Seventy food vendors and artisans took over Vankleek Hill’s Main Street on Sunday… which was great, because there were about 8,000 tourists in town looking for something to do at the same time.
And those 8,000 very fine people had a selection of food from newly stuffed Italian Sausages, to Himalayan dumplings and Asian tacos, to local honey, vegan taquitos, and freshly carved deer meat… basically there was a huge amount of variety and choices for lunch.
There was also a bunch of classic cars on display, live music acts, Zumba and Flamenco dancing exhibitions, the local Farmer’s Market got into the act, and there was even a garlic festival at the Community Centre.
I’m not sure how long the Vankleek Hill Festival of Flavours has been going on… I believe this was the eighth year, but it could be much longer. The Food Fest used to be a small part of another festival called ‘The May Show’, which is now called ‘The Victoria Day Heritage Something or Other Festival’. Or something like that.
The May Show, which started back in 1978, was an exhibition of art and music that took over our town for a weekend every year. It wasn’t unusual to have 10,000 people in town over the weekend. For art. But the group of local artists who inspired it stopped taking part, and it lost its focus.
So the organizers started throwing new things into the weekend to keep it relevant. It kind of became a testing ground for other ideas. The Food Fest came out of it, so did a Craft Show that ran for a while, there were a few other small fests that didn’t do as well. I think there was an attempt at a ‘Bring Your Dog To Main Street Day’ as well.
That’s one of the wonderful things about Vankleek Hill, a village of 2,100 fun-loving people halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, there are spin-offs. People are given the opportunity to try new and big things by first testing them out in someone else’s festival.
There’s even a ‘FarmFest’ music festival now, that brings in heavy metal acts from across Canada and the US for a three days of loud music and head banging. It’s only in its second or third year, so it’s not well attended yet, but the organizers have been given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merit.
…anyway. The woman in red is Samme Putzel, and she’s one of the founders and organizers of the Food Fest. She was also around for the original May Show, and she’s the author of a pack of poetry books, and mystery novels.
…click on a photo to get the carousel going: