Crystal Dennison

Crystal Dennison

Food for thought at Harvest Festival

NANAIMO – Local food movement gains traction as producers double the size of this year's Harvest Festival.

There will be more than a little something to sample at the third annual Harvest Festival.

Once again Wesley Street in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter will be blocked off and stacked chock full of fresh-from-the-farm produce, plus locally made preserves and crafts from at least 40 vendors, live entertainment and fresh food whipped up by local chefs.

“Our farmers market has doubled in size over last year, so that’s an exciting attraction,” said Kim Smythe, event organizer. “We’ll have about 20 booths of farmers and value-added vendors. By value-added, I mean things like honey and salsas and locally processed and canned goods.”

Live entertainment runs non-stop throughout the festival, which happens Saturday (Sept. 14) 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with five acts, including the Mount Benson Ceilidh Band, Tribute, Gerry Barnum, Coombs Old Time Fiddlers and more.

The fiddles, banjos and other acoustic instruments and musical styles lend an old time country ambience to the annual festival.

Food trucks will be driving onto the scene this year too, adding their own special flavours to the event.

“We have, at this point, three food trucks coming and there may be more to announce this week,” Smythe said. “That’s in addition to the five restaurants we have in the fresh food fair.”

For animal lovers of all ages, Tiger Lily Farms is bringing its corral of critters, featuring bunnies, lambs, goats and more. Farmer Vicky and Daisy the Cow will also be coming out to entertain the younger festival visitors.

More than a dozen displays will highlight farmers and vendors from the Nanaimo region and other local food sources, emerging regional food strategies, recycling programs, community gardens and information on local water resources.

“What’s really starting to gain traction is the whole local food movement is starting to catch up to Cowichan and Comox areas, so last year we had 28 or 29 booths in total – our count as of this point is 43,” Smythe said.

The festival is free, but organizers are asking visitors to bring non-perishable food item donations for Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank and cash donations for Nanaimo Foodshare.

Vendors, farmers and restaurateurs can inquire about booth availability by calling Smythe at 250-758-5555.