Dining With Denise Neil

The weekend Wichita women wait all year for will be filled with wine, food and fun

Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse Chef Josh Rathbun will demonstrate what to do with farmers market finds at this weekend’s annual Wichita Women’s Fair.
Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse Chef Josh Rathbun will demonstrate what to do with farmers market finds at this weekend’s annual Wichita Women’s Fair. The Wichita Eagle

It’s Wichita Women’s Fair weekend, which means that thousands of women will stream into Century II for three days of shopping, hair care tips, fashion shows, self-help seminars and decluttering advice.

And though all of that is fun and helpful, who are we kidding? Most women are there for the food and drink.

During its 20 years at Century II, the event – which annually draws about 15,000 attendees – has become more and more food focused.

This year, the fair will offer not only face-time with some of Wichita’s most well-known restaurant chefs, but the lineup of events also will include wine tastings, cooking demos, food sampling and instruction on making a perfect cup of tea.

And if they’re so inspired, women can visit the fair’s booths and find most of the gadgets needed to become top chefs for sale on site.

Here’s a list of all the food-and-drink focused events scheduled for fair, which starts on Friday and runs through Sunday in the Century II’s Expo Hall. (By the way, men are more than welcome to attend, too.)

Friday

How-to tea demo, 2 p.m., Cooking Stage: The experts from UK Tea shop will demonstrate how to prepare a perfect cup of tea.

Chef demo by Matthew Wallen of the Hyatt Regency, 4 p.m., Cooking Stage: The new chef at the hotel’s Harvest Kitchen and Bar will show off some of his skills.

Wine tasting, 5:30 p.m. Cooking Stage: Local wine expert Guy Bower will put on a wine tasting that features sparking wines that are available at low prices. Attendees will be able to sample champagnes and sparkling wines from California, Washington, Spain and Italy.

Chef demo, Joe Parten of Carrabba’s, 6:30 p.m., cooking stage: Learn now to make two desserts: limoncello bread pudding and apple crostada.

Restaurant samples: Friday is “Girl’s Night Out” at the fair, and from 5 to 8 p.m., attendees will find food samples from Albero Café, AJ's Sports Grill, Bocco Deli, Carlos O'Kelly's, Larkspur and SmallCakes Cupcakery.

Saturday

Two-for-one meals demo, 11 a.m. Saturday, Cooking Stage: Krista Sanderson of Eat REAL America will teach attendees how to turn leftovers into an exciting next-day meal.

Chef demo, Josh Rathbun of Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse, 2:30 p.m., Cooking Stage: This well-known chef, who specializes in farm-to-table specials at the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Wichita, will talk about using finds from farmers markets in cooking.

Simple cooking with Chef H, 3:30 p.m., Cooking Stage: This local author of the cookbook “Simple Cooking,” will demonstrate how to make salmon spread with cucumber, summer broccoli and three-bean salad..

Foodie shopping

As usual, the fair will include a long list of vendors selling dip mixes, garlic, coffee cakes, spice mixes, mustard, salsa, jelly, olive oil and more. There’s even a hand-made pierogi booth.

In addition, attendees can shop at booths selling kitchen gadgets and goods, including knives, aprons, cast-iron cookware, graters, Tupperware and wine accessories.

Non-food highlights

It’s not all about food. As always, the festival will contain several other activities and self-help seminars. Among them:

Celebrate You: This event, at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, will feature author and life coach Amy Doe offering advice for changing your life.

Hair Show: Crave Beauty Academy’s Patrick Kilian will put on a hair show on stage at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Karakoe contest: Release your inner pop star at a karaoke contest scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Makeup demo: Get makeup tips for all ages at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Doggy fashion show: Pooches and their people can get tips on essential pet wardrobe pieces at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

More shopping: Find everything from clothes to jewelry to gifts.

Wichita Women’s Fair

Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under are free. Tickets are available at the door.

Transportation: Spot’s Party Bus will again provide free door-side transportation to Century II from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium parking lot at 300 S. Sycamore.

More information and a full schedule: http://www.womensfair.com

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