Browsing articles in "food festivals"
May 29, 2014
Tina George

The top 10 food events in Toronto for summer 2014

summer food eventsThe top food events in Toronto this summer will take advantage of the warmer months by packing in as much al fresco dining as possible. Things are just heating up with night markets, festivals and food truck rallys all on the horizon. And this is in addition to the numerous street festivals coming to a neighbourhood near you in the coming months.

Here are my picks for the top food events and festivals taking place this summer in Toronto.

Market 707′s Flavours of the City
This recurring series will liven up the work week on the third Thursday of every summer month. The next instalment takes place June 19 and will be a fish-themed night where you can catch your own dinner in the swimming pool-turned-fresh water fish pond and then have it cooked up at one of the cargo container food stalls. It’s the urban alternative to going to the Niagara River without the time commitment or possibility of spotting beavers.

Central Regional Barista Competition
Taking place June 19 to 22 at the brand new Propeller Roastery near Bloor and Lansdowne, this competitive demonstration will show off the espresso-making excellence of Toronto’s best baristas as well as those from around the province. Here’s a look back at the 2011 edition to get a sense of what to expect. The winner will move on to the national finals in September at the Canadian Coffee Tea Show (also in Toronto).

PintxosTO
From the team behind Toronto’s first ever dim sum festival comes this celebration of Barcelona-style tapas at an outdoor venue on King West. Details are sparse at the time of this writing but if you’re a fan of Bar Isabel, Patria and Toronto’s other top Spanish spots be sure to mark Sunday July 6th down in your calendars. Expect details, location and ticket sales to be announced via Twitter soon.

Taste of Toronto
After taking London, Milan and Moscow by storm, this global food event makes its first appearance in Toronto at Fort York on July 24th to 27th. The highly anticipated festival will bring together 20 big-name restaurants (including Grand Electric and Barque Smokehouse) for lunch and dinner sessions featuring special menus and starter sized tasting plates. General admission is $30 for the culinary showcase promising demos, an interactive tasting room and an artisan marketplace.

Toronto Ribfest
One of many regional BBQ cook offs happening throughout the summer, the most popular edition takes place at Centennial Park over the Canada Day long weekend from June 27th to July 1st. Along with an endless supply of smoke-infused, sauce-slathered meats, expect the festival to feature live entertainment, a midway and even a World Cup-watching area. If you miss this one, you can also catch Ribfests in Markham (July 4th to 6th), Scarborough (August 2nd to 5th) and a Beaches edition (June 13th to 15th).

Night it Up
Don’t worry if you weren’t lucky enough to snag a ticket to The Stop’s sold-out event this spring, there are more night markets to come. Night it Up is the big one. Crowds are insane and line-ups can be excruciating but where else are you going to get street food in Toronto that looks like this? Like past years, Night It Up goes down over three nights at the Markham Civic Centre (101 Town Centre Boulevard) from July 11th to 13th. For downtown dwellers who don’t want to head north, be sure to check out the smaller (but getting bigger and better every year) TT Night Market on July 25th to 27th in the Port Lands.

JerkFest
Now in its 13th year, this well seasoned (sorry) event will get you jumping at Centennial Park in Etobicoke on August 9th and 10th. Indulge in a Hot Spicy Jerk Chicken Eating Competition or the So You Think You Can Jerk Competition, plus workshops, demos and opportunities to sample everything from jerk chicken and pork to alligator and frogs legs.

The Toronto Underground Market
In case you missed the one earlier this month, TUM is set to return to 99 Sudbury for monthly instalments featuring an always exciting and evolving list of local food and drink vendors. This is ground zero for local chefs to try out and refine new recipes and concoctions before they go big time. In September, the food fest celebrates its 3-year anniversary but if you only go to one TUM all summer make it the August 10 edition as it’s being hailed as the first ever Sunday brunch-themed TUM set to go down between 11am and 4pm.

TO Food Fest
This feeding frenzy featuring top culinary talents and emerging new food vendors will return for its third year on Sunday, August 10th. For those not attending TUM that day (or who want to double up on their Sunday food fest fun), be sure to take a big appetite to the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto (5183 Sheppard Avenue East) between 1pm and 6pm. From camel burgers to awesome Indonesian street food, feast your eyes on this round-up of what went down at the 2013 edition.

AwesTRUCK 2014
Even though the rain made last year’s annual food truck extravaganza a bit of a bust, I couldn’t resist including at least one food truck event on this year’s summer round-up. Coming in at the tail end of the summer, the food truck rally has moved west from Fort York to new digs just outside the city at Celebration Square in Mississauga (yes, I know that’s not technically in Toronto). Admission is free and the award ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 6th. Expect many tacos and other gourmet food truck fare to be consumed although a full list of the 40 or so trucks participating is yet to be announced. For more food truck events, keep an eye on torontofoodtrucks.ca.

What did I miss? Plug your favourite summer food events in the comments below.


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Thanks to Pure Leaf for sponsoring our summer adventures. For more things to do this summer, check out our Best of Summer page.

