Smorgasbord of delectable festivals this weekend

We looked for a photo featuring cauliflower, garlic, pie and beer. We really did. Splendiferous photo of cauliflower by Flickr user Jack Letourneau; published under Creative Commons license.

This weekend offers a plethora of exquisite feast-ivals in homage to the region's agricultural heirlooms: It's cauliflower time in Margaretville, garlic time in Saugerties, Jennie Bell pie time in Accord, and beer time in Andes. All four offer exquisite blends of good eating, eclectic arrays of local wares, and top-notch entertainment.

The "cabbage with a college education," as Twain once styled it, does not inherently connote elegance. Cauliflower Festival organizers confront this dryly on their website: “ can scarcely imagine children being as entranced by James and the Giant Cauliflower.” That said, they go on to note that the veggie shaped like a brain used to be favored at the royal court served up in ways that would tempt Tony Bourdain.

And you will be entranced by the homegrown artisanal Catskills wizardry on display in Margaretville this weekend, as the Central Catskills Chamber pulls together a harvest of the region's assorted brands of genius. Cauliflower treats, blueberry wine and sweet mountain honey are just the beginning -- you can learn about clean tech, forest preservation and the ways people are reinventing their local economies from the bottom on up. Cauliflower festivities in Margaretville take place on Saturday, September 29 from 10am till 4pm, at the park behind Freshtown Market.

The Hudson Valley Garlic Fest, down the creek a piece in Saugerties, is a weekend-long, fragrant foodstravaganza that was named one of the best harvest parties in the country by USA Today years back, and has just kept getting bigger and better. The event features demos by master chefs, puppet theater, dance and art galore. Saugerties will be celebrating the delights of garlic from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday, at Cantine Field.

The Jennie Bell Pie Extravaganza, named after an early settler whose descendants still farm the Rondout Valley, draws a crowd of thousands to celebrate the things you can do with fruit, under the benevolent gaze of Chomsky, the giant garden gnome of Kelder's Farm. There's a Battle of the Bands on Friday and fireworks on Saturday, and a midway with rides and games. The Jennie Bell Pie proceedings run Friday from 6 to 10pm and Saturday from 12 to 10pm, at Kelder's Farm on Rt. 209 in Accord.

On Saturday evening, Andes shows off another flavor of our region's refreshing good taste with the Fourth Annual Oktoberfest (okay, so it's technically not quite October.) Purchase a glass for $25 and sample the best microbrews around, accompanied by beer-compatible edibles and live music. It's happening at the Andes Hotel's Outdoor Shack between 2 and 7pm.

Why not hit more than one? Imagine how utterly contented you'll be later this fall when instead of seeking holiday gifts in iffy weather, you'll be long since done with that and curled up with a nice spread of snacks and drinks. You know your loved ones are going to be thrilled with your thoughtfulness, and that you supported the burgeoning post-industrial paradigm 'round here.

Simply delish.