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Thousands attend Jewish Food Festival

Temple Beth Ami hosts first festival featuring food, music, vendors, family activities

Posted: May 22, 2009 10:14 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Seth Front, owner of Jewish Zodiac -a Jewish store based in West Hills - sits behind one of the many booths at the event.

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Epicureans interested in corned-beef sandwiches, blintzes or bagels would have done well to attend the Santa Clarita Valley's first Jewish Food Festival Sunday, hosted by Temple Beth Ami at the Bridgeport Marketplace as a fundraiser to benefit the temple and the SCV Food Pantry.

The festival featured kosher and non-kosher foods from Santa Clarita and San Fernando valley culinary purveyors.

Food vendors included Cal Tech Kosher Catering, Bristol Farms, Sam's Flaming Grill, Mobile Soft Serve, Top Dog Hot Dog, Bailey's Bakery, Z Pizza, T-Bo's, Fusion Illusion and Pampered Chef.

Kosher foods included high-stacked corned beef sandwiches, hot dogs, knishes, soft-serve ice cream, and bagels.

The festival also featured other vendors and music entertainment.

Children enjoyed kid-approved munchies like popcorn, ice cream, snow cones and cotton candy. Two bounce houses, arts and crafts booths, air-brush tattoos and face-painting were also provided for family-fun entertainment.

Carolyn Heitmann, a member of Temple Beth Ami and chair of the festival, got the idea of a Jewish food event while on a trip to Savannah.

"There happened to be a Jewish food festival called ‘Shalom Ya'll' while (my husband and I) were there," Heitmann said. "I thought, ‘What a great idea! We could do this as a fundraiser for our temple.'"

With the approval of the Temple Beth Ami, Heitmann started her year-long process of organizing the event.

With no Jewish delis in the Santa Clarita Valley, Heitmann and her committee looked to San Fernando Valley to be a part of the event.

"Getting vendors for a first-time event is like pulling teeth," she said.

Temple Beth Ami publicized the event at other synagogues in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, printed out flyers to post locally and sent announcements to local publications.

Things fell into place for the committee the week of the festival and Heitmann considered it a success.

"I'm amazed so many people came and stayed," she said.

The event attracted so many people that one of the main Jewish dishes - corned beef sandwiches - ran out 90 minutes into the festival.

"We ran over to Bristol Farms, one of our main vendors, and asked if they could make corned beef sandwiches," Heitmann said. "We (were) pretty flexible. There was nothing we couldn't overcome," she said.

"We probably had about 1,000 people," Heitmann said. "For a first-time event, that's pretty remarkable. We're planning to do it again next year."

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