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Local Food Exhibitors Spice up the Arts Fest for the First Year

by on July 12, 2013 3:10 PM

Dan Lowenstein has worked in the timber industry since 1999, but his new business venture is slowly becoming a full-time gig.

“If you would have told me a couple of years ago that it would turn into this, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Lowenstein says about his Reedsville-based business Red Hawk Premium Peppers. Lowenstein and his wife, Stephanie, are selling their specialty sauces at the new Artisanal Food Area, located on Foster Avenue near Sidney Friedman Park.

Although he only started the business a little over a year ago, Lowenstein has been growing his own peppers for many years. The self-proclaimed “chili head” says he was “blessed with a little Irish grandma” who loved spicy foods, which sparked his passion for growing peppers.

Red Hawk is one of five artisanal food producers who are showing off their unique products that are grown and made in Pennsylvania. Other exhibits in the area include Village Eatinghouse Marketplace and Café from Pleasant Gap, Naked Granola from State College, Tait Farm Foods from Centre Hall and Razz’s Shagbark Hickory Syrup from Hazle Township.

“I think food art is growing in popularity and people are recognizing it as an art form,” says Melanie Phillips, co-owner of Village Eatinghouse Marketplace and Café. Phillips facilitated a similar artisanal food exhibit at the People’s Choice Festival in Boalsburg 10 years ago before helping bring it to the Arts Fest this year. Now the food area at the People’s Choice Festival has 12 vendors and Phillips hopes that the artisanal food area at the Arts Fest will continue to expand.

“It’s a great venue to preview or highlight a new product,” she says. Proving her point, Phillips came to the festival with 75 bottles of her café’s new Sultry and Smoky Grilling and Glazing Sauce. She’s already down to three bottles and will have to make some more later tonight.

Lowenstein is having similar success. Potential buyers crowd his tent for a chance to taste the sauces. He has everything from mild sauces called “Fire on the Mountain” to “Strawberry Scorpion Sting,” which is made with what is the world’s hottest pepper -- known as the Moruga Scorpion pepper.

Dave Seashoutz, Lowenstein's friend and customer, has been using his buddy’s sauces before they were for sale. He is Lowenstein’s unofficial guinea pig for new products, and he’s hooked.

“I just put it on everything,” Seashoutz says. “He’s doing really well and at first we thought it was a niche market, but it’s not.”

“It was a passion that turned into an addiction that turned into a business and it’s been going strong ever since,” Lowenstein says as his wife sells another bottle.

Click HERE for a complete guide of the Arts Fest.

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Shawn Christ is a recent Penn State graduate who is working as an intern for
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