This past Sunday, September 15 marked Chester County’s 40th annual Restaurant Festival held in West Chester along the streets of Gay and Market. The festival has been a town-favorite since it was first held in 1979.
Every year during the second weekend in September, over 50 food vendors line the streets of downtown West Chester serving small dishes of their most popular foods. The entry is free, and the food is reasonably-priced so the guests can sample as much as they’d like. Many of the food vendors are local restaurants, but some businesses make the trip to show off their delicious dishes. This year more than 65 restaurants participated, including Limencello, TacoMar, Buddy’s Burgers, Love Again Local, Gemelli, Yori’s Bakery and many more places in town. Some non-local vendors included Margaret Kuo’s, Rasan Indian, and SouthBound BBQ Company. With such a wide variety of cuisines, there’s definitely something for everyone (and if you’re like me, a lot of somethings)! Along with the food vendors, there were over 100 arts and crafts tents for artists to showcase their works, information booths for companies and businesses, and stages for local bands to do what they love for a friendly, appreciative crowd. There was even a beer and wine garden located on Church Street for guests to relax and enjoy a drink on a perfect summer’s day.
Not only is this a popular event among West Chester University students, but it holds a special place in the hearts of Chester County locals. Junior WCU student Dayna Vacca has lived in West Chester her whole life, and has been coming to all of the town’s annual festivals for as long as she can remember. “I’ve gone to the restaurant festival with my family since I was a little kid and it’s always been one of my favorite memories, but I never looked forward to it the way I do now as a student here,” she says. “There’s nothing better than sharing this town’s great food with great friends. I was so excited to bring them here for the first time when we were freshmen.”
Vacca also shared some of the plates she experienced this year. Her favorite was the infamous chocolate-dipped cheesecake – one of the most popular foods you’ll see people walking around with (along with mountains of freshly-made potato chips, funnel cakes, and ice cream). “The best food always sells out quick, so my friends and I always make sure we get here right on time!” Her best advice was to share dishes among each other, so everyone gets to try as many things as they can.
It’s an amazing experience to share with friends and family, and a great opportunity to sample a variety of the restaurants in town.
The event is usually held from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. on a Sunday. Some vendors run out of their most popular food quick, and lines are long! Your best bet is to arrive early so you have the chance to try all the best foods. If you’ve never been to the Restaurant Festival, don’t hesitate to attend in 2020! It’s an amazing experience to share with friends and family, and a great opportunity to sample a variety of the restaurants in town. Chester County holds many other events as well, such as the Halloween and Christmas parades and the Chili Cook-off, which will take place on Sunday, October 13.
Juliana McKee is a third-year media and culture major with a journalism minor. JM886634@wcupa.edu