On March 21, downtown’s Hemming Park will be filled with local restaurants, coffee roasters, brewers, food artisans and more. Bringing them all together is a festival known as, “GastroFest.”

GastroFest will host tastings from several of Jacksonville’s dining hot spots, including Black Sheep, Ovinté, Tapa That, Corner Taco, MShack, Orsay, Moxie and many more. The goal of the festival is to showcase Jacksonville’s culinary culture to a wider, potentially national, audience.

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GastroFest will use a ticketing system known as, “Taste Tickets.” These tickets are your key to getting great food throughout the festival and will be sold at the event for $1. Most products for sale will be in the three-ticket range, according to the festival organizers. Die-hard Jax foodies can purchase a Four-Star Pass for $45, an all-you-can-eat pass. Five-Star Passes will be for sold for $85 for those who want to eat and drink all they can and receive a swag bag. The passes also grant you access to a VIP bathroom. Think about it.

Tasting sessions will be broken into three time blocks during the event. The blocks will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Be sure to check out the featured vendors for each time slot. Many will rotate and only be featured in one slot, but some will be featured for two or three.

Throughout the day, there will be numerous events occurring in and around Hemming. Expect to find cooking demos, brewing workshops, cupping sessions with Bold Bean, bee-keeping seminars, whiskey tastings, wine tastings, a kid’s education zone, live music and a home-brew competition.

Sweet Pete’s will be hosting a cocktail contest in the evening at their walking-distance location. This is separate from the festival, so, $35 gets you access to the event, food and drinks. The contest will pit some of the city’s elite cocktail geniuses against each other. Candy Apple Café, Bistro AIX, Grape and Grain Exchange, bb’s and Sidecar will be competing against each other for the title. There will be a winner announced from a judges’ panel, as well as a people’s choice award.

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Having countless options spanning every corner of the city, Jacksonville residents face difficulty agreeing on which spots have the best food and drinks. What a wonderful problem to have. With most major cities hosting similar festivals, this is the time to showcase what Jax can bring to the table. Delicious pun intended.