/Chew and chat for charity tempts tastebuds
Lorne McNeil has fun with the Town Crier at Wintergreen's Food and Beverage Showcase at last year's event. /Angelica Ingram Staff

Chew and chat for charity tempts tastebuds

By Sue Tiffin

Published June 8 2017

The Highlands Food and Beverage Showcase has it all – food entertainment silent auction even a pickling competition – all while promoting local culinary tourism and raising money for two important causes.

“It’s a pile of work” said Diane Dawson committee member “but it’s a really great day.”

More than 30 diverse mostly culinary-related vendors from the area are coming to the fourth annual Chew and Chat for Charity event on June 17.

Visitors to the event at Wintergreen Pancake Barn in Gelert pay one admission for entrance and are treated to samples from local farmers chefs bakers brewers – even baristas.

“Participation has increased this year for sure” said Dawson. “There’s coffee tea barbecue pizza wild edibles – it’s just an amazing array of stuff. You won’t go hungry.”

While guests are mingling and sampling to keep their mouths occupied entertainment including Fifth Business the Shout Sisters and the Highland Scottish Dancers will keep ears and eyes occupied throughout the afternoon. A food competition invites guests to “come pickled” and bring a sample of their own homemade pickled goods for a friendly tasting contest. Meanwhile a silent auction offers prizes in exchange for the charities supported by the day’s events.

In the past the event has raised about $4500 a year from the entrance fee and silent auction donations. This amount is split between two charities – one global and one local.

The charity supports HAVE (Help a Village Effort) as their global charity to help build wells and sanitation equipment in India.

“Here we are sitting in the middle of the greatest freshwater in the world we have to do something for those who don’t have that” said Dawson who is a HAVE director. “The basic necessities – freshwater water to wash hands have basic hygiene – there are schools without bathrooms – it affects everything when there’s no freshwater.”

Past local charity recipients have been the food bank hospital and Food for Kids initiative. This year the YWCA Women’s Centre of Haliburton County was chosen.

“We have a long list so it’s really hard to decide” said Dawson. “In the fall when we were doing our planning the YWCA was in crisis so it was a no-brainer.”

An additional benefit of the event is that it helps promote culinary tourism.

“There’s a need for showcasing what’s in this county which is amazing in one spot” said Dawson.  “People can take a sample from here and then later go visit that restaurant that they maybe didn’t know was there. We don’t have a tourism office in town anymore so when people come to ask where do we eat or what’s a good spot…we need to make food and beverage really accessible.”

The event has received advertising support from the county tourism department and funding from Foodland Ontario.

“The Food and Beverage Showcase is important to our region as it shows the breadth and depth of the county’s culinary offerings – but also integrates music and the arts” said county tourism director Amanda Virtanen. “It’s gaining traction and growing each year.”

Additional fundraising events for H.A.V.E. including a walk by ASES students and a walk co-ordinated by local churches will take place later in June.

Admission to the Highlands Food and Beverage Showcase is $50 for a family and $20 for people over 16. Wintergreen Pancake Barn is located at 3325 Gelert Road in Minden. Bring your own plate bug spray lawn chair and cutlery anytime from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about the Chat and Chew event visit highlandsfoodfest.com or call Diane Dawson at 705-286-3202. To learn more about HAVE visit helpavillageeffort.org.