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Incredible Food Show canceled; sponsors search for replacement venue

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, hosts a cooking demonstration using locally sourced Kentucky Proud ingredients during the 6th annual Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show at Lexington Center.
Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, hosts a cooking demonstration using locally sourced Kentucky Proud ingredients during the 6th annual Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show at Lexington Center. Herald-Leader

The popular Incredible Food Show will not be returning this fall, and sponsors are seeking a new venue.

“Following a successful seven-year run, which brought a host of celebrity chefs, hundreds of exhibitors, and local and regional chefs to Central Kentucky, it was decided to retire the show on a high note,” Bill Owen, Lexington Center president and CEO, said in a statement after the Herald-Leader inquired.

“The Incredible Food Show gave us the opportunity to make our facilities available to the Kentucky Proud producers and to bring celebrity chefs to Lexington who, along with our local and regional chefs, made the show special,” Owen said. “We appreciate all who attended and exhibited for their support of the show as well as the many sponsors.”

Previous celebrity chef guests included Carla Hall of “The Chew,” Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, Bobby and Jamie Deen, Tyler Florence, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay. Thousands of food fans attended year after year to watch the chef demonstrations and sample new products from hundreds of Kentucky food vendors.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which sponsored the show, is looking for a new venue for the showcase for Kentucky Proud foods.

“We would like to continue the concept,” said Ryan Quarles, agriculture commissioner. “Anytime we can help promote and connect farmers with a local market, we think that’s a win-win situation. ... We’re looking for options for 2017. We tried to work on sponsoring local events this year, as we try to assess and see if it can land somewhere else in Kentucky.”

Shortly after Quarles took office, he found out that the show wouldn’t be happening this year, so the department looked for other ways, including the Food to Fork programs, to promote Kentucky farms and food vendors, he said. So far, 26 applications have been received, with 19 approved. And more are pending.

In May, the department began taking applications from community organizations interested in hosting Food to Fork Kentucky Proud dinners through the fall of 2016 to showcase local agricultural products. Host organizations received funding depending on how many people would be attending the dinner. Up to $3,000 per event was available.

The program proved popular, Quarles said, with more applications than expected.

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