Organizing Local Food Events in Alberta

 
 
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 Introduction | Why local food?| Define local for your event | Pick a purpose or two for your event | Create an asset list | Target an audience for your event | Find a format to present the local food | Source the local foods | Seek potential partners| Find financial support from sponsors and funders | Promote, communicate, and educate as you celebrate local food | Beyond food – make your event great | Common elements of success | Event logistics | Conclusion | Additional resource | Appendix one: an Alberta food inventory

Introduction

This document has been created by the Explore Local Initiative to help you plan a local food event. You will find reasons to choose local and it explains a variety of formats for presenting local foods to guests. It also discusses the challenges of sourcing the best ingredients and shares tips learned from past events.
Albertans organize community events across the province and food is usually one of the aspects. Specifically, a local food event features foods grown and prepared close to the event location, and extra effort is often required to source local ingredients. You could simply choose a caterer for a meeting who specializes in local or it can be as complex as a multiple day festival of food where chefs, farmers and others gather to present a variety of dishes to a large crowd.

Why Local Food?

Less than 18 per cent of Albertans live in rural areas and most aren’t in direct contact with agriculture. A food event connects urban populations back to the land, as well as helps to remind guests where some of their food comes from and understand the value of agriculture and farming.

Farmers and food processors benefit when buyers take an interest in their efforts and an event is a chance for growers to tell their story and teach consumers about the foods they are eating. This promotion of local should result in more buyers and a growth in sales. Ultimately, the overall local food system has potential to grow.

Local food is worth the extra effort. Food consumed close to where it was grown and processed is as fresh as possible and engages all the senses. Producers often possess knowledge of how to prepare what they grow in unique ways. When quality, locally grown foods are intertwined with Alberta’s culture and history it creates a unique experience for visitors and citizens alike.

Define Local for Your Event

As you plan your event, write a definition of local for yourself. Generally local means ‘food less travelled.’ It could be defined as foods grown and/or prepared within a 100 kilometre radius of your event. You also may choose to showcase foods from your county, river valley, region, or province.

You may want to define a percentage of your meal to be local. The smaller the geography and higher the percentage of local ingredients you want to use, the bigger your challenge. A 100 per cent local menu anywhere in Canada will exclude black coffee and tea from your event; a compromise would be to serve locally roasted coffee.

Pick a Purpose or Two for Your Event

It’s helpful to define a purpose for your event. Your purpose will guide your choice of menu, format, theme and partners. The following is a list of purposes or goals from actual local food events.

  • grow local economies
  • increase the sustainability of the local food system
  • serve food people enjoy
  • stay within budget and realize a profit
  • fundraise for a local food organization or charity of choice
  • showcase locally grown food and drink
  • create new relationships between farms, food processors and restaurants
  • provide the opportunity for local farmers/producers to increase their income by increasing local customer base
  • build regional identity based on local ingredients, food preparations and cultural traditions
  • sell a complementary variety of farm fresh products and foods in a co-operative manner
  • offer visitors a way to tour, taste, and shop locally
  • promote fresh foods, vibrant communities, and natural areas all year long
Develop a purpose to match the unique needs of your event or adapt statements from above to match what you hope to achieve at your event.

Create an Asset List

Enthusiasm in the planning will grow when you take time to brainstorm and write down your area’s assets. An asset list is an inventory of what already exists in your own backyard. The products, resources, services, sites and events can be placed onto a map of your region to create an asset map. This is useful if you are planning a food trail.

Here is a list of considerations to help you get started:
  • food products
  • crops – grains, oilseeds, meats, vegetables, fruits
  • beverages – tea, wine, mead or beer
  • signature dish – is your area known for its barbeque sauce, butter tarts or flapper pie?
  • interesting people
  • celebrity chefs
  • food artisans – cheese makers
  • heritage/cultures – what cultures first settled your area?
  • interesting locations
  • farms/ranches
  • one-of-a-kind restaurants
  • inns
  • greenhouses
  • historic sites
  • existing events
  • festivals
  • fairs
Brainstorming the assets before you start planning can prevent conflicts with pre-existing events. With this picture of what’s interesting, build on your local assets. Look for ways your event can complement what your area has to offer. Your committee will be energized as each person adds something to the list.

