Last year, my involvement in planning Slow Food Edmonton’s 4th annual Wild Boar & Beer BBQ was nominal – I helped with some of the promotion, such as putting together their first ever Scavenger Hunt, but other than that, I was just happy to be able to attend one of my first events as an official Slow Food member. This year, Maria and I leapt with both feet and decided to plan the event ourselves.
We started back in February, if you can believe it, but were able to secure the date early on with Alley Kat Brewery. In the months that followed, we met with several Slow Food members who had planned past BBQs, and helped us work through other details (thanks again to Vince Roy, Colleen Ingoldsby, Jennifer Cockrall-King and Gail Hall!). We eventually got Leva Cafe and Cafe Haven on board to make the side salads, two restaurants who already source many of their ingredients from local producers, and booked Earl Hagman from Hog Wild Specialties, who would be the man behind the boar. As the event drew nearer, we secured Martin Kerr as the afternoon’s entertainment, applied for the necessary permits, purchased insurance, printed tickets, rounded up door prizes, arranged to borrow tents, organized another scavenger hunt and ordered everything from porta potties to non-alcoholic drinks to dessert to cutlery – it really was an education for me, as it was the first time I had a hand in putting together such a large-scale event where we would be feeding nearly 200 people. It really wouldn’t have come together without Maria though – with my day job, it would have been challenging to make connections during business hours, so Maria took on the brunt of the necessary calls.
We knew the date would be a problem for some – August 8, 2010 fell on this year’s Folk Fest weekend. Many people did express that the date did create a conflict, but in the end, it was as close to a sell out as we could have hoped for. All we had left to do was keep our fingers crossed for good weather.
On Sunday morning, the forecast was looking good. Maria and Jeff had generously taken the 4:30 a.m. shift, having met Earl at the Brewery at dawn to help move the barbeque. They were back at Alley Kat at 9 a.m. to meet up with Mack and I, alongside Neil and a few other brewery staff for set-up.
Checking on the boar (all 140lbs of it, and on the ‘cue since 4:45 that morning)
Many hands made light work, and we were finished in no-time. Of course, there were still plenty of things of things to do, and over the next few hours, we made our way through the task list.
All ready to go!
Yvan from Tree Stone Bakery had been kind enough to donate all of the bread for the barbeque, including a huge loaf that we nicknamed the “surfboard”, for how large it was.
Mack has fun slicing bread (we included Mighty Trio Organics canola oil for dipping)
Many started arriving even before 1 p.m., but the Alley Kat volunteers were ready to handle the thirsty crowd. Their beer is a fine choice on any day, but even more so on a hot summer afternoon.
There was also iced Toddy coffee from Transcend and lemonade from Homestyle Beverages for those not interested in beer
Martin Kerr was tasked with establishing the mood for the event, and I think he did a great job – there’s just something about an acoustic guitar that seemed to fit so well with the casual vibe that afternoon.
Martin entertains the crowd
Thea had brought Slow Food swag in case anyone was interested, and was also great in lending us a hand that day when we needed it.
The Slow Food table
We could sense the crowd was getting hungry, and planned to start serving food once it looked like most of the seats were filled.
Jeff and Chad are ready to carve
Leva Cafe and Cafe Haven had delivered their salads earlier that afternoon, and they looked great!
Leva Cafe’s coleslaw featuring Caraflex cabbage from Riverbend Gardens (it was super-fragrant, from the sesame oil)
Leva Cafe’s mixed greens salad with Elderflower dressing featuring mixed heritage greens from Greens, Eggs and Ham, beets from Sundog Organics, and BC Blueberries from Steve and Dan’s (I really loved the blueberries)
Though we had originally planned for the food to be served buffet-style, we made a game-time decision to serve the food ourselves instead. It ended up being a great choice, if not only because it meant we were able to interact with every person who attended the event.
On the line
It was great to see some familiar faces – Liane from the Journal (who put together a very nice write-up of the event on her blog), fellow food bloggers Kevin and Lea, Jim and Elaine (who we met last year), and MP Linda Duncan.
Even my parents came out, and brought their friend Poh!
The line didn’t seem to diminish – every time we thought we were through, we looked up and saw that more people had joined the line. Really though, I probably just had no idea how many servings made up nearly 200.
The carvers hard at work
After we were done serving (yes, there were seconds available for most who wanted them), Maria and I doled out the door prizes.
Maria announces the winner of a jar of Lola Canola honey
Finally, we were able to relax – for a while anyway. The four of us settled down in the shade with our plates of food.
Maria and I
Mack and Jeff
All that was left was takedown – though most of the crowd left just after 4, we had several tables linger until nearly 5. By 6 that night, we were finally done.
At the end of the day, Maria and I were really happy with the event – no one went hungry, and we avoided any major catastrophes! Of course, we both acknowledge that this event would not have happened without our volunteers, including Thea, Chad, Tara, Jeff, and the crew from Alley Kat. We also have to thank many local businesses who helped us out in other ways:
- Mary Bailey of The Tomato for a full-page ad
- Bob Robertson for designing the Beer & Boar ad
- Yvan Chartrand of Tree Stone Bakery for donating bread
- Riverbend Gardens for donating cabbage
- Blue Plate Diner for donating potato-based plates
- Credo Coffee for donating corn-based cups
- Mary Ellen and Andreas Grueneberg and Patty Milligan for donating door prizes and lending us tents
- Ed Fong of DeVine’s for donating door prizes
- Julianna Mimande for donating a copy of We Eat Together
- Kerstin’s Chocolates for donating a door prize
- And last but not least – Neil and Lavonne of Alley Kat for hosting us and donating all of the beer.
Thanks to everyone who came out and helped to make the event a success!
You can check out Mack’s photo set here.