About four years ago, local James Beard Chef Adam Hegsted, founder of the Eat Good Group, had this idea to put on an event that would showcase a wide range of the best food and drink available here in the Inland Northwest, while also supporting education and positive growth in the hospitality industry. But it wasn’t until 2017 that he was able to realize his vision when Tom and Karen Stebbins of Vision Marketing approached him about partnering on a similar event in Spokane Valley. “I already knew that I wanted to do this four-day event,” says Hegsted. “I think they had something a bit smaller in mind, but I had a pretty grand idea and they went with it.”

Samples of hard cider from WBCC

In its second year, CRAVE! is presented by the City of Spokane Valley at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center. Each of the four days feature main events focused on different foods. Thursday night is seafood. Friday spotlights foods from around the world. Saturday is all about “fire and smoke,” or BBQ. And Sunday is brunch. Each main event pairs 15 chefs with 15 winemakers, and involves two breweries and two distilleries. A grand tasting is held on Saturday for people to sample flavors of the Northwest, like artisanal cheeses, honeys, liquors, wines, beers, and more. “The whole idea is to showcase the Northwest,” says Hegsted, “and show what we have going on in the region.”

Table full of samples of Penny's Salsa

Samples of Penny’s Salsa

CRAVE! also aims to give back to the community in two ways. First, they established a non-profit. Hegsted explains, “The foundation helps support education in the hospitality industry and enrich, challenge, and expand our regional appreciation of culinary, nutritional, and cultural diversity.” Second, the event benefits Second Harvest Inland Northwest and Spokane Valley Partners to provide food, clothing, and community resources to low-income families. “Through this and other events,” says Hegsted, “we want to build a corner in the community, help camaraderie, and keep the growth of the industry going in a positive direction.”

Ice Cream from The Scoop ice cream truck.

Ice Cream from The Scoop ice cream truck.