Lotus Festival Offers Locally-Crafted Street Food

Bloomington’s biggest block party is about to get started and Bloomingfoods will be there to feed the hungry masses.

Bloomingfoods and Lotus World Music and Arts Festival: the two names are practically synonymous. Each year when Lotus brings musicians and artists from around the world to Bloomington, Bloomingfoods is always there to ensure that along with the high quality art and entertainment there is also high quality food.

This year, festival-goers can look forward to a variety of edibles dished out from tents and food stands throughout the festival, which runs from September 25-29. Bloomingfoods Managing Chef Dan Borders said the menus this year are based on the theme of street food from around the world. Kai Bookwalter, Bloomingfoods Deli Merchandiser, said although the menu has not yet been finalized she and the food service team consider a lot of variables when deciding what to serve. Everything from dietary concerns to audience demographics is taken into account during planning. Bookwalter said though the months-long planning process is taxing, the work is something she enjoys every year.

This year, Bloomingfoods is again serving food during the free events offered on Saturday at Waldron, Hill, and Buskirk Park (Third Street Park). Bloomingfoods Service Coordinator and Elm Heights  Location Manager Meg Torrence said the co-op will again be partnering with Susan Bright and Gregg Rago, co-owners of Nick's English Hut, to provide grilled items.

Marketing and Communications Director for Lotus Festival LuAnne Holladay said Bloomingfoods has been an integral part of Lotus Festival since the beginning.

“Bloomingfoods has made it easy for festival-goers and performing artists to get good food and drink as part of their Lotus experience—food that isn't shipped in from far away, or chain-produced,” Holladay said. She said together, Lotus and Bloomingfoods have crafted something that celebrates more than music and art.

“Lotus and Bloomingfoods worked shoulder to shoulder to create a festival that wasn't just about world music, but about why Bloomington was a great place to live,” she said.

Bloomingfoods General Manager George Huntington said the co-op’s work with Lotus directly relates to the 7th Cooperative Principle “Concern for Community” and helps achieve the organization’s goals. “Part of what we see our mission as is not only selling groceries but also reinvesting in the community and helping to enhance the quality of life in Bloomington, Indiana and South Central Indiana,” Huntington said. He said the co-op’s involvement has expanded along with the festival.

“As Lotus has grown to encompass multiple outdoor venues, we have grown with the festival,” he said. Huntington added that Bloomingfoods is now responsible for feeding not only festival-goers but the artists themselves. “[Lotus Festival organizers] have a lot of faith in our ability to come up with things that would appeal to a vast array of different palates,” Huntington said, adding this is a big source of pride for Bloomingfoods.

Holladay said Bloomingfoods has been a pillar of stability in Lotus Festival’s growth. “It takes a lot of work from both Bloomingfoods and Lotus planning teams to bring the logistics in line,” Holladay said. ”We've been through storms, and heat, and power outages, and performing artists who show up late and need to be fed, and Bloomingfoods’ stalwart staff has been with us.”

Tickets for Lotus Festival, which this year features 31 musical acts, are on sale at Bloomingfoods East, Kirkwood, Near West Side, and Elm Heights locations as well as at lotusfest.org and the Buskirk-Chumley Box Office.