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Aug 14, 2010 09:10 PM

Conscious Food Festival (August 14 and 15), anyone go/reviews?

This festival continues tomorrow (Sunday). Did anyone go today? Wondering if it is worthwhile or not:

Might not make it out but I am curious how it was and will keep an eye out for next year if I don't end up going tomorrow.

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  1. I went yesterday and while I liked the quality of the vendors, I was underwhelmed by the numbers of stalls. I guess that after attending the Green Show and having all of those fantastic tastings there I was expecting something that would be on par with that. If I did not receive comps to attend, I would have felt that this was a very overpriced event.

    Marben, Cowbell, Grindhouse, and Ancaster Mill were some of the vendors that I remember. I had a fantastic pork sandwich at the Grindhouse. Came on lovely foccacia with greens and goat's cheese.

    If they repeat this next year, it's important to have better signage so that people know which things are free samples (few) and how many tickets are required for a tasting or a sampling. I do hope that they work out some of the kinks and have more vendors. One of the problems might just be timing. Summers aren't the best time for this event as farmers would be busy with market time and perhaps this would have deterred them from participating. I would have liked to have seen more items available for purchase.

    What I did enjoy was being able to walk through Fort York buildings and see the kitchen which was open for business. The volunteers were serving a lovely curried cabbage side dish. I also got to speak to the volunteer gardener who has a number of heritage plants going in the back. If you happen to go, seek her out if you are mad about gardening. She spoke to the history of the food that would have been served as well as her reasons for selecting some of the items in the back.

    488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

    1. We attended the festival on Saturday and while we enjoyed the food and wines we sampled, we did not feel the event had enough to offer to justify the cost of admission. Recognizing this was a debut event, I think organizer's should have priced tickets accordingly knowing they had kinks to work out.

      Some hi-lights were: - The poutine of roasted new potatoes with a scrumptious onion-thyme gravy and Prince Edward County cheese curds was a real stand-out from Spencer's, Grindhouse pork sliders were perfectly cooked and very tasty, Sprucewood's savoury cookies were a great compliment to the wines, Fifth-town's cheese plate (Operetta crottin-style goat was fabulous!), The Grange and Southbrook wineries had the festival's best wine offerings and, friendly, knowledgeable service. It was nice to meet owners and chefs at certain booths. Cooking demos/information sessions were informative. Entertainment added a nice ambiance.

      Areas for improvement: Poorly organized, we arrived shortly after 11am and gates were not yet open. No benefit for buying tickets ahead as we were in the same line as folks purchasing tickets. When we were allowed in, most booths were not ready to serve food or drinks (kegs not working, food not prepared, electricity not yet set up). Some advertised vendors were a no show (Vertical for example). Having attended numerous wine events, I was very surprised and disappointed to be charged a premium to "sample" wines. I object to being charged $1-$2 for a 1oz sample of a $12.95 bottle of wine. No site maps/signage on-site. So few attendees it really didn't have a "festival" atmosphere. The up side to this was you were able to chat with vendors and receive immediate service. Bottles of wine not available for purchase on-site. Pre-event advertising recommended you bring your market bags to stock up on all the festival had to offer but in reality, there was very little product available for purchase. No taxis on-site for post-show departures. We'd also hoped to see more booths and/or farmers with information on the conscious food movement, sustainability.

      Overall, the concept was terrific but the festival organizers fell short on execution.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        I was also dismayed with the parking charge. The cost was $20 for event parking. I agree with you that the entry fee was just too much.

        Hope that the organizers try again but look at some of the feedback.

        1. re: Zengarden

          We cycled down and so didn't have to deal with any parking issues.

          The food was excellent... particularly Cowbell's, Vertical's, Rosebud's, and Marben's.

          It was a good atmosphere, albeit a little sparsely populated... the barbershop quartet, Finegrind were splendid entertainment.

          488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA