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Pro-tips for going to the Crave Food +Music Fest

Fayette County PVA and foodie extraordinaire David O’Neil tells us his tips for attending the Crave Food + Music Festival, Aug. 11 and 12 at Masterson Station Park in Lexington.
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Fayette County PVA and foodie extraordinaire David O’Neil tells us his tips for attending the Crave Food + Music Festival, Aug. 11 and 12 at Masterson Station Park in Lexington.

Lexington, here comes the food juggernaut that is Crave.

The two-day food and music festival, which is Saturday and Sunday at Masterson Station Park, features about 50 food vendors, including everything from fine dining to food trucks.

Now in its sixth year, the event lets you sample special tidbits priced at $2, $3 or $5 in a wide array of flavors from barbecue to burgers and much more. Admission is $8, free to ages 10 and younger.

Crave veteran David O’Neill, the Fayette County PVA who also is a big foodie, offered some tips for “hacking” the fest:

Go early and buy tickets ahead of time if you can (unfortunately, the window for presale has closed for this year but there’s always next time.)

Scope out the offerings first, eat second.

And don’t try to eat everything, because you probably can’t.

“I do try a lot of stuff, but not everything,” O’Neill said. “I’m a picky eater but adventurous.”

Participating restaurants this year include Athenian Grill, Azur and Brasabana, Bourbon ‘n’ Toulouse, Bru Burger Bar, City BBQ, Crank & Boom, Edley’s BBQ, Fazoli’s, Fida’s Cafe, Habibi’s Sweets & Pastries, Honnah Lee Bubble Tea, J Gumbo’s, Jasmine Rice, Masala, Mellow Mushroom, Noodles & Co., Mi Pequenia Hacienda, One World Ice Cream, Pasta Garage, Pollo (Louisville), Red Light Kitchen & Lounge, Rolling Oven, Salsaritas, Sav’s Chill, Sweet Lilu’s (Versailles), Ted’s Montana Grill and Texas de Brazil.

Food trucks and pop-up vendors will include Babz Bistro, Chef Doug’s Gourmet Foods, Eddie’s Roasted Corn, Go Go Burger, Hogfather’s BBQ & Catering, Hunger Games Grill, KY Strong BBQ, Kona Ice, Mimi’s Southern Style Cooking, Mister Softee, Old Kentucky Kettle Corn, Rico’s Empanadas, Wilson’s Family Catering and more.

New this year: Masala, ACA Cakes, Sugarmomma’s, Thea’s Bass & Biddy, Louisiana Passion Catering and Rayann’s Popcorn Co.

Looking for vegetarian or vegan options? Try Athenian Grill, Bru Burger Bar (really), Chef Doug’s, J Gumbo’s, Jasmine Rice, Noodles & Co., Red Light Kitchen & Lounge and Stella’s Kentucky Deli.

Gluten-free options also are available.

Food isn’t the only thing on tap: Two Crave bars will feature beer on draft and in cans, including West Sixth, plus cocktails, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. Beer will be $5-$8; cocktails and wine, $7-$10.

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This year, Crave bars will accept cash and credit cards as well as Crave Bucks for beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Sarah Jane Sanders

To enjoy the food goodies, you need “Crave Bucks,” which will be available at the ticket office. Cash and credit cards as well as Crave Bucks will be accepted at the bars this year.

A Smiley Pete production, the festival also features live music and kids activities. Bring low-back folding or camp chairs and blankets for seating.

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Not allowed: Picnic baskets, drink containers except clear plastic bottles, and pets.

Besides the food, the drinks and the music, Crave also features a lineup of food performances: On Saturday chef Jeremy Ashby will talk Cooking with Hemp; there will be a hemp foods cook-off with Friends of Hemp; and Oliver Winn of Parlay Social will demonstrate Happy Hour Cocktails. The food stage will be hosted by “Next Food Network Star” winner Jason Smith of Grayson, who will do a meet and greet at 6 p.m.

We caught up with The Food Network’s Jason Smith before he got going hosting the cooking stage at the Crave Food + Music Fest.

On Sunday, the food performances will include a Bourbon and Bacon Brunch demo with Allison Davis of Wild Thyme Cooking, “All Roads Lead to Tacos Mystery Basket” with Brasabana, Back-to-School Snacks and Smoothies with Nutritious Kate and the Bluegrass Burger Battle from 4 to 5 p.m.