‘Tis the season where giant vegetables are being harvested from gardens and potentially prize-winning jams are being churned out for display in the hopes of gaining a ribbon. This was the case at Dawson City’s horticultural exhibition as part of Discovery Days last week, but you won’t find large or entertaining vegetables adorning the tables at Mount Lorne’s Ingestible Festival, coming up on Sunday, August 28th. Instead, this festival is a medley of food and art that celebrates what people do with their locally-grown and harvested produce, with added points for presentation.
If you have ever come across lead organiser Shiela Alexandrovich, then this will come as no surprise: she is well known for her long-standing engagement with the organic food sector as a producer, educator and advocate, in addition to her fine beadwork, funky fibre-art and whimsical willow.
“It’s about encouraging people to share what they grow,” Alexandrovich says, “and to give us a chance to celebrate each other.”
Having been one of the servers at the last two festivals I can attest to the enthusiasm within the community. The place positively hummed as each of us behind a table sliced, scooped or poured samples while maintaining a constant narration describing the processes leading to each entry.
Entries will be placed into the categories of Breads, Cheeses, Ferments or Wild-crafted and for anything else there is the catch-all called Flights of Fancy. Local sourdoughs tend to grace the bready table, and homemade cheeses from local milk the dairy. Some entries, like local sheep’s yogurt, fit into more than one category: is it a cheese or a ferment? Wild cranberry relish, rosehip jelly and wild mushroom pie are all things that might be found at the Wild-crafted display. Anything goes in Flights of Fancy – in the first year an elegant ice castle of colored layers of herbal teas melted away next to a glowing golden cantaloupe.
Logistically, entries need to be dropped off between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the day of the event and are then displayed in a gallery format about the main hall of the community centre.
From 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. viewing ensues along with talks at each table before the by-now ravenous onlookers are allowed to begin tasting and testing the gorgeous creations. They are given stickers with their $10 tasting ticket with which to vote for their favourites by taste, presentation and ‘local’ity. This last is awarded for entries that make the most of local ingredients, or capture Yukon terroir to the highest degree. The prizes, awarded at 6:45 p.m., carry on with the themes of food and art.
While the festival is homegrown, participation is not restricted to Mount Lorners. Everyone is invited to participate.
“The competition is in good fun – we’re not real serious about it,” Alexandrovich says with a laugh.
I remember encouraging a newbie-fermenter last year who was feeling hesitant about entering. At the end of the day she waltzed out with first prize for her kombucha (a non-alcoholic fermented drink), student taking over from mentor in the court of public opinion. I can’t wait to see what she brings in this year!
While last-minute entries will be accepted, pre-registration is helpful for the organizers.
For more information and entry forms, check out the Lorne Mountain Community Association (LMCA) website at www.MountLorne.yk.net and click on “LMCA,” or call 667-7083. The Ingestible Festival takes place Sunday, August 28 at the Lorne Mountain Community Centre.