DAYTON EATS: New pineapple and pumpkin festivals joining full slate of MVRA events in 2023

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

This year is shaping up to be a huge one for Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA) events.

The non-profit organization that works to support and promote local restaurants has a full slate of dates on the calendar coming up through spring, summer and fall with familiar events that will be back and bigger than ever and some new events on the horizon.

Following a successful Winter Restaurant Week at the end of January this year, the organization will kick things off this week on March 8 with Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders featuring some of the best mixologists in town as they battle for the coveted title of best bartender and best drink in town.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Participating restaurants include Carver’s Steakhouse, CBCB Grill, El Meson, The Last Queen, Loose Ends Brewing, Meadowlark Restaurant, Rip Rap Roadhouse, Smith’s Boathouse, Watermark Restaurant and Wheat Penny.

The event will feature food and bites and concoctions from some of the Miami Valley’s most talented bartenders. There are a handful of tickets that are still available for the event at the Steam Plant at 617 E. 3rd St., Dayton.

”We only have a little over 60 tickets left for the event. The VIP sold out in a week, We are expecting a fun night with lots of great food and drink,” said Amy Zahora, executive director of the MVRA. “I have had countless people ask me when are we going to bring this event back and you can tell by ticket sales how happy everyone is that we did.”

This event is just one of many that Zahora estimates the events she is throwing this year are expected to draw an estimated 100,000 people over the course of this year.

MVRA is also introducing two new events this year — Pineapple Fest and Pumpkin Fest.

The first is Pineapple Fest, which will take place on July 15 at Austin Landing. Like its cousin Pickle Fest this will put the focus on the featured star of the event — pineapple. It will be all things pineapple with menu items like pineapple on a stick, pineapple salsa, grilled pineapple, pineapple tacos and much more. The beer garden will feature several pineapple craft beers and seltzers as well. There will be more than 20 retail and food vendors for this event including: El Meson, Rolling Indulgence, Little Boijon Asian Cuisine, Smokin Inferno BBQ and Catering, Arctic Fox and Ja’s and Sweet-umm’s. This event will be the first that Zahora has been able to find that will celebrate all things pineapple.

Bookending the year on Oct. 14, Zahora will put on Pumpkin Fest at Austin Landing in the heart of the fall season with pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin funnel cakes, cotton candy, pumpkin kettle corn and pumpkin beers.

Why add events to an already packed schedule? The answer is an easy one for Zahora.

“People have so much fun attending these events. It gives them something to do with their friends and family and it’s a great way to get out and support our amazing restaurants and food trucks in the area,” said Zahora. “Each of these events usually hits a little over 10,000 people during the day. It’s clear that the community is hungry literally and figuratively for events like these and it’s a great opportunity for our local restaurants and food trucks to shine.”

Here’s a look at the packed schedule of events Zahora and the MVRA has on the horizon.

• March 8: Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders at the Steam Plant, 617 E 3rd St, Dayton

Tickets are $55 day of and include one Buckeye Vodka Flight Card with the choice of four Buckeye Vodka cocktails from four different restaurants, food from each restaurant, and one voting chip. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

• June 10 Wine Fest at The Greene

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of. Ticket includes ten 2 oz. samples of wines and a souvenir wine glass. Live music and food trucks will be on hand for the event.

• June 16: Party at Austin Landing benefiting the Skylar Kooken Scholarship Foundation

Doors open at 6 p.m., band begins at 7 p.m. Live music with ESC4P3, a Journey Tribute Band. Free admission. Bud Light Beer Garden. Food trucks include: El Meson, JA’s and Sweet-umm’s, Rolling Indulgence, Little Boijon Asian Cuisine, Arctic Fox, Little Tiki Weenies, Crepe in Shape, Smokin Inferno BBQ & Catering

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

• June 23: VIP Preview to Pickle Fest at Austin Landing

• June 24: Pickle Fest — Just Dill With It at Austin Landing

The second annual event will take place from 3-10 p.m., with a special VIP night the day before. Admission is $5 per person. Food vendors include: El Meson, Rolling Indulgence, Smokin BBQ, CBCB Grill, Little Tiki Weeneies, Kona Ice, Arctic Fox, Little Boijon Asian Cuisine, Batter-up Waffle, Aime’s Pickles, and much more. Featured food includes Pickle on a Stick, Cotton Candy Wrapped Pickle, Pickle Waffles, Pickle Egg Rolls and more. Live music will take place all day. To help with crowds tickets will be limited for this event and additional shuttle parking will be offered.

• July 1: Stars, Stripes and Brews at The Greene

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Ticket holders receive 10 5 oz. beer tastings and a souvenir sample cup. Choose from over 50 craft beers. Music and food trucks will also be featured.

• July 7: Party at Austin Landing with the Pink Ribbon Girls

Food trucks, live music will all be on hand. Zahora said a new “twist” to this event will be announced closer to the date.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

• July 8: Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest at Fraze Pavilion

It’s chicken wings, chicken wings and more chicken wings at this popular event. Food vendors include: Amber Rose, Archer’s, El Meson, Nick’s, Romer’s, Rolling Indulgence, Smokin inferno BBQ and Catering, Ja’s & Sweet-umm’s, Pies and Pints, and more.

• July 15: Pineapple Fest at Austin Landing

A brand new event that Zahora says will be one of its kind in the state. Stay tuned for more details as the event draws closer.

• July 19: Sneak Peek to Summer Restaurant Week at The Steam Plant

• July 23-30: Summer Restaurant Week

• Aug. 19: Bacon Fest at Fraze Pavilion

This popular event will feature live music throughout the event from 3-9 p.m. with a full slate of food vendors slinging everyone’s favorite cut of pork.

• Aug. 26: Taco and Nacho Fest at Austin Landing

This is Nacho typical food festival with over 25 food and retail vendors including: What the Taco, El Meson, Mickey’s Salas, Condado Tacos, Rolling Indulgence, Kung Fu BBQ , Smokin Inferno BBQ and Ja’s and Sweet-umm’s.

• Sept. 16: Beer Fest at The Greene

Zahora says this event is back by popular demand with ticket holders sampling a full slate of new fall craft beers from around the U.S. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Each ticket receives ten 5 oz. pours.

• Sept. 30: Octoberfest at The Greene

Oktoberfest beer and wine tasting and food. Tickets are $25 In advance and $30 at the door.

• Oct. 14: Pumpkin Fest at Austin Landing

It’s all things pumpkin in this new event that Zahora expects will be a new favorite in town.

For more information on these events or to purchase tickets visit

Thoughout the pandemic there was always that lingering, nagging question, ‘would events return and if so, what would they look and be like?’ With this lineup it’s clear that events are back in a big way and based on the overwhelming interest thus far, people are hungry for it.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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