Though just a few years old, the World Food Festival has become a staple on Des Moines' fall events calendar. Inspired by the Iowa-based World Food Prize, awarded each October to someone whose work has contributed to the end of world hunger, the festival celebrates cuisines from around the globe.
Colorful flags flutter over Locust Street, which teems with people as soon as the fest kicks off on Friday evening. Vendors under white tents sell all sorts of food, and it's easy to sample a variety—many offer a $1 tasting portion. (There’s no ticket system here, so bring cash.) Adventurous eaters order Salvadoran pupusas, Ethiopian doro watt or Ecuadorian canoas, but lots of people stick to more familiar gyros, pizza and caramel apples. Beer and wine are available at a large tent near a performance stage, and a handful of vendors sell woven purses, alpaca hats, semiprecious stone jewelry and other standard street festival loot.
Although tables are available, seats get snagged quickly, so you might end up eating while walking or sitting on a curb. No one seems to mind though. The fun here is in the wandering, smelling, seeing and sampling.