The 5th annual Homer Soda Festival took place this past Saturday. The festival has grown more and more each year it has taken place, though this was admittedly my first year attending. This year’s festival was definitely a hot one — when I arrived around 3:30 p.m. it was 93 degrees! Aside from an obvious large array of sodas to sample, the festival also featured a classic car show, a barbecue cook-off, The Great Soda bake-off, music, kids' activities, bicycle rentals and a lot of delicious food.
In previous years the parking for the event had been politely described as less than amazing, and I would admit that it could be described the same this year. As long as you don’t mind walking a bit from your parking spot to the festival, it’s honestly not a big deal.
There were countless types of sodas to be tasted; I only allowed myself to taste a few because the real target for me was the food. Tickets for the soda samples were very affordable: $4 got you 10 tickets, each soda sample was one ticket. There was also a $15 wristband that got you unlimited soda samples and a $20 VIP option, which came with unlimited soda samples, a collectable “tasting glass” (shot glass), gift bag, bottle of water, and most importantly, a separate expedited line at each booth. I got the $4 option and headed down the path to the 50 tasting booths, all with at least 3 sodas to taste.
I tasted the III Daschund Root Beer, Brownie Caramel Root Beer, Lost Trail Diet Root Beer and Lost Trail Sarsaparilla. They were all very delicious, especially considering I do not normally drink soda. The lines at the booths were not long at all; the longest I had to wait at any booth was about 5 minutes, which was a good thing considering the scorching temperature. All of the staff pouring at the booths were very kind, even after being out in the high temperatures for most of the day.
After sampling some soda, I headed for what I was most excited about: barbecue. I decided to try Bud’s BBQ because I had never had it, and it had that good barbecue look to it with the giant smokers parked beside the booth. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich ($6) which I decided was a fair price if it was good quality. It was hands down some of the best pulled pork I have ever had in my 23 years on this planet. The meat was plentiful, the sauce was tangy, and the bun soft. The pork had the most amazing smoky taste to it which paired perfectly with the sweet yet tangy barbecue sauce that was ladled over top.
After my lip smacking barbecue experience, I decided to try something that caught my eye when I first arrived, a food truck called Gigi’s Cupcakes. I walked up to the truck expecting to just get a cupcake as I was immediately confronted with a major dilemma: which cupcake do I get?! There were many flavors: chocolate chip cookie dough, white midnight magic, wedding cake, and the one I chose, strawberry shortcake ($4). The cupcake was perfectly firm and dense while maintaining an appropriate level of moisture. I also got a bottle of cold brew coffee ($4) from So Bro Cold Brew; the coffee had been aged in bourbon barrels. It was one of the most intriguing and delicious cold brews I have ever had.
I spent the remainder of my time walking around and exploring some of the vendor tents at the event. There was a booth selling custom made wooden signs, a local beard product company (very cool), a dog treat company, and many more. There seem to be a handful of fun activities going on also; I noticed some laser tag near the food area, as well as various competitions (cook-offs, car show, most delicious soda, etc). I ended my trip at the Soda Station which was a large tent with what seemed to be every soda at the festival for sale.
If you have never been, I completely recommend checking it the Homer Soda Festival next year. Even if you’re not a soda drinker, there’s still plenty for you to enjoy in terms of good food, fresh air, and friendly smiles.
For more information about the Homer Soda Festival, visit the event's website.
All photos by Brian Plotner.