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May 29, 2014
Tina George

Three Boston Food Festivals to Check Out This June – About

This photo shows a banner sign for the Food Truck Festivals of New EnglandFood, glorious food … if you’re looking for an excuse to pig out, June in Boston provides it. Here are just three food festivals scheduled around town this month (check out 10 festivals in June to see even more).

Bring your appetite for one (or all) of the following feasts.

Continue reading »

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May 28, 2014
Tina George

The country’s coolest local food festivals

  • Strawberry Festival

  • Nan Moore

  • Copper River Wild! Salmon Jam Music Festival

  • Vermont Cheesefest

As if we weren’t already looking forward to beach weather and alfresco grilling, the summer also brings a plethora of destination-worthy alfresco eating events. From coast to coast, these are the food-centric festivities we’re most excited for this season.

  • 1.nbspStrawberry Festival

    Strawberry Festival

    Where: Oxnard, CA

    Dates: May 17–18

    Between traditional dishes (shortcakes, salads) and offbeat riffs (pizza, nachos, and even beer), roughly 1.5 million of the namesake juicy red berries get consumed over the course of this fruit fete. In addition to the myriad edibles, festivalgoers can partake in tart tosses, eating contests, relay races, and a hat-decorating contest. Feel-good bonus: All ticket proceeds benefit more than 20 local charities.

  • 2.nbspGeorgia Peach Festival

    Nan Moore

    Where: Fort Valley, GA

    Dates: June 6–7, 13–14

    More than 10,000 visitors head to this annual celebration of the state’s iconic fruit. Though events include live music performances, a kooky cross-dressing beauty pageant, and 3D fireworks, the main attraction is the unveiling (and subsequent eating) of a humongous cobbler that measures 11 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 8 inches deep. We won’t tell you how much butter or sugar it contains (hint: a lot), but we will say that the peaches weigh in at a hefty 75 gallons.

  • 3.nbspCopper River Wild! Salmon Jam Music Festival

    Copper River Wild! Salmon Jam Music Festival

    Where: Shelburne Farms, VT

    Dates: July 18–19

    Equal parts arts-and-crafts jubilee and sustainable seafood bonanza, this two-day event also encompasses several fun runs and a cook-off. Both days are capped off by performances by local bluegrass and folk bands.

  • 4.nbspVermont Cheesemakers Festival

    Vermont Cheesefest

    Where: Shelburne Farms, VT

    Date: July 20

    Calories and cholesterol will be the furthest things from your mind as you wander from booth to booth during this dairy extravaganza, sampling ultra creamy Bries, firm sharp cheddars, mild goat cheeses, and pungent Roqueforts from more than 40 award-winning creameries. Refresh your palate with sips from local wineries, breweries, and distilleries, and expand your horizons with cooking and cheesemaking demos.

    Check out more of America’s best food festivals.

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May 26, 2014
Tina George

Evolving music trends spark growth of festivals at venues across valley – Las Vegas Review

Pat Christenson remembers the old days — a mere three years ago — when there was not a single multiday outdoor music festival in Las Vegas.

Now Christenson glows with pride when he ticks off the growing number of music festivals that have picked Las Vegas as their home. And there are more to come, with event promoters and venue owners preparing announcements for new area events.

From the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the Electric Daisy Carnival will be holding its annual blowout in June, to downtown Las Vegas where Life is Beautiful was launched in 2013, to points south along the Strip, monster music festivals are finding Las Vegas and its host properties financially attractive.

“Three years ago we had no outdoor music festivals in Las Vegas and now by 2015 we will sell a million tickets at festivals along the Strip,” Christenson said. “They are putting together music with food and art and creating events that are bigger than just a concert.”

The latest music festival to join the lineup is Rock in Rio. It’s part of a minitrend within the broader music festival trend — a major hotel-casino company investing in the music festival business to take advantage of dusty parking lot holdings along the Las Vegas Boulevard corridor.

In the case of Rock in Rio, MGM Resorts International, with Cirque du Soleil and investment company The Yucaipa Cos., is converting 40 acres into a permanent $20 million open-air concert venue for 80,000 fans at the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. MGM Resorts will oversee construction, with the venue’s goal of hosting the biannual event in May 2015, 2017 and 2019. Brazilian entrepreneur Roberto Medina is the festival founder.

The Rock in Rio site is what MGM Resorts is calling the “North Lot.” Tickets for next year’s Rock in Rio are expected to cost $150 per day. Rock in Rio organizers are expected to spend $60 million to produce the event, said Chris Baldizan, MGM Resorts senior vice president of entertainment.

In 2013, MGM Resorts used another empty lot on the south end of the Strip across from the Luxor — or the 13-acre “South Lot” — to host outdoor music activities related to the iHeartRadio Music Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

MGM Resorts spent $4 million to $5 million to level the parking lot, which was used for overflow parking by Luxor and Excalibur employees, and to also install water, power, sewer and Wi-Fi, Baldizan said.

Although camping is a feature of many multiday music festivals, Baldizan said MGM will be providing the ultimate form of lodging for festivalgoers — the thousands of hotel rooms available in neighboring MGM properties such as Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, New York-New York and MGM Grand.

