GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Although cold weather is lingering in the forecast into next week, the majority of snow in the Glens Falls area is gone as of this week. That melting comes just in time for an event long in need of thawing out.

The Glens Falls Shirt Factory is hosting the return of the Winter Meltdown Spicy Food Festival this Saturday, March 26. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., restaurants and food trucks will be gathering outside the Shirt Factory building to turn up the heat for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival was originally set for last weekend, but delayed due to rain.

The dozen or so eateries coming to the corner of Lawrence and Cooper streets include local restaurants like Farmacy, as well as regulars from the Shirt Factory’s weekly summer food truck corrals, like Vashti’s Kitchen Delights. The festival’s name doesn’t lie – every restaurant taking part will focus on spicy flavors.

A portion of all proceeds from the festival go to the Open Door Mission’s backpack program. The program feeds 49 Glens Falls children every week, partnering with the city’s elementary schools.

Through the program, kids receive backpacks with enough food for between 4 and 6 meals, including healthy snacks and cards and Stewart’s half-gallon milk cards. Food comes from local grocery stores, as well as individual and corporate donations, and contributions from the Regional Food Bank. Glens Falls City School determines who is eligible to receive backpacks.

The full list of vendors attending this year’s Winter Meltdown Spicy Food Festival includes:

  • Ed’s Kettle Corn
  • Farmacy
  • Greenfield’s Forever
  • The Hungry Traveler
  • The Mac Factor
  • Miller’s Backyard BBQ
  • Mr. Potato
  • Pies On Wheels
  • Rick’s Hot Sauce Experience & More
  • Say Cheez 518
  • Slavonian European Cafe
  • Vashti’s Kitchen Delights

The final list of vendors on Saturday may be subject to change. Restaurants are featured on the Shirt Factory Facebook page. Meanwhile, Rock Hill Bookhouse, adjacent to the main Shirt Factory building, will be selling 25 cent CDs, $1 records and 50-75% off books.

Profits helping Ukraine relief

One restaurant, Troy-based Slavonian European Cafe, is coming in with an additional mission, besides serving up the spiciest eats possible. Shirt Factory owner Eric Unkauf is covering the restaurant’s participation fees and donations to the Open Door backpack program, so that the family behind the business can retrieve three family members living in Ukraine.

According to a post by Unkauf on Facebook, restaurant owner Nataliya’s daughter, son and granddaughter need help to get safe passage to the U.S. from Poland, where they have fled from Ukraine as the occupation by Russian forces continue. The family has set up a GoFundMe that has already raised over $10,000 for the family, and all money made by the restaurant on Saturday will continue that support. The family has already paid $6,000 in visa costs and expenses to keep those family members safe in Poland for the last two weeks.

“If you have been to one of our events in the last 4 years and had perogies, stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers, lamb shanks or potato pancakes, then you probably have bought food from the Slavonian European Cafe, and enjoyed some of Nataliya’s cooking,” Unkauf wrote. “I am guessing if you are familiar with those foods and ate them as a kid (as I did), you probably have some Slavic ancestry in your family, help some fellow Slavs out and contribute to the GoFundMe and/or stop on by next Saturday and enjoy some food from her booth.”

Restaurants in the region have stepped up in support of Ukrainian refugees as the occupation continues. A group of Lake George restaurants has been raising money online and in-person throughout the month of March.