Given its popularity, it seems more than a few people have an appetite for a Taste of Woolwich, which promises to be both delicious and informative on Monday night.
The ninth annual installment of the event will feature all of the sumptuous local foods and treats of years past, along with a busy slate of workshops and demonstrations.
“This will be our second year hosting the event in Elmira, and the momentum just keeps growing,” organizer Barb Taylor said. “People are very interested in getting face to face with the suppliers of their food and finding out more about it, where it’s grown and knowing that it’s a reliable source. I think that’s the thing right now. People don’t necessarily want to get their food from abroad because they might not trust that it’s safe. But this way, you get to meet the farmers that are producing wonderful foods in our region and you get to make connections between products that you see in stores and the people who are behind them.”
Running from 5-8 p.m. on April 13 at St. Teresa of Avila Church at 19 Flamgo Dr. in Elmira, the event is free of charge, though donations to Woolwich Healthy Communities are appreciated. Admission includes access to a wide assortment of artisanal food samples and products available for purchase, along with the debut performance of the Woolwich Choral Society, which has a surprising show up their sleeves.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Nancy Staycer said. “It’s been excellent. Because it’s the first time we’ve done this, we had no idea how many people we could get involved. And then we started on that really stormy icy night (in February), we actually had 17 people out, which was just phenomenal. And it’s just grown from there over the past six weeks and I think we’re up to about 35 people now. It’s a lovely group, with some really nice voices and really nice people.”
With your ears and your taste buds looked after, the event switches over to your brain with several educational speakers.
First up at 5:30 Gil Langerak will share tips on small-scale urban vegetable gardening. At 6:15 the choral society will perform, then at 6:45 local farmer John Nederend will give a presentation on how the industry cares for and protects livestock.
“We’ve had people asking for that because a lot of people want to know more about animal welfare,” Taylor explained. “There are a lot of news stories that show inhumane practices, however it is important for people to know that the vast majority of farmers do take great care of their animals; it’s their livelihood.”
At 7:20 the “kids in the kitchen” demo returns with chef Ryan Terry of Flow Cafe and Catering in Elmira.
“We’re back again this year for the kids recipe competition,” Terry said. “It’s something that we really enjoy being a part of and I know that the kids really get a thrill showing off their creativity and their cooking skills. It’s a great way to get young people thinking about where their food comes from and to get them thinking about making informed choices when it comes to what they eat.”
For the fifth year now, Terry received recipes from aspiring chefs and foodies that called for the use of local ingredients. This year, the winning recipe is for a cheesecake that sources its eggs, milk and flour from local farmers in the township.
“There are so many kids these days that don’t even know what an eggplant looks like,” Terry said. “So it’s good to give them some knowledge about where we get our produce and product from. And being in Elmira, we are so close to a great food belt that is right in our backyard.”
The contest winners will be busy this weekend cooking in Flow Cafe and Catering’s professional kitchen getting ready to share their cake with hungry patrons on Monday evening.
Lastly, at 7:40 Woolwich Healthy Communities volunteer Inga Rinne will present the results from a recent trails study.
“There was a community consultation around signage for active transportation, so hiking and biking, and local food,” Rinne explained. “It’s about connecting hikers and bikers to local food along our trails. … Even people in the township seem to be surprised by the amount of trails we have nearby, and they aren’t all together clear on where they are.”
The goal is to get more people out and about on the trail system while also promoting local foods and farmers.
A Taste of Woolwich kicks off the Woolwich Healthy Communities month which will include a community cleanup on Saturday April 18, tree planting events on April 25, April 28 and May 2, hikes on April 20, April 26 and May 9, and storm drain painting by the Girl Guides and Scouts groups April 25.