Sunday, August 06, 2006
What the heck is "Spiedie Fest"??
What in the world is "Spiedie Fest," you ask? Nothing short of the biggest even to hit the Southern Tier of New York each summer. In a county of 200,000 people, with neighboring counties having an even smaller population, Spiedie Fest attracts something like 100,000 people over the course of 3 days.
Let me back up- a "spiedie" is just about the only thing (sadly) that Binghamton can still claim bragging rights about "inventing." It is really just a marinated meat sandwich. Basically, you marinate some lamb, chicken, beef, whatever, grill it on a stick, throw it into some fresh Italian bread and - voila!- behold the spiedie. Grilled onions and peppers are optional.
So about 20 years ago, some of the local spiedie restaurants got together and decided to have essentially a "spiedie cook-off" in a huge park along the Chenango River. Today, it is technically "Spiedie Fest and Ballooon Rally" since there are a ton of balloons of all shapes and themes that also take part. I spent 3 hours wandering around the park on Saturday and was amazed at how many people were there, how many food and craft booths, balloons taking off, etc.
So, there you have it, a "taste," as it were, of Binghamton's local culture- we don't have much of it, so I'm glad that 100,000 people came out to witness it. Oh, and did I mention that a bunch of the American Idol runner-ups performed, as well as a bunch of people I've never heard of? That's BIG NAME TALENT around these parts!
p.s. If you want to see what the locals think about who has the best spiedies in town, here is a link to a discussion on the good ol' "BC Voice" online posting board.