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Les Filles d’Isabelle à Sturgeon Falls : 75 ans d’Unité, Amitié, Charité
by Isabel Mosseler
Photos by Nancy Bilodeau
Since its inception in 2014, the annual West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce Feast on the Farm has evolved into a seminal northeastern Ontario event, and definitely a flagship event for the Chamber. The day brings it all together – agriculture, restaurateurs, regional vintners and breweries, tourism, retail, entertainment – all in one spectacular setting in the fields at Leisure Farms. The 2019 Feast on the Farm, held Sunday August 11, once again proved that a great idea can keep getting better and better, as more people come on board and fresh ideas are generated each year. It takes a lot of work by some dedicated people, both volunteers and staff at the Chamber and Leisure Farms, who scored another sell-out year with 500 tickets sold. Chamber President Joanne Vallière was happy to report, “Everything was positive. We are content. The turnout was great, the flow, the food was amazing, the support, the variety. There’s not much to tweak for next year!”
The sunny day saw guests mingle shoulder-to-shoulder under a big tent to sample cheese, craft beer and fruit wines while waiting for the wagons to bring them out to the many food stations in the fields. Chefs from several area restaurants prepared creative dishes from fresh local ingredients, making for varied offerings such as tacos, pasta, fresh corn on the cob, sausage on a bun, pulled pork sliders, smoked salmon and even fresh gelato for dessert, among other tasty treats.
Sema Chaudhry, Chamber Project Manager, who was new to the event, reported she loved working on the project. “This year we tried to bring a bit more diverse food, ethnically, with the Green Machine and Mr. Pancho… We thought it would be good to add a few new things to the variety and at the same time a couple of more chefs from last year.” There were eight food stations with contributing chefs: Twiggs, Farina’s, Mr. Pancho, RIV Chip Stand, Jillie Bean, The Green Machine, Pasta Hostess and Leisure Farms. There were also four tasting stations, including honey straight from the honeycomb from Creekbend Farm, bites from the International Plowing Match 2019, hops lemonade from Veuve River Hops, and various cheeses from Thornloe Cheese and Le Fromage. Beverages were provided by Highlander Brewery, Magnotta Winery and Thomson Farms Cider and Winery.
The original concept of Feast on the Farm was to put a heavy emphasis on local product, local food, local farmers, local restaurants, local breweries and wineries and local talent, with singers and musicians playing unplugged at various food stations, and Shawn Blais playing in the main tent. The event has been good for local food producers in North Bay and West Nipissing and heightened awareness of area agriculture, Vallière noted. It has even led to ongoing partnerships, with restaurants sourcing more products from local farms. “That’s definitely still a big part of our decision making when we organized this, (…) to support them and get the word out there… I think the impact is getting stronger every year and the radius of our impact is growing… We had a lot of people from the south and the north emailing us as early as March and April that we please call them when we got tickets… It is growing and the demand is there. I see a lot of potential for the coming years,” Vallière said.
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