Last year, St. Paul’s Temple of Aaron hosted the first, inaugural CrossRiver Kosherfest. It featured 30 mostly local vendors and one kosher BBQ truck from Chicago that was easily the main event. Over 800 people attended last year’s event, making it a tremendous success and giving Rabbi Jeremy Fine the impetus for CrossRiver Kosherfest 2, taking place this Sunday, January 10 at Temple of Aaron.
This year’s event promises to be bigger, and dare we say, better.
Let’s back up a bit and talk about the kosher food industry. Some estimate that the kosher food business generates $13 billion in annual revenue, and it continues to grow. Of course, American Jews form the base, but it’s non-Jews who are really responsible for the steady growth. Whether it’s the belief that these foods are “safer” or the ever-expanding variety of products, the kosher food industry is booming.
Also booming: the event itself. Not only is the vendor list up to 45 kosher purveyors, but more national brands will be participating this year.
Returning to the CrossRiver Kosherfest on Sunday is Rita’s Italian Ice, a Pennsylvania-based franchise with over 600 locations throughout the country. While Italian ices may be new to some Minnesotans, this East Coaster gladly schleps to Eagan for a taste of home. And frankly, I won’t care that on January 10 the ices may be warmer than the air temperature outside.
New this year to the fest is Beanfield’s Snacks, a national brand offering a line of chips made from beans and rice that are not just Kosher, but also gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan. The chips come in seven varieties and have more fiber and protein than most other chips while being lower in fat.
What every good chip needs is a good beer to wash it all down. So I’m happy to report that the most Jewish of beers companies, He’Brew, will be one of this year’s rookie vendors. He’Brew or The Chosen Beer comes from the Schmaltz Brewing Company in New York.
And of course, Milt’s Barbeque For The Perplexed will once again be driving up from Chicago to show off their stuff. Folks, it’s legit BBQ, and it is really so good. Be prepared to get in line and get your BBQ on.
In addition to the sampling of kosher foods and drinks, some of our awesome young rabbis are leading seminars in Kashrut and keeping Kosher. Hey, maybe you’ll learn something while stuffing your face with a Bogart’s Doughnut?
It wouldn’t be a Rabbi Fine signature event without a sports connection, though, right? Headlining the CrossRiver Kosherfest this year is the Minnesota Twins’ resident mensch – T.C. Bear. Fun fact: T.C. enjoys his salmon smoked sliced thin on a toasted everything bagel with a little red onion and a shmear.
Joining T.C. will be former Minnesota Vikings tight end Brent Novoselsky who lays claim to one of the most important touchdowns in team history. Of course, that game took place on Christmas in 1989 and he really had nothing better to do that day.
Rabbi Fine’s favorite new feature will be the interactive shuk. There you can:
- Find ways to engage by purchasing Mishloah Manot
- Learn about Kashrut at camp
- Enjoy exclusive samples and vendor tastes
- Join an Israeli wine-of-the-month club
- Participate in kids activities
- Get autographs and photos with former Major League All-Star Richie Scheinblum
Scheinblum may not have played for a local team in his 10-year career, but in September of 1972 he wore a black armband in memory of the Israelis killed during the Munich Massacre. Koufax gets a lot of credit for his World Series no-show in 1965, but Scheinblum’s chutzpah was pretty impressive. Random fun fact: Richie Scheinblum went to college with my mom.
So there you have it – CrossRiver Kosherfest 2, BBQ, Brews and T.C. Bear. I’ll be there. TCJewfolk will be there. What more could you want?
CrossRiver Kosher Fest in January 10, from 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul. Entry fees are $10 for children (includes kids’ meal) $15 for adults.