RI Food Fights Celebrates Big Year for Local Food, Kicks Off Even Bigger 2016

PROVIDENCE, RI – 2015 was the biggest year ever for RI FOOD FIGHTS and 2016 will be even bigger. The largest series of food competitions in Southern New England, RI FOOD FIGHTS showcased over 120 local restaurants and food vendors in its fifth year, attracting over 2,200 attendees to a series of three in-person events and selling over 4,900 passports for six virtual events.

The three in-person events – the Great CUPCAKE Championship, the Incredible ICE CREAM Throwdown, and the Spectacular COOKIE Smackdown – drew sold out crowds to Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village and Wayland Square on the East Side of Providence. Competitors offered their best treats, vying to be the overall winner as determined by a panel of industry experts and the People’s Choice, as voted by attendees.

The virtual events put the spotlight on some of Rhode Island’s favorite foods and drinks, including pizza, calamari, and iced coffee. These month-long competitions allow purchasers of coupon-based passports to sample the best from restaurants around the state, with the winner determined by online voting. The results have dramatically increased awareness and engagement with participating businesses. On average 250 visitors visit each restaurant during each event, approximately 70 percent of whom are first-time customers.

RI FOOD FIGHTS also helped the nonprofit community, staging a creative cake decorating competition as part of the Sojourner House’s annual Masquerade Ball fundraiser and donating a portion of the proceeds from the Taco MANIA virtual event to RI Latino Arts.

The schedule for 2016 is jam-packed, with the three in-person events returning in spring (cupcakes), summer (ice cream), and fall (cookies). The number of virtual events will increase to eight, showcasing everything from burgers to tacos to Italian grinders. RI FOOD FIGHTS will also team up with RI Latino Arts again for Taco MANIA in September and Sojourner House for another cake competition in November. A cross-promotion with Millennial Professional Group of RI will spotlight Millennial-owned restaurants in March.

The New Year is already in full swing with the 3rd Annual LORD of the WINGS, a virtual event running through January 31. Over 20 restaurants throughout Rhode Island are participating in the chicken wing competition.

The growth of RI FOOD FIGHTS has been significant over the past five years, and the positive response from local foodies and restaurants alike has been overwhelming. “It was a glorious event that I’ll never forget,” one fan of the Lord of the Pies virtual pizza competition posted on social media. “If you live in Rhode Island and don’t know about RI FOOD FIGHTS, you’re doing it wrong,” commented another. “When I first heard about RI FOOD FIGHTS I knew I had to be a part of it,” said restaurateur Joe Tomaselli of Tomaselli’s at Rosario. “I’ve participated in every event since last year’s Lord of the Wings, and the results speak for themselves: every event brings new customers into my restaurant, and a lot of them keep coming back.”

“There are so many great spots in Rhode Island to have an amazing meal. RI FOOD FIGHTS makes it easier for folks to try brand new places. We are constantly hearing from fans that have a brand new favorite place for pizza, burgers, calamari, or iced coffee!” said founder Jim Nellis. “Last year was huge, this year will be even bigger. We’re hungry for so much more in 2016.”

RI FOOD FIGHTS 2016 Schedule

In-person Events:
March 20*: 5th Annual Great CUPCAKE Championship

June 5*: 5th Annual Incredible ICE CREAM Throwdown

December 5*: 5th Annual Spectacular COOKIE Smackdown

Virtual Events:
Through January 31*: 3rd Annual Lord of the Wings (chicken wings)

February 1-29*: NEW – Italian GRINDER Throwdown

March1-31*: NEW – Millennial Madness w/ Millennial Professional Group of RI (Millennial-owned restaurants)

May 1-31*: 3rd Annual Big BURGER Blowout

July 1-31*: 3rd Annual Iced COFFEE Summer Celebration

August 1-September 30*: 2nd Annual CALAMARI Throwdown

September 15-October 15*: 2nd Annual Taco MANIA

October 1-31*: 3rd Annual Lord of the Pies (pizza)

November (exact date TBD): Creative Cake Competition at Sojourner House Masquerade Ball

*Exact dates subject to change; check rifoodfights.com for updated info

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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