Food and Beverage Showcase returns for sixth year
By Darren Lum
For the sixth year, the Highlands Food and Beverage Showcase will be bringing savoury flavours and beautiful aromas to Wintergreen Pancake Barn in Gelert.
The event not only promotes culinary tourism in the Highlands, but also raises money for charity; this year’s recipients are Help A Village Effort and Plaid for Dad (a prostate cancer campaign).
Event founders Diane and Tom Dawson are hosting the event at Wintergreen Pancake Barn, located at 3325 Gelert Road in Minden Hills from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 15.
After five years, Diane said the event has raised some $30,000 for charities, averaging close to $5,000 for the five hour event. The money comes from admission, donations and the silent auction.
The organizers are most proud to see the people who come to the event each year.
“The people who keep coming back year after year,” Diane said. “Amazing loyalty and wanting to see this thing through.”
Diane has been involved with HAVE, a locally based charity that funds water projects in India, in the past and the showcase has raised funds for it since the beginning. This year she also wanted to raise money and bring attention to Plaid for Dad, which started five years ago. The timing of the event, the day before Father’s Day was ideal, she said. Past local recipients have included food banks, children’s programs, mothers’ programs, and Fuel for Warmth Haliburton County.
Event goers will get to indulge in craft beer, ice cream, pastries and hot food, as well as a silent auction and live music.
This year’s event will have more vendors and more variety than ever.
Two dozen vendors have confirmed attendance so far. Among them are new caterers, a new brewery based in Irondale and the new cafe, Eat! in Minden. Minden-based business, Raisin the Root, will offer vegan and gluten free options.
Keeping the showcase going hasn’t been easy, but it’s been satisfying for the Dawsons, who consider it a part of promoting the Highlands culinary scene.
“It’s a tourism pillar of this community. It’s really important. A lot of people make their livelihoods [from it]. There are a lot of young people getting into farming,” Diane said. “People have to find out about them.”
The cost is $20 per person (16 years plus) and is $50 per family. Admission includes food from all vendors as well as live music. Diane said a family “is whatever you think you can afford. If you want to spend $50 for your family. If you think maybe you should spend a bit more ... We don’t want to exclude anybody. We want families here. It’s Father’s Day weekend.”
Organizers suggest bringing your own cutlery, plate, lawn chair and bug spray. This year there is an emphasis on discouraging disposable single-use water bottles and a hope that event goers can bring re-usable water bottles.
The Dawsons were happy town crier John Webster would be coming for a third time.
“He is the guy for town crying in North America,” Diane said.
Webster is a winner of the International Town Crier Competition and is an official town crier for the City of Markham, the town of Aurora, East Gwillimbury and Cary, North Carolina.
The live music begins at 11 a.m. with Custom Blend, followed by Nick Russell (who follows speeches) at 12:15, Minden Times/Haliburton Echo reporter Chad Ingram at 1 p.m., bagpipers and Scottish dancers at 1:45 p.m., Marie Watson at 2:30 p.m. and ends with Shout Sisters at 3:30 p.m.
Diane said this event has always been about showcasing all the culinary options in the Highlands in one location.
“People want to eat well and we should be eating well. There’s no reason why we can’t eat well up here,” she said.
Reserve your tickets ahead of time by contacting Diane Dawson at 705-286-3202 or at dawson.wintergreen@sympatico.
See more information at www.highlandsfoodfest.com.