At the 2017 Austin Ice Cream Festival this past weekend, Mother Nature brought high temps, more than 20 different vendors brought the frozen treats, and the result was a bit sticky but nevertheless delicious. Long hours (gates opened at 10 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m.) meant waiting time for samples was kept at a minimum throughout most of the day and traffic throughout the lovely Fiesta Gardens was relatively light.
My companion and I were able to taste the offerings from the majority of vendors, many of which offered non-dairy or vegan options, and while all were solid (albeit, not for long, har), standouts emerged. I adored the subtly sweet red berry flavor of my scoop of “Tiger’s Blood” from Southern Bunny Shaved Ice, the chunky cookies and cream from Austin Scoops, and the almost two-handed ice cream sammies made with soft-baked chocolate chip cookies from Moojo.
The award for the most creative serving dish goes to NadaMoo, which vended its smooth, surprisingly rich chocolate-peanut-butter milkless ice cream (oxymoron recognized) in coconut shells.
Throughout the day visitors also were serenaded by live music from DJ Chorizo Funk and Adam and the Bull Shark, as well as able to gawk at participants in five different ice cream eating contests that culminated in the “Half-Gallon Challenge.” Frankly, I take issue with the idea that consuming a half-gallon of ice cream in a short amount of time is challenging, and I’m sure any gal who has been dumped by her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day will agree with me.
Unlike many of the attendees, we did not have small children in tow, but I’m sure those that did appreciated the voluminous bouncy house where kiddos at the peak of a sugar high could blow off some extra energy as well as the many picnic tables with ample shading and parking space for prams.
Those interested in attending the festival next year should (provided it’s again made available) take advantage of the “Zip Fast Freeze” tickets that are worth the extra dollars for securing early entry, additional sampling tickets, and most importantly, access to an air-conditioned hospitality area.