Picky eaters, foodies and people who simple like to eat, are all welcome at the 19th edition of Vankleek Hill’s Festival of Flavours. With more than 70 vendors offering dozens of types of food, there is sure to be something to tempt everyone’s palate.
The Festival of Flavours will take place on Sunday, September 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Main Street East, from High Street to near Jay Street will be closed for the event and a 400-foot long table will be installed down the centre of the road. Vendor booths will line the table on both sides, representing 22 different ethnic cuisines, desserts, coffees and teas. The Vert Fourchette Bistro and Windsor Tavern will both be participating in the festival, as will numerous other local businesses, including Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company.
Sam’s Kitchen, which closed its Vankleek Hill location earlier this summer, will be returning with a catering kiosk. They will be serving Mocossin Joe’s Coffee and some of Sam’s traditional home cooking.
“We’re overbooked. It’s never happened to us before that we have had more vendors asking for space than we had planned for. We have lots of new people who found us online, or heard about our event and want to participate,” said festival organizer Phil Arber of Excellent Events.
A few of the new vendors include “The Grumpy Butcher” from Montreal and a new chocolate maker from St-Pascal de Pavilion.
The Festival of Flavours is presented by the Vankleek Hill Farmers Market. It serves as the main fundraiser for the market, offsetting insurance and other costs incurred by the non-for-profit organization.
“It’s our festival to make money and to keep the market going. It helps us to keep fees low for our members and to help local businesses. Hopefully the weather will be really good this year and we will have lots of visitors,” said Vankleek Hill Farmers Market spokesperson Laurie McClintock.
Chef Bruce Wood is working with the Vankleek Hill Farmers Market to present a special menu featuring local ingredients. His menu will include bratwurst sausage patties made from rare breed pork. The pork is being provided by the Pickle Patch Farm, in Vankleek Hill and the Horizon Hog Farm, in Martintown.
“What we forget as consumers is that there is not one all-purpose animal. Different breeds serve different purposes. With pork, some types were raised for bacon and sausage, while others were for the table, for roasting and cooking. In our modern culture, we think we should have all-purpose everything,” said Wood. He encourages consumers to eat seasonally and locally and to experiment with local products.
Wood’s sausage patties will be accompanied by a roasted vegetable salad. He says that he is unsure of the exact ingredients, as he is waiting to see what fresh offerings are available at the market at the time of the festival. Barley berries are a grain he intends to add to the salad. They are locally-sourced, good for your health and Wood says they are also delicious.
The Festival of Flavours was founded in 1997 by Mary Hatz. At the time, she was operating “Mary’s Country Kitchen,” which was located on Main Street, in Vankleek Hill. She launched the “International Food Festival,” with her friend, Elsie Corcoran. The first year, the festival attracted six kiosks located outside of the restaurant. It has grown ever since.
“The festival has become a big deal. It’s right there on Main Street, with all of the beauty of Vankleek Hill and its gingerbread architecture. We’re promoting local food, but we’re also promoting the town,” said Arber.
If you’re looking for music, dancers and entertainment, Arber says you’re out of luck.
“We feel the food is the entertainment and that’s why we want you to come and that’s what we want you to enjoy,” said Arber.