A new food-sampling festival planned to debut this fall has been cancelled due to ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
The inaugural Flavours of Airdrie event was scheduled to take place Sept. 13 at Nose Creek Regional Park, but according to organizer Vanessa Logan, the event had to be nixed because it would not have complied with Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines.
“Due to COVID, AHS basically won’t allow anyone outside of food trucks to set up any kind of booth, or they’re only allowed to be in restaurants,” she said.
The cancellation of Flavours of Airdrie comes after the event that inspired it – Taste of Okotoks – moved to a virtual, delivery-based format for 2020. Other nearby communities including Bragg Creek and Chestermere also cancelled local food-sampling festivals this summer.
While she acknowledged Airdrie has other culinary- and food-related community events like the weekly Airdrie Farmers’ Market or Food Truck Frenzy, Logan said Flavours of Airdrie was intended to stand apart as an opportunity for patrons to purchase bite-size samples from multiple restaurants and eateries rather than pay for a whole meal.
“When you go to this event, you buy a ticket for a dollar and then restaurants have toonie-sized samples of food that they price anywhere from $1 to $5,” she said. “As we’re a city with a lot of young, and sometimes big, families, for them to go out to a restaurant that they’ve never been to – it can be really expensive, especially if they don’t know if they’re going to like it.
“This [would be] a great opportunity for them to go and spend $20 or so and see what restaurants they like – maybe ones they’ve never heard of before.”
She said the event would have also been a way to promote Airdrie’s restaurants and provide financial support to businesses that were hit hard at the onset of the pandemic.
According to Logan, Flavours of Airdrie was cancelled before any vendors had signed on to participate. Even though there was little complication in withdrawing the event, she said it was frustrating and many restaurateurs were disappointed.
“There were some people who were definitely excited about it and some businesses that were excited about it as well,” she said. “They were looking forward to it hopefully being able to happen because it gets them more business and gets them seen in front of, hopefully, a really large crowd.”
Logan added she still intends to hold Flavours of Airdrie in 2021, depending on the status of COVID-19 a year from now.