An asset list will expand the possibilities for your event. New locations, foods, and people to involve may be revealed. Events, menus, and maps can all be made from this list. Your asset list is key to finding local food experiences within your region.

Target an Audience for Your Event

Target a specific audience; don’t just hope everyone and anyone will come. Families, seniors, foodies, middle-aged women, tourists, city dwellers and local citizens are a few possible audiences. Your chosen target group should influence many decisions about your event. These include ticket price, location, timing, event activities, and more. If you want to attract people from nearby cities or towns, consider how long it will take for them to drive your event. If you hope to attract families, keep your event affordable and fun.

Find a Format to Present the Local Food

There are many different ways to showcase local food. Before you undertake any local food event make sure you have all the appropriate permits and permissions. Check with Alberta Health Services, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and your municipality for their requirements. Be aware that not all food sold at farmers’ markets may be permitted for use at a local food event.

A Driving Tour
A driving tour with grazing samples, a formal sit-down meal in a community hall or getting down and dirty digging potatoes are simply appetizers to this section. It gives an overview of many ways to present food.

Food Maps or Trails
A map or a trail is an extension of the asset list. Once you have your list, choose locations that meet your criteria or theme. Publish these locations on a map or website. The map entices guests to seek out several stops on a self-guided driving or cycling tour. Trails can be open for visitors to discover seasonally or year round. Often food trails have three or four special event weekends during the year to further encourage people. One example is the Butter Tart Trail in Ontario. http://www.wellington-north.com/whats-on/butter-tart-trail.aspx

Localize a Pre-existing Event
Replace an imported food with local food. An agricultural society, or other sponsor, could buy local 4-H beef to be made into hamburgers, roasts and steaks. This meat is then served at the summer fair and/or fall community suppers. Be sure to promote that it’s local meat in advance and at the event. The same can be done with bison, pork and other meats. Remember, all meat sold in Alberta must be inspected.

Cooking Demonstrations
People enjoy learning new ways to cook food. It is also fun to taste a dish as it is being created. Education around how to prepare meals using local ingredients increases awareness. A cooking demo can be lead by a chef or a farmer and it can be done on its own or as part of a tour, festival or fair.

If the demo is geared towards adults you may want to serve wine and/or beer. If the demo is designed for kids and families gear the colours and shapes of the foods, plus the length of the activity to hold their attention. Cooking demos can work for large crowds and can be as short as 15 minutes in length. Have take home information including recipes.

Cooking Class
A cooking class requires more time, space and a better facility. In this format, guests get hands on with the preparation of the food. This is a great use for existing commercial kitchens in your community – the local hall or school. Class size can range from 6 to 24 people.

Food preservation is enjoying a comeback. Canning and pickling fresh, local ingredients is a great way to enjoy them year round. Along with renewed interest there is a need for instruction on the correct techniques. In Drayton Valley, Brazeau County, classes have been offered on traditional canning, as well as international cuisines.

Foraging/Food classes
Taking the experience to the next level, guests help gather and harvest the foods. Someone with expert knowledge of wild foods leads a group into the forest or field to find their dinner. Edible flowers and berry picking are two examples. This can also be done with domesticated crops like asparagus, potatoes, carrots or peas, as well as fruit. These classes work best with smaller groups. Learn Great Food is a company from the mid-west that specializes in creating foraging and cooking classes for their guests. Their itineraries last from a few hours to a few days. http://www.learngreatfoods.com/

Community Suppers
These events take place indoors at a community hall and food is served buffet style. The Maritimes have lobster suppers in church basements, while the Alberta version often features turkey or chicken. These are great opportunities to serve and promote local foods. Advance promotion and education about local is great for both marketing and support. Here is an example from just outside of Edmonton. http://www.josephburg-ag.ca/jas_jChickenSupper.html

Long Lunches
This is an outdoor event that features tables put together to form one long table down the main street of town. The street is closed to traffic during this time and local businesses participate in the festive atmosphere. The meal is served buffet style and the menu often features roast meat, corn (or another local vegetable), buns and desserts. The town of Warkworth, Ontario, population 800, has had a long lunch in August for the last eight years. http://www.warkworth.ca/annual-events/longlunch

Farm Dinners
This event takes place at a farm. Guests are e-mailed the location and directions five days prior. Meal locations vary depending on the farm and the season. Tables are set-up outdoors in the corn patch, beside a sunflower field or among the vines of the vineyard. With Alberta’s unpredictable weather an empty greenhouse, very tidy garage or clean but rustic granary or barn could provide shelter but still give the outdoor feel.

Food is served ‘family’ style with serving dishes passed amongst the guests who are seated at tables of eight. The growers act as hosts, giving a tour and sharing the story of the foods being served. The caterer or tour provider takes care of the logistics and preparation of the meal. Plate & Pitchfork is a company from Oregon that arranges such events. http://www.plateandpitchfork.com/faq.aspx

An Alberta example of this format took place September 2010 in a tent in Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park. Called the Silver & Sage, it was a formal five course meal for 40 people served in a tent without electricity and with portable water. As much as possible, food was prepared in the chef’s kitchen in Calgary, the Trochu Community Centre was enlisted for additional food preparation, and the final touches were completed in the kitchen tent at the site.

Edible Tours
A bus tour takes guests to more than one location for a day filled with discovery about food. This format eliminates the need for parking at farms and only enough space for a bus to turn around is needed. Food samples or tastes offered at each stop or a tour stop could feature a restaurant with a local item on their menu. The picnic lunches of Vancouver’s Farm Folk, City Folk Incredible Edible tours is one example. http://www.ffcf.bc.ca/programs/past_projects.html

Taste Events and Wandering Picnics
These might be either indoor or outdoor events. The venue could be a large park, a farm, community hall, or conference centre. Chefs are paired with farms to create and present new dishes using local ingredients. The ticket price includes a number of coupons which guests can exchange for sample size dishes and drinks.

Feast of Fields is an outdoor version of this format. Guests are given a cloth napkin, a plate and a wine glass and are encouraged to wander to different stations through out the site tasting small servings of food and drink. Several feasts take place across Canada usually in late summer or early fall to coincide with the peak of the season for fresh fruits and vegetables. Locations include Calgary and British Columbia. http://slowfoodcalgary.ca/events/ http://www.feastoffields.com

Crop Specific Food Festival
Corn, garlic, tomatoes, saskatoons and pumpkins have entire themed events in their honour. If your area is known for a specific food or crop this could be a good option. The theme could be carried throughout a whole day or weekend with demonstrations on how the food is grown and harvested, taste tests, meals featuring the food as an ingredient, and more. The Gilroy Garlic Festival is an example from California. http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com/

Source the Local Foods

A local food event requires access to local foods. While local foods are now more available, be prepared to look beyond the grocery store. We are accustomed to accessing foods from all over the world and year round. Many foods are not available fresh year round; therefore, searching for local food can feel limiting at first, but Alberta does have four seasons.

Start by considering the landscapes and farms of your area. Review the crops and foods that are available (see appendix one for a full list for Alberta). Don’t forget to explore Alberta made beverages; there are more local beers, wines and meads available all the time. Here is a list to help you source local:
  • Alberta Regional Cuisine Sourcing Directory – This is a database of Alberta farmers and food producers who are willing and able to supply local foods. http://www.agric.gov.ab.ca/app68/dinealberta
  • Farmers’ Markets – There are more than 100 Alberta approved farmers’ markets and close to 3,000 vendors across the province. The Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website, www.sunnygirl.ca, lists all the approved farmers’ markets in Alberta. Many of the markets listed have provided their websites where often the vendors are noted separately. The Alberta Farmers’ Market Association website, http://www.albertamarkets.com/, does have a vendor tab which lists vendor members by product category.
  • Alberta Slow Food Chapters – Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization that links the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment.http://www.slowfoodedmonton.ca/ http://slowfoodcalgary.ca/directory/
  • Growing Food Security in Alberta (GFSA) – This group works to ensure secure access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate food for everyone. http://www.foodsecurityalberta.ca/
Locally sourced food can cost more in both the price per item and the time required to source it. For example, in 2010 Chef Chris Murphy estimated 60 to 65 man-hours were spent sourcing the ingredients for a five-course local meal for 40 people, and four additional days were spent actually preparing the meal. Plan and budget your time and dollars accordingly. Volunteers find this work interesting and energizing as they learn about their neighbourhoods and build negotiation skills.

