The Incredible Edibles Festival was born in 2013 when a group of friends and community advocates gathered around a farmhouse table to brainstorm ideas about promoting local food producers and tourism in Trent Hills. Convinced that the region’s abundant agricultural offerings combined with the unique talents of local chefs and entrepreneurs could put the municipality on the map as an agri-food destination, the group left their initial meeting armed with a vision, a mission and a plan.
Their defined mission was and is “to provide a free admission festival in downtown Campbellford that offers the opportunity to sample and enjoy the food of local chefs and entrepreneurs, learn about the abundant agricultural offerings of the region, and be entertained by food-related speakers, demonstrations, and live music.” As well as strengthening Trent Hills through a celebration of food, the underlying purpose of the Festival is to “showcase our abundant farmers and food producers, commemorate our agricultural history, and promote sustainability for a healthy future,” reads their website.
The first Festival was an unqualified success. Held on the Saturday of the second weekend in July, Campbellford’s Front Street was closed to traffic and hosted 22 vendors along with workshops, live music and children’s activities. Vendors with unique offerings were sought. “We wanted to create a festival where visitors could sample delicious and unique foods, while learning from experts about things like preserving, cheesemaking and more,” the website explains. The organizers were beyond delighted when over 3,000 people attended the initial event.
The Incredible Edibles Festival is heading into its sixth year in 2019, and it has continued to grow, drawing thousands of residents and tourists alike to enjoy an engaging summer’s day filled with food, fun and festivity in Campbellford. “We are so excited for this year’s Festival,” says Sandy Chapman, Secretary and Treasurer. “We’ve expanded geographically for 2019 and we’ll now have two streets closed off. For the first time this year, we’ll have use of the Clock Tower Building for our first indoor Annual Artisan Vendor market, showcasing the works and wares of local creators. We’re very excited about this as the Clock Tower Building is located truly at the heart of the Festival.”
"The Clock Tower Building is air-conditioned so it’s always a pleasant place to pop into to cool off, if needed," she says. "And now our visitors will be able to see the creations for sale by these incredible artists." This new initiative, Sandy explains, was motivated in part by her recent visit to the Artisan’s Market in Warkworth during the Maple Syrup Festival held in the village. “I was blown away by the quality of the work,” she says.
Incredible Edibles has already become a major local event spanning two days with numerous ancillary add-ons including the Incredible Doctor’s Cook-Off on the Friday night prior, a unique fundraiser for the Campbellford Memorial Hospital in which local physicians are paired with chefs to create mouth-watering fare in a friendly competition atmosphere.
Since 2015, Incredible Edibles has also offered a full-day Farm Life Experience Tour on the day prior to the Festival. The guided bus tour escorts visitors to dairy, livestock and produce farm operations for hands-on experiences, provides a farm-fresh lunch and ends with the experience of a livestock auction at the Sales Barn in Hoard’s Station.
The 2018 Festival culminated in a street dance hosted by The Rotary Club in celebration of its 90th anniversary in Campbellford, another unqualified success as attendees danced under the stars to the rock and roll sounds of local favourite Freddy Vette and the Flames.
This year’s Festival will host over 40 vendors showcasing their unique products. Workshops and lectures are offered throughout the day in the agricultural tent as well as all-day cooking demonstrations on the main stage. Little ones can enjoy crafts and food prep activities in the children’s tent. To top it off, live music and entertainment are featured all day in the beer tent along with specialties from local craft breweries and cideries.
“We have a big team behind the Festival now,” says Sandy. As well as the accomplished five-member Board of Directors led by Chair Amanda Solmes, the facilitators now include 15 other volunteers who lend their expertise to various elements of planning and execution, from coordinating entertainment and cooking demos to social media and print media marketing.
Incredible Edibles has been generously sponsored by many stalwart corporate citizens as well as service organizations, united in the goal of drawing tourism to Campbellford. “Our hope was that the Festival would bring visitors to town, boost the economy and expand awareness about the unique and relevant things we’re doing,” says the Festival website. “An event like this was also bound to help other sectors as well, stores in town, accommodations, restaurants etc. Our hope was that it would be a win-win for everyone.”
The Festival is also supported by its own fundraising efforts, most recently its third annual Dinner and a Movie event at Campbellford’s Aron Theatre in February. Featuring a meal catered by local chef Adam Low and a screening of the academy award-winning musical Chicago, the full-house event proved to be an enjoyable evening with guests donning the garb of the roaring 20’s to celebrate the theme.
"We are so proud and excited by everyone’s acceptance and support of the little idea started by five moms," Sandy smiles. "From a little seed, something magnificent grew." Mark your calendars for July 13th and remember, "if you eat, you're in!"
Incredible Edibles Festival, website www.incredibleediblesfestival.com
Incredible Edibles on Facebook
Farm Life Experience Tour tickets are available online at www.incredibleediblesfestival.com
or in person at Campbellford shops Philosophy and The Dizzy Goose
Tickets are $45 for adults, $25 for children under 12 and $100 for a family of four