Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff of summer (sorry June 20th!) and the start of a season of food festivals. The season started a little early in New York this year — we like to be trendsetters — with the Great Googa Mooga taking place in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park the weekend prior to Memorial Day. The event was a collection of local food favorites from the five boroughs. Young urbanites came out in droves to sample all their favorites in a hip setting, and Ypulse was on hand to check it out. As with this article, the focus wasn’t only the food, but also the shared experience.
The crowd spanned all age groups, but the event was definitely designed with young people in mind. Food has always brought people together, but the current food culture is a Millennialized version, infused with social media and a dash of education mixed in.
After heading straight for the beverage line to stock up on water for the hot day, we checked out the lay of the land and discovered exhibits that were designed for experts to share knowledge about food culture and the restaurant business. There was the UrBarn with sessions about urban gardening, local and sustainable food, and even cooking techniques. There was also the Restaurant 101 stage where local restaurateurs taught the public what they’ve learned establishing their businesses and how to turn passion projects into entrepreneurial ventures. In the past, restaurants would closely guard such secrets, but many of today’s young restaurant owners embrace the Gen Y mindset that knowledge should be freely shared. Speaking of free, did we mention that tickets to the event, including many of the demonstrations, presentations, and musical performances were free?
Millennials also believe opinions should be freely shared and respected. Total strangers came up to one Ypulse staffer who was noshing on a fois gras donut — yes, fois gras donut — to get a thorough review before trotting off to purchase their own. The young crowd chatted with random people in line, sharing the details of their best food finds of the day and making recommendations. And of course they took photos and posted them online so their friends could check out all the interesting cuisine they sampled.
Mobile technology is of the utmost importance to Millennials — if they can’t share their experiences, what’s the point? One of our favorite stations was the coffee house sponsored by Lexus. The car company provided a lounge like atmosphere where people could chill out for a bit while charging their phones. Taking it to the next level, though, was Lexus’s Instagram installation. When festival goers posted pictures to Instagram with a designated hashtag, not only were they sharing it with their friends, but also Lexus printed the pictures and posted them on a board for the photographer to collect and take home. Instant art!
Of course, a common problem at NYC festivals is connectivity when so many people flood an area, so cell service and wifi were sketchy at best, making it a little difficult for us and the other Millennials on site to make friends jealous by posting pics of all the amazing food we ate.