Annual Event Celebrates Local Foods and Local Food Producers


Press Release –  ALEXANDRIA – The sixth annual Foodapalooza, an event that celebrates Central Louisiana foods and food producers, will be held January 11-12 in Alexandria and feature a new venue and format. Hosted by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the largest local food event in the state, featuring nationally-recognized authors, artists, health experts, and economists, is Louisiana’s premiere event for engaging conversations about the importance of fresh, healthy, local food.

For the first time, all 2018 Foodapalooza events will take place at the Alexandria Museum of Art at 933 2nd St., Alexandria. For the convenience of participants, CLEDA has reserved a block of rooms at the nearby downtown Alexandria Holiday Inn.

“With a new format and a new venue, the sixth annual Foodapalooza reflects the growth of Central Louisiana’s local food movement,” said John Cotton Dean, Director of CLEDA’s Rural Prosperity Initiative. “As more year-round farmers markets have sprung up, and with more local food being included in our region’s restaurants and institutions, Foodapalooza’s new format will provide more opportunities for people to connect with local food partners and leaders.”

The 2018 Foodapalooza begins with an evening panel discussion on Thursday and continues through Friday with morning recreational opportunities and an afternoon conference featuring speakers from across food economy sectors. All events are free of charge.

Foodapalooza is part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a community effort that aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local foods economy while increasing access to fresh foods for all residents of the region. The initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. The Initiative is currently supported by funding from The Rapides Foundation, the USDA’s National Resource Conservation Service, as well as a philanthropic investment from Keller Enterprises, LLC.

“Now in its sixth year, Foodapalooza has become the region’s most recognized local food event,” said Jim Clinton, CLEDA President and CEO. “The event demonstrates the strength of the region’s local food partners and the continued commitment to growing the local food economy.” 

The Thursday evening panel discussion – “Healthy People, Healthy Economies & Vibrant Places” – is a unique conversation intended to bridge the public health, public policy, economic development and local food sectors. Panelists for the 5:30-6:30 p.m. event are Angie Tagtow, former executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; Andrew Dumont, senior community development analyst, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Debra Tropp, deputy director of Local Food Research and Development, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service; Arthur Neal, USDA deputy administrator of Farmers Markets and Local Food Marketing; and Rachel Reynolds Luster, managing director of the Artist’s Laboratory Theater.

Friday morning’s event, “Boots, Boats and Bikes,” is a self-directed outdoor recreation opportunity. Participants who register will be able to explore hiking, paddling and running locations throughout Central Louisiana on their own. “We added this component to show all the recreational opportunities that Central Louisiana has to offer,” Dean said.

The Foodapalooza Conference will be from 1-4 p.m. on Friday and feature keynote presentations by Tagtow and Luster as well as networking sessions for people interested in getting connected and learning more about Central Louisiana’s local food movement.

Tagtow is a Senior Fellow and Endowed Chair at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. She is a registered dietitian with more than 25 years experience working at local, state, federal and international levels in agriculture, food, nutrition policy, public health, and food and water systems. In 2014, she was appointed as the Executive Director for the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Luster is a Missouri writer, folklorist, fiddler, textile artist and community organizer whose work focuses on addressing the holistic health of her home county through land-based cultural and economic initiatives. She is currently crafting a dissertation that seeks to apply key principles from ecology to cultural practice, focusing on cultural initiatives that encourage the economic, cultural, spiritual and environmental well-being of Oregon County and its enduring cultural traditions. Rachel currently serves as a contributing editor for the Art of the Rural.

For more information and to register, visit FreshCentral.org/2018Foodapalooza.

Foodapalooza is funded by The Rapides Foundation’s Healthy Behavior’s Program Grant, the National Resource Conservation Service and Keller Enterprises, LLC.