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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Small Plates and Big Flavour at the Grande Brunch of Uncorked 2018 in Canmore, Alberta

Nine in a Row


For a town of fourteen thousand people, Canmore has so many restaurant choices that even if we eat at a different one every day, for a month, we still won't be able to try them all.

That is why we love our annual appointment with Andrew Nickerson and his team at Canmore's Uncorked Food Festival. The festival makes it easier to discover and enjoy the best Canmore's dining scene offers - restaurants we didn't know existed and dishes we haven't tried before. When we say the best, we don't only mean the food. We also suggest the people committed to promoting this great destination for culinary's sake. We applaud their effort.




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It is our third year of involvement in the event. Spring is always a great time in the mountains. The Uncorked food festival seals the deal for a visit and an appointment with this lovely destination.

Canmore Uncorked is a multiple award-winning food festival that returns each May for eleven days of remarkable dining experiences. It is the opportunity for restaurants of the town to showcase what they have to offer and to entice diners to try something new. For patrons, it is a flavour gauntlet that stretches the imagination and the waistlines. It is a must-do!

One way we make the most of the experience is to attend the Grande Brunch. Nine restaurants come together in one location to offer delicious taster morsels. The newly opened Grande Kitchen and Bar hosted the event this year which took place the first Sunday of the festival.

We tried everything, which proved to be an overly ambitious task. The portions were just enough to entice us to do another visit at participating restaurants. Together, it made for an amazingly delicious and very fulfilling meal.

Observations


Food festivals are for patrons. Patrons come with friends to celebrate, eat, explore, experience, meet and have fun with plates of food, mugs of beer, and glasses of wine. It is a familiar promotional drawcard used by destinations to entice new customers to visit and discover more about local businesses partaking in the celebrations.

Vendors are given an opportunity to reach new customers, fill their restaurants and move their products. It is a great marketing opportunity - when done right. The organizers of food festivals have the delicate balancing act of assuring there is enough variety, volume and value for attendees to make it worthwhile attending, and for participating businesses and the destination to see a return in the short and longer term.

Here in lies the crux of a successful food festival. Participating businesses and the destination, as a whole, must go all-out or risk being relegated to just another irrelevant mee-too food event of which there are far too many already. Businesses should make the most of the chance and strive to out-do each another. Not just each other in town, but other festivals, elsewhere.

We all know that with the demise of Canmore's destination marketing organization the Canmore Uncorked festival was left on shaky ground. Cudos to Andrew and his team for seeing it through and keeping the festival going. Unfortunately, herein lies the problem. We are of the opinion that Canmore's establishments overall are still not getting that this is their opportunity. It should not be just an event that continues. It should be the pinnacle food event in the Rocky Mountains!

In 2018, a few die-hard businesses and some newcomers remain committed to the festival's success, and they are reaping some of the potential rewards. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Canmore's food scene remains missing in action, and as a result, the town risks losing the opportunity.

It is no longer the "great" festival it once was. A celebration is not, and should not be for immediate profit or gain. If it was, it would be called a market. A longer perspective and commitment should prevail. The festival is there for the purpose of building marketing and promotional momentum for the times of the year when there isn't a festival. Profit follows from this momentum, and the awareness, excitement and the discovery drawcard it lit in customers. Participating businesses should commit their resources to building momentum like they would have done through any other marketing or promotional effort.

Canmore should be lucky to still have Uncorked. We hope to see it grow again to the grand festival it was once before. Andrew has our commitment and our vote to make it work. Now, all we need is for more of Canmore's food establishments to realize that this is their opportunity and get behind it. We are hopeful that it will happen before it is too late.

Hendrik van Wyk
Uncorked Cowboy

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Photos


Yum, Yum!

Benedict

Andrew

Cupcakes

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