Give yourself lots of lead-time. When you think ahead, fruits and vegetables can be preserved or processed at the peak of the season to be served at a later date. To save money, use well prepared less expensive cuts of meat rather than premium ones. As you build your menu, think of options that require less preparation time such as roasted versus mashed potatoes. There can be a role for a person, called a “forager” (see www.wisconsinlocalfood.com – Party Planner’s Guide for a full description), on your event planning team.

Some reasons it may take longer to source local:
  • the farmers’ market is usually open only one or two days a week
  • the person who tends the crops or herd often does the marketing and deliveries
  • farms and processors may require the food be picked up directly from their farm
  • quantities required for your event might be much larger than the producer is used to delivering at any one time
Another aspect of local sourcing is ensuring the food is safe. The following is a list of minimum requirements to look for when purchasing ingredients:
  • Meat must be slaughtered and processed in an approved facility. All meat sold in Alberta must be inspected. Uninspected meat cuts from an approved facility will have the word(s) “uninspected” or “uninspected not for sale” stamped on the wrapping and cannot be used as an ingredient at a public event.
  • Milk must be pasteurized. It is unlawful to sell or give away unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk can also not be used as an ingredient except in certain types of cheese.
  • Cheese does not have to be pasteurized as long as it has been manufactured in compliance with the Food and Drugs Act.
  • Fish processors must comply with the Food Regulation. They must obtain and display a food permit.
  • Honey sold by the producer directly to the consumer at a honey house or residence or at an Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market does not have to be graded. It must be fit for human consumption and free of foreign material.
  • Farmers can sell their unprocessed horticulture products directly from their farms. There are no requirements for grading of those vegetables.
Look for farms with an On Farm Food Safety Program (a complete list of programs is given in the resources section at the end of this document). Ask your potential suppliers questions about their food inspection and grading.

Seek Potential Partners

Planning your event with others is helpful; many hands make light work. Fast track your first time event by partnering with a pre-existing event to benefit from their experience and expertise. Here are some suggestions of where to look for partners.

Community Groups
Agricultural societies – there are nearly 300 active agricultural societies in Alberta and they help organize more than 1,000 fairs and events across the province each year. These groups have event planning experience, facilities with commercial kitchens that are often under-utilized, sometimes dollars to spare, and a mandate to ‘host’ agriculture events.

4-H – “for my community” is part of the 4-H pledge. Seek members to help in your events and help clubs find easy ways to support local. 4-H members may be willing to work at your event in exchange for project support or a chance to share their stories.

Small Businesses
There are both immediate business and future profitability reasons for businesses of all types to be involved. Ask how they can help your event and ask what they need from you. The following business people might be win-win partners for your event: caterers, chefs, restaurants, meeting/event planners or printers/copy shops.

Media
The media are useful in promoting your event and all media need and want a good news story. Your challenge is to get their help in advance for promotion. There are many ways to involve them and make a story of the planning process:
  • Invite them to a 15 minute planning session where there will be food to taste and photograph.
  • Deliver snacks to the radio stations with a description of your event including a contact name and phone number, as well as the event date.
  • Invite media to be part of a judging panel at a taste test or chili cook-off.
  • Have a radio announcer be the master of ceremonies at your event.
Find Financial Support from Sponsors and Funders

A successful event can be costly to produce; consider sharing the financial burden with sponsors. Sponsorship is a marketing arrangement that allows the sponsor to achieve their goals while helping you. Usually the sponsor hopes to increase sales and/or positively build their image in the community. Look across the entire local food system to find partners, collaborators and sponsors. For example, independent grocers and health food stores have provided cash sponsorships to food events. Seek sponsorship from local government, service clubs, associations or food/farm related suppliers and businesses.

