Have Fork Will Travel: Exploring Canadian Food Festivals


by Stacy Wyatt.

The best way to experience a culture is through the exploration of its culinary scene.

Culinary tourism or food tourism is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience. Dining out is the most popular activity for travelers and food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery in importance to tourists.

The explosion of food as entertainment is mind blowing in terms of dollars spent and time invested. Food also dominates social media and is the absolute most posted topic over politics, sex and yes even trump.

We could fill five issues with the amount of food events we discovered through researching this article, but we only had a few pages left in this packed issue so we decided, since our focus is events, we would leave the food blogging to the experts and offer up a few of our  most favorite food events from across Canada. These may not be the biggest or the most unique, they may not be the strangest, but they are some of the most popular, most innovative and the most fun.

We’re not done yet. We are so intrigued with food events right now that in the next issue we are going to continue this gastro investigation with more fresh ideas for food and design.

For now we suggest you GPS these events and start planning your food trip.

Toronto Veg Food Fest, ON

The 32nd Toronto Veg Food Fest was the most successful one yet, with a record breaking attendance of over 50,000 guests. Foodies came together at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto to savour the very best in plant-based fare. Tasty dishes from over 140 local vendors, restaurants and bakeries, plus free workshops, live music programmed by Toronto Downtown Jazz, cooking demonstrations, and a ton of veg-friendly products— the Fest truly offered something for everyone. Guests gathered to celebrate explosive innovation in today’s vegan industry, and learned from the pros in vegan cooking, animal rights, health and nutrition and more. They got to learn tips and tricks from the culinary masters at various cooking demonstrations, as top vegan chefs and home cooks created their own versions of traditional vegan foods.

Website: www.vegfoodfest.com

Chocolate Fest, St.Stephen, NB

If you love chocolate, then it makes sense to visit the Chocolate festival put on by the company that’s been Canada’s favourite candy family since 1873; GANONG. Explore dozens of chocolate inspired events including themed dinners, chocolate making and even the lounges for unique Choctails. This delicious festival is all about letting yourself indulge a little in one of life’s greatest pleasures… sweet sweet chocolate.

Website: www.chocolate-fest.ca

Feast of Tofino, BC

Tofino is a small town on the very west coast of Vancouver Island. A relaxed community with a fast growing food culture. Feast Tofino celebrates local, sustainable fisheries and is a collaboration between acclaimed local and regional guest chefs, restaurants, fishermen, foragers and farmers. All of whom celebrate ‘boat-to-table’ food philosophy and believe in great food, simple ingredients and good times. Festival goers are treated to the very best local and international guest chefs who travel to the small community to create one of a kind, fresh caught/picked/cured dishes.

Website: www.feasttofino.com

Lobster Clam Jam, Montreal

Considering it’s in May, and it’s in Montreal, this world class seafood festival is one of a kind. If you are a lobsterphile, this is the place for you, but if you just love great Canadian food, this festival offers a premiere culinary experience.  It’s is an affordable, family-oriented, event showcasing a variety of renowned local restaurants, giving guests the opportunity to experience a wide selection of meat, fowl, game, fish and of course, lobster and shellfish.  It is also happens to be one of the coolest events ever, and we mean cool as in hip, urban and ultra trendy! Chic festival goers turn out in thousands to drink, party and  they also look fantastic.

Website: www.lobsterclamjam.com

Jadyn Tulchinsky, of Brentwood, spreads butter on an ear of bi-colored roasted corn for $3 at the 2016 Brentwood Harvest Time Festival on Sunday, July 10, 2016 in Brentwood, Calif. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Morden Corn & Apple Festival, MB

If you are looking for a warm and welcoming, traditional agri fair, look no further than the Morden Corn and Apple Festival in Morden, MB. Celebrating the spirit of this heartland, where the long and warm growing season has made it the corn and apple belt of Canada, this down-home country festival boasts big time hospitality. They pride themselves on offering free corn on the cob and free apple juice for festival goers to enjoy while they sample dozens of home-grown, homemade dishes.  This is a true Canadian country festival you have to see.

Website: www.cornandapple.com

Burlington RibFest, ON

There are Ribfests and then there is Canada’s Largest RibFest. It’s all about the sticky, sweet, spicy, succulent, fall off the bone, ribs, chicken and sausage, washed down with cold beer and a couple of crazy good sides. That’s RibFest at Spencer Smith Park in Burlington where 19 award winning ribbers from all over North America gather to complete for the best blend. A family friendly fun, musical entertainment, event that will make your mouth water the second you step out of the car. You can literally taste them in the air from miles away. You MUST go to this event.

Website: www.canadaslargestribfest.com

Fall Flavours, PEI

The Fall Flavours Festival is a unique culinary adventure highlighting authentic Prince Edward Island tastes & traditions. Incredible food, delightful venues, entertaining hosts, one-of-a-kind experiences. Some of the most fabulous and intimate food experiences you can imagine. Signature events feature the very best PEI has to offer.  Join local hosts and pick potatoes, catch lobsters, harvest oysters or head off to Culinary Boot Camp. All samples of hands on experiences/participatory Events that let you enjoy food from the source. If you are thirsty attend the brewmasters dinner with PEI produced handcrafted beers. And those are just for starters.

Website: www.fallflavours.ca

Montreal Omnivore Food Festival

This is the mother of all food events. Honestly, if you attend ONE foodie event a year it has to be this one. Even for Montrealers who know their food culture, this was an impressive showing. The four day non stop event features 15 chefs, masterclasses, lectures, demos, unique dinner parties, and the hottest event of the festival, the Omnivorous Party. The final day,  the world class chefs take over the SAT to serve the ultimate meals.

Website: www.omnivore.com

BBQ on the Bow, Calgary

Canada’s oldest sanctioned BBQ competition draws grilled meat fans from around the world. The BBQ on the Bow takes place in Calgary in early September and might be one of our favorites, featuring more than 40 vendors grilling pork, chicken and beef. We had no idea BBQ was a sport.Did you know that there are courses to become certified BBQ judges and that there is Canadian BBQ Society? Next time you order some smoked bones, ask about the sauce, you might just be in the presence of BBQ Greatness.

Website: www.bbqonthebow.com

Cornucopia, BC

This event lives up to its name. Cornucopia is Whistler’s yearly food and drink festival that happens over the course of 10 days and it happens… on a mountain top. Foodies delight in the ultimate cooking experiences with everything from out of this world, gastronomic genius dishes, one-of-a-kind chef dinners, cocktail worships (sorry we mean workshops), engaging debate about food design, wine tastings and so much more. If you find yourself with some free time in-between eating, learning and all-round merriment, make sure to pop in to Bearfoot Bistro’s signature ice bar (don’t worry, they’ll give you a big, warm jacket) for a cocktail or two.

Website: www.whistlercornucopia.com

Great Saskatchewan Mustard Fest, SK

This event, believe it or not has been celebrating Canada’s favourite condiment for 10  years. It all started with the idea to showcase the great local culinary talent to be found in Regina and to showcasing an ingredient that represents 80% of the mustard grown for global export. Thousands of people turn out to taste crazy dishes made from the yellow gold, have a beer, and enjoy some family friendly entertainment.

Website: www.mustardfest.org