Independents' Day: Local food & beer a bigger focus

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

The city's weekend-long celebration to independent culture is carving out even more space this year for local food and drink. Think a street overrun with some of the city's best food trucks, pop-up restaurants inside shipping containers, lots of local beer (and a few spirits) flowing from taps, and a pig-centric cooking competition.

Independents' Day kicks off of Friday in Franklinton-a move that allowed the event to grow and spread out, says Shelley Mann, who is in charge of the food at the annual festival.

One big addition is what they're calling Shipping Container Park. "We're ordering shipping railway containers and groups are turning them into different things," Mann says. Expect local boutiques and restaurants to set up shop inside the 40-foot containers. "Everyone's getting a blank shipping container. I think it will be interesting to see what they do with it."

Here's a quick look at the food and drink side of the festival:

Franklinton Street Food Fair: Some of the city's best food trucks and carts will be open for lunch, dinner and dessert, parked on Town Street. On site will be Ajumama, Aromaku, Explorers' Club, Island Noodles, Jeni's, J-Pops, Kenny's Meat Wagon, Mikey's Late Night Slice, Paddy Wagon, Pattycake Bakery, Teodora's Kitchen and Tortilla.

Pop-up Eateries: The Hilton's Gallerie Bar & Bistro will setup a pop-up inside a container, serving an abbreviated menu. On the menu will be the Ohio Burger, as well as other select menu items. Gallerie's temporary dining room will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday.

Two Caterers will offer sensory deprivation dining experience inside a pitch-black shipping container (i.e., food tasting with the lights turned off). "You won't be able to see what you are eating, just taste it," Mann says.

Local Drink Land: Sip on some of Columbus' best brews and spirits, including Actual Brewing, Seventh Son Brewing Co., Middle West Spirits, Watershed Distillery, cocktails from Brothers Drake Meadery and more. "We had Local Drink Land last year, and last year it was kind of tucked away. This year, it's going to be a much bigger focus. It's going to be right at the center of the festival," Mann says, adding they've asked breweries to bring some of their lower gravity beers, too.

Battle of the Pig: On Saturday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. in the Shipping Container Park, chefs Bill Glover of Gallerie and Marcus Meacham of Kraft House No. 5 will fight to be dubbed king of the pig. Each chef will prepare a series of pork-centric dishes using local Berkshire pork from Saddleberk Farms as well as ingredients from North Market.

"Each chef is going to try to incorporate pork into three courses that they will prepare," Mann says, adding the chefs were chosen because of their history competing in pork-centric competitions. Meacham competed in the pork category at World Food Championships last year; while Glover has represented Columbus in the Ohio Pork Association cooking competition. "It's going to be a fun cooking competition happening in the middle of the festival. We're hoping people will stop and watch. It should be on view while you're waiting in line for beer."