By Alejandro Serrano, news correspondent
Cowboys and cowgirls gathered on Sunday afternoon at Inman Square in Cambridge for the third-annual Inman Square Business Association’s (ISBA) Harvest Hoedown – a western-themed charity festival showcasing local restaurants, music and businesses.
Part of the proceeds of the Harvest Hoedown went to the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program (CWBP), continuing a tradition of donating a part of the proceeds to a charitable food organization, according to Hoedown coordinator and ISBA Co-President Debbie Musnikow.
CWBP uses funds to pack two lunches, two breakfasts, milk and fresh fruit for underprivileged students to go home with every Friday afternoon.
“I think next year we will stick with CWBP [for the proceeds],” Musnikow said. “It is hyper-local, we believe in what they are doing and that speaks to what we do at Inman Square: 100 percent local and provide for the local communities.”
CWBP was started in the spring of 2013, shortly after founder Alanna Mallon heard about backpack programs and noticed Cambridge lacked one.
“We went from 13 kids to 65 kids and we kept getting bigger and bigger … now we are close to 400 kids,” Mallon said. “[We are] grateful and honored to be a part of such a great community. We could all just be here eating, but we are eating and also making sure others have enough to eat.”
This year’s festival featured numerous Cambridge-based restaurants, all of which brought seasonally-inspired samples from their menus. The ingredient of the day was cranberries, this year’s theme flavor. Every dish featured a cranberry flare.
“It’s a great festival, lots of people and good music,” Leslie Medeiros, marketing manager of Guangzhou Restaurant, said. “It is great for people to sample the local food. We brought our cranberry-orange cookie, which is all-natural… [Harvest Hoedown] is such a good cause because part of the proceeds are for underprivileged kids, and we are very excited to support it.”
The Harvest Hoedown was open to the public, but only people with tickets could sample food. Restaurants had food for sale, regardless of tickets, and those with a ticket could also vote for the best cranberry dish and the best table décor.
All Star Pizza Bar showcased a slice of pizza decorated with cranberries and sausage, while Atwood’s Tavern baked fresh loaves of banana bread with a cranberry butter spread. To wash it all down, 1369 Coffee House provided a blood cider – a warm apple drink turned red from a cranberry infusion. City Girl Café won the competition with mushroom meatball sliders topped with cranberries and sage.
Country-folk band Fred the Donkey, from Cambridge, played covers of seminal western hits such as Marty Robbins’ “160 Acres” and Dale Evans’ and Roy Rogers’ “Happy Trails.”
“It’s a cool atmosphere,” Jared Littlejohn, Cambridge resident, said. “I haven’t done anything ‘super Cambridge’ yet, being that I moved here a couple of weeks ago, so this is really cool and fits into doing something [to get into the community].”
The event was sponsored by numerous local businesses each with a pop-up tent in Inman Square. A beer and cider garden and live music also kept the country vibe flowing at the festival.
Photo by Scotty Schenck