There are organizations willing to fund events and new ideas to promote local foods. Consider the following four funding possibilities for your event:
  • Agricultural societies and other registered societies are eligible to apply for Ag Initiative Fund and other grants. Community Futures help develop and implement community-based economic development and diversification strategies.
  • Tourism Destination Regions (TDRs). Alberta has six tourism destination regions. They provide marketing funding to boost tourism within their region. If your event is meant to attract tourists and showcase your region you may be eligible for co-operative marketing dollars.
  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency has the Industry and Market Development Program, which is available to help Alberta’s livestock and meat industry create a better future.
This list is just to get you started. There are other funds that might fit the goals of your event. Ask your partners for ideas.

Promote, Communicate, and Educate as You Celebrate Local Food

Share the menu or excerpts of the menu ahead of time; an enticing menu can sell an event. Include a sample of the menu in your promotion of the event.

Having attracted people to your event, you now have a great opportunity to educate them about local food. Ensure you have a positive and interesting story to tell. Use your menu to feature farm, grower, and food artisan names, stories and/or photos. Another way to help make the connection for your guests is through keepsake menus with farm logos and contact information.

Use photos of farms, food and the surrounding landscape to visually stimulate your guests. This can be presented in the form of posters, postcards, tabletop tents, programs, displays, bookmarks, or a slide show projected on a large screen.

A master of ceremony with a microphone will help your event flow. This person does not need to talk the entire time, but can buy time if needed. They could:
  • thank guests for attending
  • share local food stories/issues
  • thank volunteers and hands that prepared the meal/food
  • announce raffle prize winners
  • guide guests through logistical challenges if needed
Beyond Food – Make Your Event Great

Use a Theme to Unify
Once you have a purpose, a theme helps focus your project. Pioneer/old fashioned fun, harvest, everything pumpkin, French or Ukrainian heritage - each succinctly target energy and interest. Once you pick a theme stick with it and resist the temptation to include everything. “Let’s leave something for next year,” is a good phrase to use and keep a file of ideas. Joan Tobin says it best in her document Event Planning: Marketing Local Food:
    A consistent presentation of your event’s theme is the key to success. Your theme should connect to the food served, the décor, the music and the atmosphere. For example, an Autumn Harvest celebration could showcase locally grown pumpkins, and apples in traditional pies and butters. Remembering your purpose is to sell local food, locally grown potatoes, squash, and onions should all be displayed as key ingredients in traditional autumn harvest dinners. Having the recipes on hand for customers will encourage them to buy the ingredients and make the dishes at home. Visually appeal to your customers with traditional harvest themed décor with cornstalks, pumpkins, and gourds. High spirited music will round out the event and provide a fun and lively atmosphere.

    While this example may seem straightforward, I have been to several events where the presentation was inconsistent and the theme was lost. For example, a country fair should not offer music by the local church choir. While the choir may be excellent and the lead singer may be your wife, the tone set by the music is inconsistent with the theme. Your message will be lost in the contradictory presentation and customers may lose interest.
Shopping Adds Entertainment Value and Profit
A favourite activity, after eating, is shopping. Have something for sale at your event for guest to browse and buy. Be sure it matches with your theme and goals. Local foods including sauces and jams featured on the menu make sense as long as they are properly made, packaged and labeled. Local arts and crafts, souvenir shopping bags, magnets, and/or postcards can also work.

Maximize Manpower – Use Volunteers
A well-run food event requires lots of manpower. You will need help in the kitchen, as well as servers, greeters, and ticket sellers. Look to your partner organizations, friends and family as a source of volunteers. You may want to specifically target a partner organization as a source of volunteers.

At your event, make your manpower visible to your guests by using name tags, t-shirts, or costumes that match your theme. Make the event enjoyable for everyone by being organized and well staffed. If your event is large and complex, orient volunteers ahead of time. Reward your volunteers by having a special after party for them. Use their experiences at the event to help improve the next one.

Comply with Food and Safety Regulations
For your guests to have a positive experience at your local food event, the environment and the food needs to be safe. There are several steps to be taken to ensure this is the case. Additional insurance may be required, as well as liquor licenses and temporary food establishment permits.

