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Eat East of Edmonton - A Showcase of Local Food Event

Posted on Wednesday October 21, 2015 at 11:40AM

Eat East of Edmonton -a success for Local Culinary Tourism

By Susan Hodges Marlowe

Eat east of Edmonton 2015 Show
Culinary tourism is on the rise in Alberta and Eat East of Edmonton is leading the way to bringing local food to the spotlight. To help enlighten the general public about culinary tourism Go East of Edmonton Regional Tourism Organization (RTO) in partnership with the Battle River Alliance for Economic Development (BRAED) held Eat East of Edmonton - A Showcase of Local Food in Viking on September 30th.
“The planning for the event started when we partnered with BRAED to build a data base for local food producers, restaurants and people who supply foods to restaurants within the BRAED and RTO area,” said Cheryl Livingstone chair of Go East of RTO.
“Tonight was the launch of that and to let people know what we have done in the last year and the activities that have taken place.”
All of the foods served at the event were locally produced and those attending the event were able to sample locally made cheese from Tiras Dairies in Camrose, Bison meatballs from Vermilion Packers and wine from Birds and Bees winery from Brousseau to name a few.
Livingstone has been involved in Go East of RTO since its inception about three years ago and it is a regional tourism organization which promotes tourist facilities east of Edmonton. As an owner and operator of Red Feather Ridge with her husband Doug their dream of culinary tourism started 9 years ago.
“We started attending tourism organizational meetings and we have been open seven years now. I wish I had done it when I was 30 instead of now as it is hard work but we very much enjoy every minute of it,” said Livingstone.
The boundary of Go East of RTO goes between Edmonton and Lloydminster, Camrose to Bodo and then to Smoky Lake east towards Cold Lake.
“We have had some major people support it such as Mary Bailey from The Tomato which is a magazine about local food and drink and Gail Hall who is a foodie and because they are interested then the people who follow them are also interested,” said Livingstone.
“Our plan next year is to move our Eat East tour and event further north although we haven’t yet decided how far north we will go. People would like to be involved and have indicated they would also like to be a part of the Eat East of Edmonton promotion.”
Gord Snyder who has been the main coordinator behind Eat East of Edmonton for the past two years was also pleased with the event.
“This evening we are celebrating two years of work on two major projects: the Eat East of Edmonton culinary trails and the data base. The Go East regional tourism organization and partners have made a significant mark on the tourism industry in Alberta to date. Working together is the key to success in rural tourism,” said Snyder.
With the growing popularity of culinary tourism interest has also grown with municipalities and counties as they are also looking for ways to bring activities such as this into their communities. The partnership between Go East of RTO and BRAED just seemed to be a natural fit according to BRAED chair Arnold Hanson.
“Our group represents 29 communities in eastern Alberta and I look at it as we have the power to develop a tool box to invite people to do economic development in our area,” said Hanson. “Go East is one of those things that if we can bring people into our community it will maybe make an avenue to create a business. We were very happy to sponsor this event because we think it is important - it brings people to rural AB. They say if you can get someone to visit your community and they see something they like they may come back and develop a business in that community. So if you have an idea we are open for business in this region.”
Also in attendance was local MLA Dr. Richard Starke who said tourism has always been a passion of his and he is thrilled with Go East of RTO and the plans they have for culinary tourism.
“At times like these when our economy is facing challenges we look for things like tourism to diversify our economy. One of the things I have always promoted is rural tourism as it is truly an untapped resource within our province and there is no better part of AB to go visit than the areas outside our big cities,” said Starke.
“The thing that makes rural tourism so great is that you will find some people who like to go to museums and some who want to do some recreational activity or biking and camping but what they all have in common is that they all have to eat. They all eat three times a day and so regardless of what activities they are in they have to eat and if we can add to the tourism experience a unique culinary experience to experience the foods that are produced in the places they are visiting it will certainly enhance their experience and that is a key part to a successful tourism operation.”
The event capped off with a presentation by Kevin Kisilevich of Go East of Edmonton tourism.
Kisilevich made several presentations on AB Culinary Tourism Alliance (ACTA) and updated the audience on recent activities in the region and across Alberta. A promotional video was also unveiled which was created by Story Chaser Productions of the first Go East Culinary Trail which took place over the summer.
Those attending finished off the event by enjoyed a locally produced supper of turkey, cabbage rolls, vegetables, salads and pies. The evening ended with four local producers sharing their experiences as business owners.
“It is important that our stories are shared as it lets people see the success behind the hard work. Culinary Tourism is hard work but when you listen to the success producers are now experiencing it makes you excited to see how this is going to continue to expand and grow,” said Kisilevich.
“We are just seeing the birth of this industry and it will continue to grow and prosper. There is just so much opportunity out there and we are all thrilled to be a part of that.”

For more information about Go East of Edmonton RTO visit their website at www.goeastrto.com and for more information about Eat East of Edmonton go to www.eateastofedmonton.com

Author: Eat East of Edmonton

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