WhonPhoto_DigIN4004By: Annie Schmelzer, July 14, 2014

If you don’t know who started Dig IN, that’s not surprising.  There was no formalized organization or big event team standing behind that first year.  Dig IN 2010 was started by a vision in 2009, some luck, and a team of seven immensely dedicated individuals.  Fortunately, fifteen chefs/restaurants, six breweries and nine wineries also signed on for what promised to be an exciting, if not downright crazy, ride.

There was no roadmap for what was about to happen– no guidelines for who could participate, no history to explain who we were or what we were doing, no formal budget to work from, and no paid staff.  At the helm of this “adventure” was a terrified 24-year old Department of Agriculture employee.   I had a recurring nightmare every week leading up to the first event.  I dreamt that everything had come together, the White River State Park Celebration Plaza was beautiful, the chefs were ready, the weather was perfect, and then when we opened the gates only one person walked through them—my dad, because he was the only person I knew for certain had bought a ticket.  Mercifully, when we opened the gates on Dig IN for the first time 2,700 people came through them, subsequently ending my nightmare.  I’ve never breathed such a sigh of relief.

From my own perspective, what I remember most in that first year (second, of course, to my sense of relief) was how hungry and exhausted I was at the end of it.  The irony is not lost on me– hungry while being surrounded by some of the freshest, most amazing flavors of the season.  Clearly I had mismanaged my time.   A chef at the end of the day offered me his leftover heirloom tomatoes, which I happily accepted.  Quite frankly, I was starting to think lustful thoughts about eating the grass at that point.  I took the tomatoes home, cut them up, put a little salt and pepper on them and savored what was my taste of Dig IN that year.

Five years later, I marvel at the incredible growth of this adventure.  I can’t describe the thrill I get from seeing people enjoy the day and how much I appreciate all the hard work of everyone who is involved behind the scenes.  It’s the biggest celebration of all things local food that I’ll ever be a part of and I couldn’t be more grateful to share it with everyone who comes to Dig IN.  I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to all the culinary talent, wineries, breweries, volunteers, and board members who participate and another thank you to all of the guests who join us.  I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!