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LA fall food festivals feature fried chicken vendors, vegan spin on Oktoberfest

(Isabella Lee/Daily Bruin)

By Vivian Xu and Zinnia Finn

Sept. 18, 2021 9:16 a.m.

Despite Los Angeles’ everlasting sun, autumn is in the air and students are returning to campus. The city’s calendar is dotted with metropolitan markets and snack stands that are offering everything from vegan eats to sprinkled treats – luring in locals and visitors alike.

Bundle up and keep reading for the Daily Bruin’s picks of LA food festivals this fall.

[Related: Restaurant review: Shokugeki BBQ features diverse, affordable Asian cuisine in Westwood]

Vegtoberfest LA

Tradition gets a SoCal twist with Vegtoberfest LA.

Substituting bratwurst for plant-based fare, the annual vegan festival in Hawthorne, California, is occupying Common Space Brewery this fall. From noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, guests can register for free to grab plates and pints from a plethora of local vendors situated inside the venue’s converted warehouse and outdoor picnic area. Event host The Plant Base LA welcomes every age and species, including children, adults and dogs.

Despite kilometers of distance, Vegtoberfest still plans to grow from its roots. The age-old Bavarian celebration, Oktoberfest, is its original namesake and blueprint, which historically incorporates an atmosphere of celebration alongside a feast. Its LA counterpart honors tradition with similar elements, planning to offer German dishes and local craft brews.

Beyond food, the festival continues to focus on plant-based fun. The afternoon is interspersed with art and jewelry stalls and set to a background of boisterous oompah music. S4X, a saxophone quartet known for its video game and movie arrangements, plans to provide the spunky soundtrack live.

This year, a plane ticket isn’t needed to join the festivities.

– Zinnia Finn

Smorgasburg Fried Chicken Day

A fried chicken festival is the perfect place to feel peckish.

On Oct. 23, customers can cross the road to Arcadia, California, and feast on the other side. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Santa Anita Park will be crowded with LA’s prime fried chicken vendors, serving up freshly cooked grub right beside the racetrack. Live music will add to the upbeat atmosphere, with greenery dotting the grounds beyond the bandstands.

The festival is organized by Smorgasburg LA, a weekly LA market known for its plethora of vendors and food options. By contrast, this venture is more specialized and plans to spotlight chicken with loaded sandwiches and golden fried strips. Beer will also be offered, an addition which capitalizes on the tried and true pairing of grease and grain.

Herding in the menagerie, the event sidelines a horse-racing track, with betting vouchers available alongside all ticket purchases. Presale packages, which include alcohol, are only sold to patrons over 21, but day-of walk-ups are free for all to enjoy.

Among the excitement, it’s impossible to be a naysayer.

– Zinnia Finn

[Related: Restaurant review: Alfred Coffee brings original brews but steep prices to Westwood]

Urban Foodie Experience

There’s no trickery behind the treats at Urban Foodie Experience.

In its first outdoor market since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is ready to welcome foodies back this Halloween with a spook. On Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Carson Community Center, attendees can dive into cultural cuisine sold by minority-owned businesses.

Previously, vendors such as Mussels & Pearls, Bred’s Nashville Hot Chicken and Pucker Up Lemonade Company have all been featured at the festival. With past offerings ranging from elotes and Thai-style oysters to spicy Southern fried chicken sandwiches, attendees should prepare for a smorgasbord of selections.

Aside from the food itself, guests with kids can indulge in child-friendly entertainment such as raffles and games. Preparing foodies for a lively evening of Halloween celebrations the next day, this Halloween market is offering everything needed to fuel up before the spooky holiday.

So bring your boo and get ready to feast.

– Vivian Xu

Donut Fest LA

Serving desserts galore, Donut Fest LA is sprinkling on the fun.

Located in the heart of downtown LA, the festival is calling all doughnut lovers for a day of sugary sweets Nov. 14 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Though the event isn’t free, guests of drinking age are given a beer ticket to wash down the dough, with alternative beverages such as coffee also available.

Each station will serve up its own samples, ranging from a bite-sized nugget to a full doughnut. For those who would like to try their hand at a little competition, a doughnut eating contest is open for entry, while others can snap memories in the photo booth. Guests who opt to upgrade to a VIP ticket can also enter the raffle, in addition to taking home a Sweet ‘n’ Goody Bag.

After a long day of sampling, each attendee is free to crown the best doughnut of the day using the voting ballot that comes with their ticket. And before they leave, participants can also purchase some sweet treats for the road.

The only thing left to do afterward is ride out that sugar high.

– Vivian Xu

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Vivian Xu | Arts editor
Xu is the 2021-2022 Arts editor. She previously served as the music | fine arts editor from 2020-2021 and was an Arts reporter from 2019-2020. She is a third-year neuroscience student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Xu is the 2021-2022 Arts editor. She previously served as the music | fine arts editor from 2020-2021 and was an Arts reporter from 2019-2020. She is a third-year neuroscience student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Zinnia Finn | Lifestyle editor
Finn is the 2021-2022 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts columnist and reporter from 2020-2021 and was a member of PRIME’s first intern class. She is a third-year neuroscience student from San Francisco, California.
Finn is the 2021-2022 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts columnist and reporter from 2020-2021 and was a member of PRIME’s first intern class. She is a third-year neuroscience student from San Francisco, California.
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