Dining With Denise Neil

Spring, early summer loaded with foodie-event fun in Wichita

All-you-can-eat crawfish is the star attraction at Prairie Pines’ Mudbug Madness, an event planned for April 24-25.
All-you-can-eat crawfish is the star attraction at Prairie Pines’ Mudbug Madness, an event planned for April 24-25.

Food and drink fans have approximately two weekends to prepare their palates.

After that, springtime food events will start stuffing the calendar with great frequency, in a delicious blur of beer and wine and beer and crawfish and beer and kibbe and beer.

Here are several events – a few of them new – that you’ll want to put on your calendar:

57th Pancake & Sausage Day, April 23: The annual Downtown Lions Club pancake day, an event that attracts about 2,000 people to Century II’s Exhibition Hall for all-you-can-eat pancakes plus sausage and coffee, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 23. Tickets are $6 in advance by calling Mike Randle at 316-264-1610 extension 5543. They’re also available at the door. Money raised goes toward supporting need-based scholarships at the YMCA.

Midwest Winefest, April 23-25: The year’s biggest wine event, a three-day affair that includes a (sold-out) Old Town Walkabout, several wine dinners and a grand tasting, is almost here. Though it’s too late to get tickets to the popular walkabout, there’s still time to attend one of the Winefest’s four wine dinners, scheduled for April 24 at the Wichita Country Club, Chester’s Chophouse, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse and the Doubletree by Hilton Wichita Airport. Dinner reservations must be made by calling 316-682-5502 by noon on April 21. The main event is the Grand Tasting, which is from 6 to 9 p.m. April 25 at Century II. It features hundreds of wine samples and food from restaurants including Abuelo’s, Fork & Fennel, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, Meddys and more. Grand tasting tickets are $66 or $15 for a designated driver. For more information about the Winefest activities, visit www.midwestwinefest.com. For tickets to the events, visit www.wichitatix.com or call 316-303-8100.

Mudbug Madness, April 24-25: This annual Cajun-style crawfish boil at Prairie Pines, 4055 N. Tyler, now in its seventh year, features all you-can-eat crawfish plus a Cajun buffet. It’s from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. April 24 and 25 and also will feature a cash bar and music by the Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco band. Tickets are $34.95 a person and are available at www.prairiepines.com. For more information, call 316-303-2037.

Zest and Zing, April 30: This one’s new and bills itself as “a foodie and farmer event.” It’ll be 6 p.m. April 30 at Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas, and is being put on by the Kansas Farm Bureau, United Soybean Board and Kansas Soybean Commission. Ticket holders will be able to partake in heavy hors d’ouerves provided by Larkspur, have drinks and watch a cookoff between two local chefs. They also will get a swag bag and will be able to hear an area beef farmer and wheat farmer talk about how they raise their food. Tickets are $25 until April 14 and then $35 after that. They’re available at www.kfb.org/zestandzing.

Food & Brew Festival, May 3: This new event, put on by Andover Advantage, will be from noon to 4 p.m. May 3 at the southwest corner of Kellogg and Andover Road. It’s an all-ages event that will feature food from several food trucks, including B.S. Sandwich Press, Funky Monkey Munchies, Hopperoni Express and more, plus drinks from seven Kansas breweries and wineries. Ticket holders will be entitled to a sample of food from each truck, though they can buy additional food. For $10 more, they can also get a sample of beer or wine from the local brewers on site. VIP adult tickets, which include express entry plus a beer lanyard, are $50. Regular adult tickets are $25 and beer lanyards are $10 on site. A family-pack that will allow admittance to two adults and two children is $100. Kid tickets are $15. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.andoverfbf.com.

St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church Mediterranean Festival, May 9: The church’s annual Mediterranean food sale is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 9 at the church, 344 S. Martinson. It will feature grape leaves, cabbage rolls, kafta, kibbe, chicken paprikash and baklava sundaes that can be enjoyed on-site or purchased for carryout. The church also will have music and a display of ethnic dancing. Items are sold a la carte. For more information, visit stmarywichita.org/festival.html.

Blooms, Brews and Bloody Marys, May 14: This is the third year for this event, which features bartenders from local bars and restaurants competing to make the best Bloody Mary. The event also features beer, live music and food. It starts at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $40, $35 for members. For tickets, visit www.botanica.org/blooms-brews-bloody-marys.

Amber Waves, May 15: This is the second year for this beer stroll through Delano, which doubles as a fundraiser for Starkey. It will include 12 participating Delano businesses that each will offer 2-ounce pours of craft beers made by brewers such as Breckenridge, Sam Adams and Schlafly. Those who attend buy a $50 ticket and stroll from store to store sampling the beer. Several of those stores also will offer hors d’oeuvres prepared by local restaurants and prize drawings. Participating stores include All Things BBQ, Bicycle X-Change, Sugar Sisters Bakery and What’s Brewing. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m., when most of those businesses would usually be closed. More information and tickets are available at www.amberwavesict.com.

WichCraft, May 16: The Wichita Craft Beer Guild – whose members include all local brewers, several bar owners, liquor store folks and some distributors – has changed the focus of its first-ever beer festival from its original plans announced earlier this year. The group was not able to apply for its nonprofit status in time, so instead of having a tasting event on the Hyatt Lawn, they’re having one at the Monarch, 579 W. Douglas. The event, which will last from 1 to 4 p.m., will take place in the bar and in the parking lot out back and will include samples from craft beer makers and a food truck rally. It can accommodate about 500 people, organizers said. They’re still working on a ticket price and on-sale date.

Celebrity & Chef cookoff, June 9: Tickets are on sale now to the Orpheum’s 14th annual Celebrity & Chef Cookoff, a fundraising event that brings in money for the historic theater and its restoration. It’s on June 9 at Intrust Bank Arena and will pair local celebrities with local chefs for an “Iron Chef”-style cookoff. Those who buy a $90 ticket get to watch the competition go down and sample food from local restaurants. They also get cocktails and can participate in live and silent auctions. Tickets are available now at www.wichitaorpheum.com or by calling 316-263-0884.