Dig-IN tasting festival looks to create independent foundation

Organizers of the Aug. 28 tasting festival Dig-IN expect attendance to grow by 61 percent this year.

Director Eric Freeman said he won’t be surprised if he has to cap ticket sales at 5,000. Attendance last year was about 3,100—enough that some chefs ran out of samples and late-comers were offered discounted tickets.

The event, held at White River State Park, unites Hoosier farmers and chefs while educating the general public about the variety of foods produced in Indiana. Attendees receive a “passport” that lists the ingredients chefs use and the farms where they originate.

Organizers aren’t satisfied with a once-a-year promotion, however. They’re in the process of creating the Dig-IN Foundation, which would play a bigger role in helping connect Indiana producers with grocery stores, restaurants and individuals, said Ann Schmelzer, chairwoman of Dig-IN and program manager for diversified agriculture at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

A variety of agriculture and culinary businesses—from seed companies to restaurant equipment suppliers—support creating a foundation, Freeman said.

One of the foundation’s goals is to find financial resources for Indiana producers to scale up beyond supplying weekly farmer’s markets, Schmelzer said.

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