The 2018 Austin Ice Cream Festival took place on Saturday, June 23, and we were there to beat the heat with sweet treats. The festival offers friends, families and even pets to gather annually at Fiesta Gardens and enjoy the frozen treats available from local vendors.
This year’s festival differed quite a bit from last year‘s, with a different sampling method and a different setup in the park. With your admission to the festival this year, you got a sampling pass book that contained the schedule, a list of flavors offered by each vendor, a vendor map and a place for samples to get marked off by each vendor as you tour the festival. Another difference between the 2017 ice cream festival and the 2018 one is the day/night dichotomy: last year, the fest took place from the morning to the mid-afternoon, but this year there was the daytime festival (10 AM to 3 PM) and the After Dark festival (6 PM to 10 PM). They both offered the same samples, but they each had different musical acts.
If you’re looking for family-friendly fun, there’s no better time than the day portion of the Austin Ice Cream Festival. Who doesn’t love ice cream, yard games, rock climbing, live music and ice cream eating contests? At 11 AM, there was a no-hands ice cream sandwich eating contest, and at 11:30 AM there was a no-hands popsicle eating contest. Seeing those brainfreezes happen in real time is always entertaining! Following that was the real entertainment: Mélat played on the pavilion stage at noon. She was, as usual, a great performer.
The half-pint eating contest, which is for ages 12 and under, took place just before 1 PM, and the full pint eating contest at 1:15 PM. The half-gallon challenge contest took place at 1:35 PM, and challenge may be an understatement in this case. Luckily, there was a break from all that ice cream eating at 1:45 PM, when Austin duo The Wild Now performed.
There were 21 vendors in all handing out samples, and not all of them might be what you’d expect at the ice cream festival. Of course, Amy’s Ice Creams and HEB were there, as were ice cream sandwich connoisseurs Moojo and The Baked Bear. Some non-dairy vendors include Over the Moon Vegan, Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs and Bahama Freeze. If you wanted a break from all the ice cream, popsicles and snow cones, there were samples from Fuze Tea, Austin Gourmet Popcorn, and Soozy’s Muffins.
The After Dark portion of the festival featured music from DJ Mel, Tameca Jones and Lee Fields & the Expressions. Guests at the nighttime fest also had the chance to try boozy frozen cocktails and some local food trucks. There was another half-gallon eating contest and a “milkshake throwdown” between bartenders to create the “Best Frozen Cocktail of ATX.”
You’ll have to wait until next summer to see what the next Austin Ice Cream Festival has to offer, but if this year is any indication, it’s going to be very cool.
Featured image credit: Catherine Gonzales/Shuffle Online
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dogs, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia.