Empire Asparagus Festival – Third Weekend in May

empire asparagus festival 2010Empire Asparagus Festival - Third Weekend in MayThe Annual Empire Asparagus Festival will be held this weekend (May 18-20, 2018) and features a slew of asparagus-themed events!

Friday, May 18th

7-10 pm Live music from Jack Pine, Pig Roast & FISH BOIL!
$5 Entrance & Dance to Jack Pine
Old Fashioned Fish Boil $16 & Pulled Pork Sandwich with the fixings $12

Saturday, May 19th

10 am Kick Yer Ass-paragus 5K Fun Run/Walk
Registration for the runs starts at 9 am at Empire Public Beach. Entry fee for walkers and kids 17 and younger is $25, includes a t-shirt. Runners enjoy free entry to the festival with run number PLUS a free drink ticket & customized tech shirt, $40.
Register online!

12 pm Asparagus Recipe Contest Asparagus Cook-Off
Cash Prizes! $100 for the people’s choice winner and $50 for the second prize.

1-4 pm Empire Area Museum open

2 pm Ode to the Asparagus Poetry Contest
Check out the plans for the Glen Lake Library expansion!

12-5 pm Northwoods Soda Children’s Bar Open
12-10 pm Food & Beer Tent

Music & Entertainment Schedule

12-2 pm Keith Scott Blues Guitarist
2-4 pm Cherrylife Productions “Miss Asparagus on Stilts”
2-3:30 pm Andre Villoch
3:30 pm Children’s Magic Show with Magician Gordon Russ
5-7 pm 5th GEAR Band
7:30-10 K.Jones & the Benzie Playboys

Sunday, May 20th

9am-1pm Asparagus Breakfast by The Zonta Club of Leelanau County
$10 at the Empire Township Hall on Front Street

Food Vendors

  • Scalawags Whitefish I Fresh Great Lakes Fish | Downtown Traverse City
  • Norconks Fresh Asparagus
  • Art’s Tavern Glen Arbor
  • Plevas
  • Shipwreck Cafe
  • Rockwich
  • Nepalese Have Another
  • Holiday Hills
  • Mel and Fell
  • The Empire Village Inn
  • Elberto’s Taqueria

Beer, Wine & Mead Vendors

  • St. Ambrose Cellars
  • Right Brain Brewery Asparagus Beer
  • Lake Ann Brewing Co.
  • Left Foot Charley Winery
  • Owen Soft Water
  • …and a selection of Leelanau County Wines

A feature by Susan Bayer Ward titled The Empire Strikes Back… With Asparagus explains:

Empire Asparagus Festival - Third Weekend in MayThere’s a reason Empire touts itself as the apex of asparagus-a vegetable whose short growing season begins in early May and flows into June. The area’s sandy soil, plentitude of water and temperate microclimate-fostered by Lake Michigan, make this the perfect place to nurture wild and farmed asparagus. In fact, Michigan ranks third behind California and Washington as a producer of this commercial crop which garners the state a surprising $29 million annually.

Truth be told, only one local farmer, Harry Norconk, runs a 240-acre asparagus-growing business south of town. But what the heck, this slender green harbinger of spring grows wild all over the place. And while surrounding towns, for years, positioned themselves as prime purveyors of cherries, morel mushrooms and wines, Empire decided to become the Valhalla of that savory veggie-the asparagus.