By Lauren Barragan

[Lauren Barragan]

[Lauren Barragan]

This weekend kicked off the official season of ferias and festivals in Santiago, which can only mean one thing: this sunny weather is almost here to stay so prepare to have your weekends booked. For those of you who fought the weather forecaster this weekend and forged on, you probably reaped the benefits by getting to partake in one of the kick starting events that took place.

For those of you who missed it, Gustock kept families rolling into Parque Auraucano, with all the good clean fun that a music-centered picnic could offer. Think Woodstock setup, with a super psychedelic stage that seemed to almost hypnotize all niños present, meets family reunion-style picnic. Families were staking their territory with blankets, setting up elaborate picnic spreads for simultaneously gnoshing while listening to a variety of live sounds which included but was not limited to a very creepy four-clown band, that was like watching a warped Rob Zombie film. You just couldn’t seem to take your eyes away from them no matter how eerie they seemed. All carnival employees aside, given such beautiful weather, Gustock-goers seemed to enjoy the picnicking opportunity.

Those who forgot to pack the sandwiches or just happened to be passing by on their way to Sunday mall shopping trips, still enjoyed taking advantage of the food trucks parked and happy to feed everyone. The Hellman’s ‘combi’ even dressed their bus for the occasion, sporting an American flag paint job with records and photos of rock legends like Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison and sold hot dogs named in honor of the best rock eras, the 50s, the 60s and 70s. If you missed Woodstock once upon a time, you can rest assured that you still have the annual Gustock to look forward to next year. There won’t be any sex, drugs or rock and roll here but they do have clarinet playing clowns and we believe that if you haven’t experienced the musical stylings a of a circus performer, well, you just haven’t lived yet.

Echinuco proved to be another great success this year, flooding Parque Bicentenario with food aficionados who came to check out the how featured chefs, food trucks and vendors would bring their game with this year’s ‘Semillas’ theme. The seed-inspired motif, though certainly highlighting many healthy approaches to culinary creations, in no way took away from the sweet and savory treats being served. Some crowd favorites included the Elemental grilled octopus and roasted potatoes in chimichurri sauce as well as the relatively new spot on the block, Crudo y Sin Censura, a shop with their own traveling cart that prepares the most decadent crudo around, topping it with capers, hot peppers and our beloved By Maria Pepinos. Also wooing the food loving crowd this year was the Palettas stand, serving artisanal popsicles like the creamy arroz con leche and one unforgettable snickers inspired pop. With wine flowing from regions all over Chile and beer from big timers like Kunstmann as well as smaller crafted brews like Quebrada, the sunny day of family foodie goers dwindled, turning the park into Echinuco after dark, where the serious eating and drinking commenced. Echinuco managed to pull off, yet again, another wonderful weekend of abundant food and drink, to get us warmed up and ready for the season of sunny Saturdays and Sundays at food-centered festivities.

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