By Lory Diaz
Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte just hosted Canada’s first ever Big Feastival, and Torontonicity was invited to join in on the fun! The weekend of August 18-20, 2017 saw 10,000 families enjoy live music, weekend camping, and delicious eats!
The Big Feastival was started six years ago in the U.K. by Chef Jamie Oliver and Blur’s Alex James. Its focus is on food education that promotes organic, local, and healthier choices, which is a continuation of Chef Oliver’s food revolution. Some of Canada’s biggest chefs brought their families to participate in the experience, sharing their wealth of knowledge via hands-on cooking classes, demos, and kid-friendly activities.
Toyota had a carnival area on the grounds that allowed kids of all ages to play games, ride a ferris wheel, or test drive a new 2017 vehicle! This really was a festival for the whole family!
The lineup for The Big Feastival also stayed true to family entertainment. Bands like Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Weezer, De La Soul, The Strumbellas, Dragonette, Magic!, Choir! Choir! Choir! and many more performed for crowds. They were joined by Chef Chuck Hughes, Vikram Vij, Rob Gentile, Alexandra Feswick, Victor Barry, and Danny Smiles – just to name a few – took care of the kitchen!
Toronto’s own Chef Michael Hunter of Antler restaurant at 1454 Dundas West brought his lovely family to camp! He delivered a cooking lesson featuring one of Antler’s delicious menu items: flank steak, with polenta, and rapini.
Chef Victor Barry of Piano Piano taught a hands-on class on how to make classic pork meat balls, a staple of any Italian kitchen!
The One Hop Kitchen team was there to teach guests about protein benefits of crickets, and the future of sustainable cooking! Their mealworm bolognese is surprisingly delicious, and makes a great base for any meat-free pasta dish!
Vikram Vij from British Columbia made a chicken curry, and answered questions about Indian cooking. He started by clarifying that curry isn’t one set mix of spices, but actually a unique combination of various spices based on personal preferences. What a pleasure it was to listen to the human-focused approach of one of Canada’s top chefs!
MEC pitched a free equipment rental tent for campers that may have forgotten some essentials back home: sleeping bags, blankets, and stakes were some of the items available to rent. They also provided every camper with a free mug, and had hot coffee ready both Saturday and Sunday morning! Free travel sized bug spray and sunscreen was made available throughout the grounds to keep everyone safe too!
SwiftCharge was on-site allowing campers to recharge phones at their own convenience!
The camping area was open and allowed families to select as much space as they needed, making the area feel like an authentic camp ground.
So maybe cooking classes aren’t your thing, and you’re more of a cocktail, spirits, or wine fan? Jacob’s Creek, Batch, and Creemore Springs were just a few names holding their own educational sessions for guests as well!
Guests could also grab a delicious bite at one of the many food trucks and vendors on the grounds. My personal favourite was Heirloom Food Truck’s veggie banh mi: BBQ tofu, coleslaw, and roasted peanuts, with a delicious house-made mayonnaise. The tofu is flavourful, and pairs perfectly with the crunch from the slaw and peanuts. Delicious!
Gluten-free and vegan options were not hard to find here! Queen East’s Tori’s Bakery had baked goods to meet all dietary concerns. Their blueberry and chive-garlic scones were incredibly popular, and sold out way too quickly!
Between all the cooking classes, music, and mixology sessions, there were regular yoga classes. Guests were welcomed to sign-up early, and make sure to not miss their weekend meditation amongst all the fun and food frenzy. The same MEC activity tent offered rock wall climbing and slacklines for everyone to try out.
Clyde, one of half a dozen birds of prey, was on the Burl’s Creek grounds meeting families and teaching them about his eating and hunting habits!
The Big Feastival’s first year in Canada was kicked off with a major bang! Parents with toddlers to teenagers were out having an amazing time alongside their kids, learning as a family about how easy it is to make better food choices. Natural and organic was the expectation from vendors and presenters alike, so no chemical based soda or snacks were allowed on the grounds. Bloor West Village’s own Cheese Boutique played a major role in meeting cravings from guests with delicious and healthy options.
The overall spirit of the event is fun, positive, and educational, with many families loving all the activities the weekend had to offer. This is the festival for you if you’re tired of the smokers and drunk behaviour of strangers, but want to introduce camping and live music to your family. Organizers have already started planning for 2018 artists and presenters, so keep an eye out for The Big Feastival’s lineup information! Torontonicity can’t wait, and hopes to see you there!