Most local food events will fall under either part 4 – Special Events and Temporary Food Establishments or part 5 - Community Organization Function of the Alberta Public Health Act, Food Regulation. Both part 4 and 5 require the event organizer to notify Alberta Health Services that an event with food is going to take place. Make contact with a local Alberta Health Services Public Health Inspector early in your project. Inspectors enforce the Alberta Public Health Act and can help you interpret the regulations for your event. Develop a good relationship with your public health inspector to ensure the success of your event.

If there is more than one local food event in your future consider taking a two-day Food Safe course offered by Alberta Health Services. To expand your understanding of the food safety regulations refer to sections 6 and 7 of to the online Marketing Food Safely Manual (http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/explore13314).

One possible way to reduce risk is outsourcing the food handling to professionals, either a chef or catering company. Depending on your event and location, a caterer may not be able to do it because of regulations. It is recommended you talk to your health inspector before considering this option.

Insurance and other licenses are also important to acquire as needed and ahead of your event. The collective/organizing body usually holds the event insurance, as well as any special event and liquor license required. As with everything else, allow extra lead time to get all the paperwork in place; 12 weeks ahead of your event is not too soon to start.

Event Evaluation

After the event is over and while it is still fresh in your mind take time to evaluate the experience. One way to know if your event was a success is to go back to your original goal/purpose. Did you achieve what you set out to do? It is obvious to review the number of tickets sold. You could review comment cards or visitor surveys to gain some insight. You could also survey the farms and food producers involved to see if they gained profile or sales from the event. If you have an organizing team you could simply ask yourselves what do we need more of? Less of? What do we need to continue to do? If you do a working group evaluation celebration, collect the stories and get them to the media with a photo of the fun you had. If they run an article, you’ll find even more volunteers, partners, and sponsors for next year.

Common Elements of Success

This section features tips gleaned from interviews with food event organizers.

Admissions and Ticket Sales
  • Taste trails and other driving routes are usually free.
  • Food event tickets range in price from $25 to $90 although some exclusive events have charged as much as $200 for an afternoon or evening event. Sell and distribute tickets through partner organizations or local businesses.
  • Food tours cost the most at $85 to $95 and include transportation, meals, interpretation/guided experiences on location, and may also include a cooking class.
  • Pre-selling tickets lets you know how many to expect and simplifies entrance to the event.
Event Logistics
  • Pair food events with another specific interest area such as photography instruction, local history/exploration of historic locations, agriculture fairs or events, instruction on how and where to shop for food, or instruction on how to prepare and cook new foods.
  • Provide frequently asked questions (FAQ) in your program or on your website ahead of time. This is an opportunity to give visitors an idea of what to expect about the format and rules for your event.
  • Use a host to welcome guests and help them find everything from parking to coat racks and places to sit. Give hosts interesting facts to spice up their welcome messages.
  • Work to reduce line-ups. Keep the crowds moving by having enough food, drink and information stations. It might help to have the event entrance and registration separate from the area to buy additional tickets, and drink ticket sales separate from the bar.
  • Raise revenue with alcohol sales. It is best for the event organizer to be responsible for the liquor license and sales. The bar is usually a moneymaker for your organization. There are lots of interesting local drinks to offer to your guests.
  • Reduce portion sizes at tasting events so guests can ‘taste’ many/most stations without losing their appetite for more.
  • Supply entertainment, ideas include:
    • live music, including locals with a CD to sell
    • farm reports from farmers
    • guess the original purpose of the antique object, led by an expert
    • storytelling
    • cowboy poetry
    • have a First Nations group offer a blessing
    • cooking demos
  • Use signs to help your guests find their way to the event location (way finding) especially if you are expecting out of town guests. Clearly indicate where to park.
  • Site signs need to show the washroom locations.
  • Show where tickets are being sold or where visitors can get more information about the event.
  • Assign someone the task of picking up signs after the event for use next year.
Trail Logistics
  • Most trails start within an hour’s drive of a major urban centre.
  • Number of stops/operations on self-guided tours and trails is variable from as few as four to almost 50.
  • Consider different modes of transportation: bicycles, motorbikes, buses and motor homes. Within 50 to 70 kilometers bikes can work; they are more environmentally friendly, create fewer parking headaches and provide a unique experience for visitors.
  • Give direction and guidance to visitors so they can find their way from all directions and manage their expectations.
  • Communicate with them about kids, pets and other concerns. Include a FAQ section or checklist of reminders on your website and brochure.
  • Feature a searchable directory or database and some form of map on the website.
  • Post a printable pdf version of trail maps online. Most websites also include downloadable versions of other marketing materials such as flyers, brochures, magazines and recipes.
Media Relations
  • Press releases are energy rich and are free. Make a standard template with the words ‘press release’ on it. Add contact information and the ‘facts’ about your event. Omit costs of registration.
  • The radio works well for event promotion, especially close to the time of the actual event.
  • Foster a personal relationship with the media by buying advertising, offering complimentary tickets to events and having the same person contact the media each time so they establish a personal relationship.
  • The best press response is generated when the media actually experience the event, tour or trail. A pre-event media tour or taste works wonders.
  • Track some statistics about your event (revenue, amount of media/coverage, number of people who attended). Tell the good ones to the media soon after your event.
Partnerships and Sponsorships
  • Partner to fundraise for a not-for-profit organization at your food event; you can charge slightly more and it positions you to enhance your ticket sales. Incorporate a cause into the story and promotion of the event. Use wording like “proceeds to go to…for…” and “proceeds to help support...”
  • Include a silent auction to increase the event’s revenues and give guests something to look at while wandering and tasting; local artisans and accommodations/restaurants are good partners.
  • Use tracked numbers from prior events to build a case for why sponsors should invest in making your event even more successful and, most importantly, what is in it for them (positive public relations, media coverage, and exposure to your event’s guests).
Conclusion

