    Carmen recently posted..Paladar 1900: Arequipa, Peru

  7. On June 14, 2014 at 7:03 pm Alouise said:

    This looks like such a fun and tasty event.
    Alouise recently posted..The Theatrics of Miniature World in Victoria

  8. On June 15, 2014 at 7:26 pm Jenni said:

    I went to the Maui Onion Festival in May. All the food vendors had onions featured in their dishes (pancit with onion, kalua pork with onion, etc). However, the raw onion eating contest was the highlight. The winner got a big lei made out of….you guessed it, onions!
    Jenni recently posted..How To Catch Your Haggis – Two Tales of Scotland

  9. On June 16, 2014 at 10:13 am Angie said:

    Good thing you went anyway! It looks like there were a lot of asparagus around and that is always a good thing. I’m a bit jealous of the fried asparagus!

  10. On June 25, 2014 at 10:30 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    I kinda really want to go to this festival. I mean, deep-fried asparagus, an asparagus cupcake, AND an asparagus queen? Eat your Hart out. Get it? Although I think I too would be a bit disappointed had there not been any hunky asparagus farmer to whisk me away.

    In answer to your question, I’ve never been to a fruit or vegetable themed festival, although several towns in Korea boast that they’re the home of the best garlic/cucumber/ginseng etc. in Korea. I may have to return one day to investigate. Also there’s Imsil, the cheese village. Yeah, I NEED to return.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..All The Things I Ate In Hong Kong

  11. On June 28, 2014 at 8:12 pm Lindsay said:

    This is a great post — I love these veggie specific festivals! I went to a Zucchini Festival recently and had a great time!

  12. On August 16, 2014 at 4:16 am Rai said:

    Ever been to a cheese-rolling festival? It originated in Gloucestershire, England. They chuck a massive wheel of cheese down a steep hill and everyone has to chase after it – the winner gets the cheese. It sounds easy but it can result in broken bones! It’s a great spectator event, and of course, there is plenty of cheese sampling to keep the cheese lover happy.

  13. On September 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm Ceri said:

    And this is exactly why I want to travel around the states – food themed festivals. I feel like I’m missing out big time.
    Ceri recently posted..My Friend Asked Me Why I Stopped Writing. So I Told Her …


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