A new event is set to debut this fall, providing a unique food sampling environment while giving back to the hungry in the local community. The inaugural Southwest Michigan Culinary Festival is aimed to be a true celebration of all things food, where both visitors and the community can get excited about the chance to try new things and explore the uniqueness of the food culture in the Kalamazoo area.

On Thursday evening, October 12 at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, restaurants and caterers from the community will showcase unique food samples and experiment with new ideas and pairings. The event is specifically set on a weeknight to allow for involvement of the chefs.

Each restaurant will focus on a specific dish and create sample sized portions so that guests can try from a variety of flavors from savory to sweet. There will also be beer and wine vendors present, to pair with the food samples, along with live music and culinary demonstrations and education.

But it's also an evening of giving back. With the event proceeds, dollars will go to supply meals for someone in need, all through the work of the Food Bank of South Central Michigan. Part of each ticket will go towards raising funds for food assistance programs that the Food Bank of South Central Michigan supports, so guests can enjoy a fun evening while knowing that they’re helping to support the community as well.

Tickets are on sale now with special early bird pricing through September 17. VIP and General Admission tickets are available and each ticket will include sampling tokens for food, beer, and wine samples from the vendors at the event. There is also a children’s ticket price with fewer samples.

Here are the details:

Thursday, October 12

6-9 pm (with VIP hour at 5 pm)

Kalamazoo County Expo Center

**Early bird pricing on tickets is available below through midnight on September 17; prices will increase $10 each after**

VIP Tickets presented by Firekeepers Casino Hotel include (limited to 300 tickets):

• 20 sampling tickets good for food or beverage samples

• Keepsake VIP lanyard with badge

• Logoed glass

• One hour early entry starting at 5 pm

General admission tickets include:

• 15 sampling tickets good for food or beverage samples

• Logoed glass

Child tickets (for ages 12 and under) include:

• 5 sampling tickets good for food or non-alcoholic beverage samples