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Food Network Show to Film at Oswego's PrairieFest

Food Network Canada/Cooking Channel's "Carnival Eats" will film at the four-day fest, which boasts unconventional food and a unique lineup of events.

Chef Marcus Mooney's Plainfield restaurant Frank's Night Out will be among the featured eateries during the four-day fest. Credit: Patch file photo
Chef Marcus Mooney's Plainfield restaurant Frank's Night Out will be among the featured eateries during the four-day fest. Credit: Patch file photo
It's not business as usual at the PrairieFest food court — and the Oswego festival's unique eats have drawn the attention of Food Network Canada.

The network's new show, "Carnival Eats," is set to debut in August, and the June 12-15 fest will be featured in one of the first episodes. According to the show's official Twitter account, the series is "hosted by the irresistible Noah Cappe, and featuring delicious, indulgent carnival treats."

Fest coordinator Kristie Vest said the network first reached out to the Oswegoland Park District in the spring.

"They started calling fests in the midwest that they felt had a unique offering with food," Vest said, adding with a laugh, "We talked their ear off about our food."

Bragging about the food lineup came easy for Vest.

"When they called, it was really easy for me to tell them all the things I wanted to taste at the fest," she said.

Last week, the show, which will air on either Food Network Canada or the Cooking Channel, confirmed it will film at PrairieFest. The fest starts Thursday and ends Sunday at PrairieFest Park, 91 Plank Road.

"We're really excited," Vest said, adding the park district takes pride in finding a great crop of vendors that go beyond typical carnival fare.

"We are not looking for mass-produced food items," Vest said. "What we're really excited about is that the vendors we have really reflect the diversity of Chicagoland food," from great Mexican food to Italian food more unique items like crab cakes.

Vest said the park district doesn't yet know which vendors will be featured on the show, or when it will air.

"The host, Noah Cappe, will focus on vendors with unique processes and with unique foods," she said. 

Marcus Mooney, chef and owner at Frank's Night Out in Plainfield, said the network has approached him about documenting his out-of-the-ordinary hot dog creations at the fest. It's won't be the first TV appearance for the restaurant, which appeared last year on WGN's “Chicago’s Best.

Frank's Night Out opened in early 2013 and offers up Chicago-style dogs as well as more unconventional items such as the Notorious P.I.G.,  a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with pulled pork, mac and cheese and jalapenos.

At PrairieFest, Frank's will also offer something called the "Funnel Vision Hot Dog," garlic fries, fried cookie dough and more.

The event will be the first festival for Frank's, Mooney said. "It's a new experience," he said.

While fest-goers can still expect traditional fest fare like lemon shake-ups and funnel cakes, other offerings include Cape May Crab cakes, maple bacon sundaes from Big Kahuna, red velvet funnel cake from Chicago Classic, saganaki sticks from Greek Delights and old-fashioned root beer from Old West Soda.

Another big draw is Genoa Pizza, Vest said. "People come to the fest specifically for their Italian sausage," she noted.

Find a full list of vendors and food offerings on the PrairieFest website.


Keeping it unique

The food isn't the only thing that sets PrairieFest apart from other summer festivals, Vest said.

Last year, a pet adoption event was added to the lineup. That will return this year, along with a new feature: a dog park, open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Prairie Point Park.

"One of the things we've always tried to do is make decisions that are very thoughtful," Vest said. "It's about being unique with what we bring to the fest."

In addition to a carnival and live music lineup featuring Night Ranger, Rusted Root and Seventh Heaven, this year's fest includes a petting zoo, softball tournament, gymnastics obstacle course, blood drive, kids fishing clinic, pony rides, bed races and more. 

The Prairie Paws pet adoption event is from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Click here for a full schedule of events.

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