Biggest crowd ever at Incredible Edibles Festival. Last year 40 per cent of the approximately 6,000 people who attended had travelled more than 40 kilometres to be here.
…”Our culture here is really being built around food and we just want to celebrate how special that is.” Amanda Solmes
Article/images by John Campbell
Campbellford – Tues., July 11, 2023 – You can add indelible to what the Incredible Edibles Festival is all about: creating lasting memories for all those who delight in experiencing “foodie fun.”
More were created Saturday when roughly 5,000 people turned out for the eighth annual festival held in downtown Campbellford.
“It’s one of the biggest events that take place in Campbellford and it wouldn’t be such a success if people like you didn’t show up,” Amanda Solmes, managing director of the non-profit organization that runs the festival, told those present for the opening ceremony. “We’re all here to enjoy the delicious treats on the street but what this really is about is community … Our culture here is really being built around food and we just want to celebrate how special that is.”
Forty-four food vendors and 16 artisan vendors set up on Front Street South and Saskatoon Avenue, and close to 20 local and regional groups were represented in the Flourishing Community Zone promoting a message of sustainability.
There was also a children’s activity area, and live entertainment outside the beer tent.
The festival’s reach expanded this year with the debut of IncrEdible Warkworth a day earlier. The mini-festival, organized by the Warkworth Service Club as a fundraiser for the village’s health centre, took place on Main Street which was closed for a night of music, dancing and food prepared by local chefs.
Also taking place the same night in Campbellford was the seventh annual Incredible Doctors’ Cook Off, which raised more than $150,000 for Campbellford Memorial Hospital.
Trent Hills Mayor Bob Crate joined MPP David Piccini in congratulating the organizers for their hard work in putting together a festival that draws so many from outside the area.
“We have to build houses faster because everybody wants to come here” to live, after visiting Trent Hills, he quipped.
Piccini announced the festival had received a $29,800 Resilient Communities Fund from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. A news release from his office said the grant will help the organization “continue to build a sustainable and strong foundation for more festivals and community events to come.”
Specifically, it will use the money to strengthen its internal operations by hiring an accountant, updating its website and creating a new volunteer recruitment strategy in addition to developing volunteer manuals. The work is to be completed this fall.
“That’s huge for us, that’s the biggest grant we’ve ever gotten,” Solmes said in an interview.
The extra money is needed because the organization is “getting a lot more complex” as it takes on more responsibility, overseeing programs that include community gardens and now cooking and gardening classes for Grade 8 students as part of their nutrition curriculum.
The festival received a $21,000 Trillium grant last year which allowed it “to hire a strategist to help us figure out our financial model,” she said.
It costs just under $20,000 to stage the festival, another $12,000 for the school nutrition program, and roughly $5,000 for the community gardens, but that’s expected to increase.
Grants, donations, a major fundraiser in the spring, vendor fees, and sponsors generate the revenue the group needs to operate, and the payoff is an event that “everybody seems to love … it’s such a fun day. There’s so much to do,” Solmes said.
The festival did a survey last year and determined that about 40 per cent of the approximately 6,000 people who attended had travelled more than 40 kilometres to be there.
“They’re coming from the GTA, Kingston … people are hearing about us and showing up,” she said. “We’re really connected to the community and that’s what it’s all about … Food is something that really brings people together.”
Forty people donate their time to make the event happen, and “it means a great deal to the community” to have volunteers willing to put in those hours, Crate said in an interview.