Foodaroo takes another big bite this Sunday

MIDDLEBURY — Andy and Lisa Mitchell know art, food, music and adventure, and they want to share with everyone. 
The Middlebury couple are the founders of Middlebury UndergrounD, a nonprofit event production company that is working with local artists, musicians, chefs and people with “cool, creative ideas” to plan and host events that the entire community can enjoy.
“Our goal is to offer experiential community events that bring the diverse cross-sections together; the college, the town, all aspects of the town, all age ranges,” Lisa Mitchell said. “Our hope is to deliver something educational, exciting and engaging.”
This Sunday, June 26, from 3 to 9 p.m., the Mitchells and Middlebury UndergrounD, MUD for short, are bringing back the Foodaroo Festival for a second annual celebration of farm-to-table living and the maker movement. Food and drink vendors will set up on Merchants Row and the Middlebury town green to energize the festivities, while a line-up of four Vermont bands perform on the stairs of the Town Hall Theater.
MUD has lined up twice as many sponsors, artists and vendors as last year. Vendors will include both brick-and-mortar operations and a number of food trucks, offering a variety of experiences and unique dishes. The New England Culinary Institute, Mary’s Restaurant, LuLu’s Ice cream, Two Brothers Tavern and The Diner, among others are among the highlights. 
Not to be missed are a fleet of food trucks that all rely heavily, if not exclusively, on locally sourced foods. They include The Lazy Farmer (which offers flavorful comestibles out of a renovated 1968 Arrow Duplex camper), the Fork in the Road (a food truck run by the Burlington School Food Project), Jam Bakery (a mobile baker based out of Richmond), Burlington’s Farmers & Foragers food truck (what says local more than “foraging”?) and Thai@Home, which you’ll find parked weekdays at the Vermont Sun parking lot right here in Middlebury.
As visitors explore the culinary prime of Vermont, music will evolve from afternoon jazz and the sounds of local band The Good Parts to a sunset rock-and-roll party with headliner Josh Panda and the Hot Damned. Between these acts, the stage will keep rocking with The Bengsons, an indie-rock band returning to Vermont from Brooklyn, and Dwight & Nicole, recently named “Band of the Year” at the New England Music Awards for their R&B and blues-inspired tunes.
Between sets, The Red Trouser Show, a troupe of Boston-based acrobats, will tumble and flip their way down Merchants Row giving this rocking festival an additional carnival flair. The group delighted visitors last year and is sure to do so again.
Andy Mitchell said he and Lisa had a certain vibe in mind when selecting vendors and musicians for this year’s Foodaroo.
“Anyone that is not excited, not enthusiastic, those aren’t the people we’re looking for,” he said.
The family-friendly event will also feature a number of games and activities for kids to enjoy throughout the day. Additionally, the social service agency HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects) will be collecting non-perishable food items for their food shelf.
Though general admission is free, food will be sold by tickets, each valued at $1, for options ranging from $3 to $6. Beer, wine, hard-cider and other drinks will be sold at the Town Hall Theater.
“We want this event to be incredibly accessible to everyone,” said Lisa. “You can come, not spend a dime and just enjoy all the bands and street activities, and have a good time.”
The festival atmosphere, the eclectic mix of music plus the locally inspired and sourced cuisine reflect the Mitchells’ devotion to creativity and craft. 
“We pick events that are tangents of things in our own life, things that we find interesting and that we think other people will find interesting,” Andy said.
After 10 years in Boston, New York City and then Washington, D.C., the Mitchells arrived in Middlebury 11 years ago to settle down and start their family, which now includes Jake, 8, and Billy, 5. 
“We paid our dues,” Andy explained. “And then for kids and living, we wanted a slower and less stressful life.”
While the pace of life in Vermont may be different than in the big city, the Mitchells haven’t slowed down at all. 
Although Andy and Lisa went to grade school together in Chatham, N.J., they didn’t know each other at the time. They met when Andy crashed Lisa’s fifth high school reunion.
Andy, a Middlebury College alum, now works as a documentary filmmaker and largely produces for National Geographic, where he spent 10 years on staff. 
While most of Andy’s films uncover the wonders of nature, in 2005 he helped film “Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars,” the story of a group of musicians forced out of their country and into a refugee camp in neighboring Guinea. Determined to thrive, the group started their own band within the camp and became one of Africa’s most well-known groups. In one of their first events, MUD brought the band to Middlebury to perform and share their story at the Town Hall Theater in February 2015.
As a chef in her 20s, Lisa worked at Gourmet and then Bon Appétit magazine before switching to a career strictly writing. She now spends her time writing and running a communications business for a number of clients in Washington, D.C.  
Between their family and full-time jobs, the Mitchells still find time to explore Vermont and track down the talent and imagination that this year’s slate of Foodaroo vendors and performers has to offer.
For more information on Foodaroo or MUD, contact Lisa Mitchell at (802) 388-4277, email [email protected], or visit www.foodaroo.org.

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