Mack and I are creatures of habit, so for the past few years, it is no surprise that we haven’t changed up our Canada Day tradition of downtown fireworks…and nothing else.
This year, we were extended an invitation to check out the Sturgeon County Bounty, an event that was a part of the Canada Day festivities held at the Edmonton Garrison. Although the festival was first developed for the military families living on the base, it has now evolved into a full-scale community party, with residents of all surrounding townships participating.
Until we arrived, we really weren’t aware of the scope of the event. It. Was. Massive. The parking lot was filled to the brim, having transported literally thousands of people to the site (someone told us that 20,000 people were estimated to attend this year).
At the Garrison
Walking through the grounds, we discovered quickly why it was so popular – there was something for everyone. From musical acts to street hockey to an RV and vintage car show, the festivities were spread out over many acres, and yet, still had a small-town feel to it all.
The family area was absolutely packed, excited children lined up for face painting, old-fashioned carnival games, and amusement rides (tea cups! ponies!).
Tubs of fun!
Of course, the main attraction for us was the food, so we headed straight for the tents at the far end of the site. The vendors were equally busy, and one had to think the short serving period of 11am-2:30pm might have had something to do with it.
Because we were guests, we were lucky enough to skip the ticket line-up, and received 30 tickets (valued at $1 each) to spend as we wanted. Most items were in the 4 to 6 ticket range, although there were some steals to be had for just 1 ticket (you can see the menu here).
Delicious cookies made with Mack’s favourite no-nuts peabutter (and at 3 for 1 ticket, they were the best deal we found)
This was the second Sturgeon County Bounty ever organized. The first took place last October at the Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm, but was much smaller in scope (and, focused on the fall harvest, highlighted goods made with pumpkin). The objective of the event is to showcase area producers and food processors, such as Rose Ridge Land and Cattle, based in Thorhild.
Although each tent had a menu tacked up, it faced inside, making it difficult to see from a distance. Combined with the lack of individual paper menus (a nod to the environment?) made browsing the options a literal exercise. I liked that each producer had official Sturgeon County Bounty information cards available (similar to the ones distributed at Sip! last year), but as a takeaway, a single summary sheet combined with menu items would have been more efficient. On the environmentally-friendly front, especially given the volume, I would hope they consider plant-based cutlery and plates next year.
The lines weren’t for the faint of heart
We started out with a slice of perogy pizza, a fruity chicken skewer and stuffed mushrooms from Don’s Steak and Seafood Bistro. The pizza was quite good – all the fixings of a perogy (potato, sour cream, green onions)on a decent crust . The skewer, not so much, dry and flavourless as it was. The mushrooms were okay, though the stuffing of chicken and vegetables wasn’t prominent through the breading.
Pizza, chicken and stuffed mushrooms
I really liked the alpaca burger from Belle Valley Farms – I probably wouldn’t have known it was alpaca if not for the sign. And paired with the saskatoon jam, it would be an excellent way to introduce others to this lesser-known local protein.
We easily waited forty minutes for Rafter 2M’s beef sliders. They were definitely not worth the wait (nor could we figure out why they couldn’t push the food out any faster), but were tasty enough.
Mack wasn’t impressed with the wait for his beef slider
The shortcake from Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm was summer on a plate. The berries and rhubarb were fresh, just starting to seep their juices, and combined with a touch of whipped cream and doughy biscuit, was perfect on that sunny, summer day.
Shortcake with strawberries, rhubarb and saskatoons
The saksatoon sorbet from Berry Ridge Orchard was equally memorable. It was a little creamier and thicker than sorbets I am used to, but it was delicious.
Elaine from Allium Foodworks was also on hand to do a cooking demo at the event. We sampled some of the alpaca meatballs she had on hand, coated with the most amazing sauce.
Elaine cooking up a storm
Before we left, we were treated to quite the show in the sky. Pilots showed off their deft flying skills, much to the delight of the crowd.
Is it a bird? No, it’s a plane!
Drinking in the sunshine
Thanks to the Sturgeon County Bounty for the invitation! It was great to discover such an amazing event right in our own backyard!
The next Bounty event is scheduled for October 1, 2011. Check the website for more details.