Yesterday I spent ten dollars on half a biscuit, and also a cracker. Would you like to see what a ten dollar biscuit half, with a side of cracker, looks like?
That biscuit was prepared by the staff of Kroger, and was decent. It had apple jelly on top with a slice of Manchego cheese, and the parmesan crisp alongside it was topped with a dot of honey and a slice of goat cheese. It made a nice, tasty couple of bites, but it was not worth ten dollars. For ten dollars, I could have purchased all of the components at Kroger myself and assembled more than one plate.
I spent ten dollars because I went to The International Biscuit Festival, which used to be fun but is now terrible. I've been to Biscuit Fest several times, and each time the general idea is the same: it's next to the Farmer's Market:
in a kind of small, already crowded area. You pay ten dollars for a ticket, which lets you taste five biscuits and then vote on one:
and yesterday was the first time in the several years that I have attended the Biscuit Festival that I did not vote on a favorite.
I didn't feel like I should when I was only able to taste one biscuit.
The biscuit tasting opened at 9 AM. In past years, as Biscuit Fest has slowly become more crowded, 9 AM has been a terrible crush of people and fighting to taste any biscuit. While tasting was still possible, it was annoying, so this year I decided to get there between 10 and 11 AM. This was also a horrible mistake, because all of the people that started tasting at 9 AM were still there, trying to taste biscuits. They were all in line:
Lines that stretched for over a block, per booth. The average line, based on talking to people waiting in four of them, was taking 45 minutes to an hour. Granted, it was Saturday and I didn't really have any plans, but that didn't mean I wanted to wait in line for five hours to eat five biscuits. I might not have gotten five, anyway. By the time I got there, some of the vendors had already run out of biscuits, which meant even more people clustering into the smaller number of remaining lines. I only got the one biscuit I did get to taste because I ran into a friend who told me there was a booth past one of the lines and around a corner, and most people hadn't fought through the crowds far enough to find it.
The sad truth is that the Biscuit Festival has outgrown its present location. When I went in 2013 you could walk up and down the rows. You could talk to people. You weren't at risk of being trampled by crowds or ground to death beneath the wheels of a doublewide baby stroller. This is no longer the case. The Biscuit Festival is now a nightmarish hellscape of crowds, shoving, and the smell of flour, with long lines and the claustrophobic crush of too many people jammed into narrow streets.
I won't go again if it doesn't change, and that saddens me, because I love living in a city with festivals and a food scene and fun.
I just don't love crowds.