This year's Kai in the Bay is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever, with delicacies such as pheasant burgers, wild hare meatballs, and pork and watercress sausages expected to be on offer.
Founder and organiser Henry Heke said they had sold about 1000 tickets so far, and were expecting final participation numbers of around 5000.
"We're obviously a bit more experienced and we've been out there promoting it," he said of this year's event. "There's a lot more people that know about it.
"We currently don't celebrate enough of Hawke's Bay's foods. We talk about how we're the fruit bowl of New Zealand and the capital, so we need more events like this that will showcase it. While this is a Maori and wild food festival, it's really a food festival."
Now in its third year, Kai in the Bay will be a major part of the inaugural Food and Wine Classic to be held during November 2-11.
"One of our visions when we first [started] was that Hawke's Bay would support Kai in the Bay by celebrating a whole week of food festive ideas and Kai in the Bay became the finale," Mr Heke said. "Hawke's Bay Tourism has embraced that this year and took up that challenge."
There will be a cook-off between six marae, as well as students from local intermediate and high schools taking part in a competition in which they'll whip up a $20 meal for a family of four.
Chefs and celebrities taking part in various cook-offs and demonstrations include former All Blacks Taine Randell and Norm Hewitt, and acclaimed chefs Rex Morgan, Nick Green, Pete Peeti and David Griffiths.
The November 10 event will be alcohol and tobacco free, and tickets can be purchased for $5, or on the day for $10.
Planning for the much anticipated Pie in the Bay competition is also under way, with categories of classic meat, Maori, wild, seafood and specialist to be cooked and judged on the day.
"At Kai in the Bay, you're not expected to see the kind of normal stuff you see downtown," Mr Heke said.
Children under 12 attend for free if accompanied by parents, and activities such as hotrod rides and a zorb ball will also be available.