MGM Resorts is also fresh off a milestone groundbreaking of a new $375 million, 20,000-seat arena behind New York-New York. MGM Chief Executive Jim Murren said today’s entertainment consumers are collecting experiences like kids collecting baseball cards a generation ago. More and more tourists — especially the younger 18-to-30 millennial demographic — want to explore and not be tied to a set schedule, Murren said.

That outlook can easily be applied to the advent of the music festivals up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, where both tourists and locals are seeking more outdoor options that allow for spontaneous decisions.

“We want guests to be in a casino, but we can’t expect them to be in there 12 hours a day. They want to move from activity to activity and be outdoors,” Baldizan said.

MGM Resorts’ main Strip rival, Caesars Entertainment Corp., has also started using vacant property to stage festivals. Just last month, Caesars used a lot behind the High Roller observation wheel and the Linq for an outdoor, two-day Academy of Country Music festival that drew 40,000 fans.

Jason Gastwirth, Caesars’ vice president of entertainment, said he expects more events to be staged outdoors on the site, which is between the High Roller on the west and Koval Lane on the east. He said the 19-acre site can accommodate up to 90,000 people, with events ranging from motocross to food festivals.

“It’s a perfect site. It’s the 50-yard line on the Strip,” Gastworth said. He added that visitors can reach the site via the monorail, or through the Linq.

Event organizers and fans can enjoy the illuminated High Roller, serving as a backdrop for the open festival site, he said.

“The strategy is to bring the best entertainment to Vegas in large gatherings and capitalize on the trend of music and food and how people like to experience it,” Gastwirth said.

The man behind the Electric Daisy Carnival, Pascuale Rotella, said he has talked with MGM Resorts and Caesars about their outdoor venue lots along the Strip corridor, as well as owners of other off-Strip locations to host two music events.

Rotella said he plans to stage a Nocturnal Wonderland event in 2014 and a Beyond Wonderland event in 2015. The locations, dates and ticket information will be released soon, he said.

Rotella said the open festival lots owned by MGM and Caesars are ideal for promoters, letting them use the sites as blank canvases for staging different types of shows and festivals.

“We can change up the environment and create a different experience,” Rotella said. “It’s like going to a different venue.”

Event promoters also said the festival locations are ideal venues to showcase the growing variety of music genres that have grabbed the attention of fans and consumers.

“The music business has changed,” Baldizan said. “There are so many types of music. There’s alternative music that’s just as popular as quote-unquote mainstream music, and festivals are a great way to experience it.”

The way fans “experience” music festivals and venues is changing, too.

“If you look at the growing popularity, instead of going to traditional concerts, people want to see music bands and are looking for unique experiences,” Christenson said. “This is something Europe has been doing for 20 or 30 years and you can look at the recent successes at Coachella and Bonnaroo.”

And the key for the music festival growth in Las Vegas is that each festival has its own unique story line, Christenson said.

“We were not in the music festival business three years ago and now we will have five events along Las Vegas Boulevard with different themes and properties,” he said.

Rehan Choudhry, founder of Life is Beautiful, said Las Vegas is just catching up with the movement.

“The reason for the delayed entry (EDC in 2011, Life is Beautiful in 2013 and Rock in Rio in 2015) is that so many Las Vegas festivals failed in the past. And rather than digging into the real reasons for those failures, the entertainment industry generalized that Vegas wasn’t a viable festival market,” said Choudhry, the former Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas director of entertainment and special events; former Caesars Entertainment regional director of marketing, partnerships and development; and founder of the Food Network’s Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival.

“What do we know today? That Las Vegas is a world-renowned entertainment destination that continues to innovate in the experiential event arena. It always has been. From the days of the Rat Pack in lounges, to the introduction of resident headliners and Cirque du Soleil, Vegas sets the global bar for entertainment development,” Choudhry said.

“And now we are doing it with festivals. By 2015, you will have the greatest EDM experience, the world’s largest music festival, and an inspirational lifestyle festival all in the heart of Las Vegas. And, I assure you, we’re just getting started,” he said.

Electric Daisy Carnival has showed that Las Vegas is a viable market and can accommodate the big crowds that festivals attract, Rotella said.

“We’ve done it,” he said. “We’ve proven the case.”

Choudhry noted that demand sparked Life is Beautiful to lengthen by a day.

“We are so much more than just a music festival,” he said. “By speaking to four different audiences for one event, we have more people wanting more of what they enjoyed. So we are booking more bands, more chefs, more art and more speakers and needed an entire third day to fit it all in.

“Our focus is on growing this festival exponentially, all while establishing a broader sense of purpose for Life is Beautiful as a brand. To put it another way, the festival is just one part of the message. You can expect to see a lot of unexpected new ways to interact with Life is Beautiful in addition to the three-day festival,” he said.

Choudhry also expects MGM Resorts and Caesars to increase the use of their vacant properties as locations for music festivals.

“I think MGM Resorts and Caesars are going to create a lot of additional opportunity, attention and revenue for the city,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing what they introduce.”

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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