Like a good host, Vankleek Hill welcomed thousands of guests on Sunday for the 19th annual Festival of Flavours. Visitors were warmly greeted by dozens of volunteers, including local firefighters and cadets. They coordinated traffic and directed visitors to Main Street, where 77 vendors lined the street with foods and delicacies of all kinds. Down the centre of the street, which was closed for the event, was a 320-foot long table, which got an 80-foot long extension this year.
There was everything from Himalayan dumplings, to local craft beer, sweets, stews and more.
“The guy who shocked me the most was Robert Poirier from Les Fruits du Poirier. During the festival he hands me a bunch of green grapes. They weren’t the same size as grapes from Peru, or California, but the taste was just unbelievable. They are grown just ten kilometers down the road in St-Eugène,” said event coordinator Phil Arber, of Excellent Events.
Arber says that without the support and patience of the community, there would be no food festival. During the event, driveways are blocked, circulation is problematic and residents living on Main Street are faced with a massive influx of visitors. The population of Vankleek Hill hovers at around 2,000 people. This year Arber estimates that the Festival of Flavours attracted more than 5,500 visitors, swelling the population for the day and filling the local businesses and shops with visitors. Cars filled every parking lot in town and people were walking shoulder-to-shoulder down the street. Arber refers to it as one of the best year’s the festival has ever had.
“Some people say that it takes a community to raise a child. In this case it took an entire village to put on a festival,” said Arber.
Arber credits local residents and businesses for keeping the power on during the festival, which depends on electrical hook-ups to various houses and businesses along the festival route.
“We’re an inconvenient pain, but the people put up with it. Without their support, it couldn’t be done. Considering the weather conditions at 6 a.m., when it was cold and windy, what happened here Sunday was nothing short of a miracle,” said Arber.