With creativity and energy great food events are possible. There is growing enthusiasm for all things local. You now have a good idea of the resources required to source local food and the variety of formats available for your event. There are many excellent guides and resources on planning events. Use them, as well as this document for insight into what it takes to organize an excellent local food event. Remember, it is your responsibility to research and comply with all federal, provincial and municipal regulations related to food and its handling.

Additional Resource

Planning Food Safety Other Fact Sheets On-Farm Food Safety Programs in Alberta
Recognized Programs
  • Beef Cattle - Verified Beef Production
  • Chicken - Safe, Safer, Safest
  • Dairy - Canadian Quality Milk Program
  • Eggs – Start Clean, Stay Clean Program
  • Pullets - Clean Start
  • Grains, Oilseeds, Pulses – On-Farm Food Safety Program
  • Herbs and Spices - Good Agriculture and Collection Practices
  • Hogs – Canadian Quality Assurance Program
Horticulture - CanadaGAP Programs for:
  • Combined Vegetables
  • Greenhouse Production
  • Leafy Vegetable and Cruciferae
  • Potatoes
  • Small Fruit
  • Tree and Vine Fruit
Sheep – Food-Safe Farm Practices
Turkey – TFC On-Farm Food Safety Program

Appendix One: an Alberta Food Inventory


Grains

Wheat, rye, barley, oats

Oilseeds

Flax, canola, sunflower, mustards

Pulses

Lentils, chickpeas, green peas, yellow peas, beans

Greenhouse Vegetables

Cucumber, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, lettuces, micro greens, sprouts

Field-Vegetables

Asparagus to zucchini edible flowers and culinary herbs

Fruit

Apples, black currants, blueberries, buffalo berries, tart or sour cherries, chokecherries, crab apples, atrawberries, gooseberries, high bush cranberries, honeyberries, melons, pears, raspberries, plums, rhubarb, red currants, saskatoons, wild cranberries, grapes

Eggs

Chicken, duck, quail

Dairy

Milk, cream, butter, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, cheese

Meats

Beef, bison, chicken, duck, elk, lamb, pork, turkey, wild boar, wild turkey, rabbit, ostrich, alpaca meat, elk, rabbit, goat, deer

Fish

Tilapia whitefish, lake trout, pike, walleye, whitefish caviar

Processed Foods

Pastas, flour, cereal, sauces, dressings, jams, jellies, pickles, spices, seasonings, condiments, baked goods, confections, oils

Other

Honey, sugar beets, mushrooms

Drinks

Beer, fruit wine, mead, coffee – locally roasted, barley tea, rosehip tea
 
 
 
 
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This information published to the web on April 30, 2012.