Taste of Manitoulin Festival, a new event, is a 10-day focus on Island food, culture

by Nancy McDermid

MANITOULIN—The inaugural Taste of Manitoulin (TOM), is an exciting 10-day festival celebrating all things culinary and cultural to be held in communities throughout the island beginning this weekend.

Running from June 3-12, the event promotes local foods, culture and history as food producers, artists, musicians and restaurants combine their talents to promote local foods and cultural flavour.

In a press release by the Manitoulin Tourism Association and the TOM festival committee, local foods such as maple syrup, whitefish, leeks, fiddleheads, bannock, preserves and honey are mentioned as part of the “abundance of great food to sample” during the festival.

A passbook outlining the events that will take place during the festival’s “community days” along with a detailed map, will be available at the Manitoulin Tourism Association Welcome Centre on Highway 6, the MTA booth upstairs at the Trade Fair, ferry terminals and other Island tourist information booths for a $2 fee.

Commmunity Days, highlight activities occurring in towns and First Nations around the Island for the duration of the festival.

“Each of our communities has different historical and cultural backgrounds to draw upon, so to give everyone a chance to showcase that, we have made the festival a tour, with each day being a different focus on a different community,” said Laura Wall-Varey co-chair of the TOM committee, a position she shares along with Lois Keller. “That doesn’t mean that there are not events going on elsewhere on the island, but that the main events will be taking place in the chosen community for that day.”

Another feature of this unique festival is the availability of bus services, which will enable people to get to each of the community day locations if they do not have their own means of transportation or if they wish to leave the car at home.

“The bus transportation we are providing is specific to the community day locations and will be running throughout the days except for Tuesday, June 7,” Ms. Wall-Varey explained. The bus schedule will be published in the passbook, posted at bus pick-up points, and can be seen on the website www.atasteofmanitoulin.ca.

A bus ride from one community to another is $5 if a passbook, has been purchased and $7 if not. The passbook can be purchased from the bus driver.

Festivalgoers who visit businesses that have sponsored the festival can have their passports stamped to be eligible for up to $2,000 in prizes. The greater number of stamps, the greater number of entries for prizes.

For those who want to travel and explore on their own, they can plan their days around the festival highlights, or stop at smaller venues that display the blue and white TOM logo.

Increasing tourism in the shoulder season is one of the goals of TOM, which was awarded $120,000 in grants and fund money from government sources such as FedNor, LAMBAC, Celebrate Ontario, the Ontario Market Investment Fund and the Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Forestry.

Local organizations along with municipalities and First Nations involved include the Manitoulin Tourism Association, Great Spirit Circle Trail, LAMBAC the North Channel Marine Tourism Council, and the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce.

Expressing her gratitude for the funds and support of the aforementioned organizations, Ms. Wall-Varey added, “This festival is about showcasing the great history, culture and local foods that are readily available on the Island. We hope everyone—both local as well as visitors—will take this opportunity to visit and eat at places they have never been. We think you will be amazed at the great variety of dishes and local foods available, as well as the culture and history behind them.”

A general list of events follows, but for complete details it is best to consult the festival passbook.

Friday, June 3 is the festival launch at the Manitoulin Trade Fair XI, and at the Taste of Manitoulin Tent on the grounds of the Northeast Town Recreation Centre in Little Current, local restaurants will feature tasty specials prepared with local ingredients.

The following day from 9 am – 6 pm, visit the Culinary Cook-off at the Taste of Manitoulin Tent where professional chefs will strut their stuff for their chance to be named the top chef.

During the Trade Fair weekend, the Manitoulin Expositor booth #135 is the place to pick up your free copy of the Focus on Fish recipe book. This cookbook contains recipes for all of the Manitoulin Island fish species submitted by “Manitoulin cooks who love to prepare fish.”

The cookbooks will also be available at The Expositor Office open from 9 am – 5 pm on June 3 and from June 6-10.

Throughout the festival, the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah displays “Butter making on Manitoulin, From Cow to Table,” and the Little Schoolhouse and Museum in South Baymouth is open with an exhibit about the history of the township.

The Garden’s Gate Restaurant will be open for the duration of the festival featuring Rose’s fine cuisine made from many local ingredients.

Also open from June 3-12 is Gordon’s Park Eco Resort where Rita and Terry Gordon invite the public to visit their art exhibition and sale.

Visit the Debajehmujig Creation Centre’s K.B. Reynolds Mastin Gallery for an exhibition of new oil paintings by Marc-Andrè Brzustowski from 9 am – 4 pm during these festival days.

On June 3, from 9 am – 1 pm, join Linda Willson at her Our Garden market stall to sample her jellies and vinaigrettes as part of the Gore Bay Farmers’ Market on the Gore Bay waterfront.

At Timberlane Rustic Lodges on the south shore of Lake Manitou, proprietors Mark and Laura Wall-Varey will be hosting a pig roast. They invite the public to “put on your lei and come out to enjoy a Taste of Manitoulin with this Hawai-atoulin- themed dinner.”

Saturday, June 4 is the Little Current, Sheguiandah and Aundeck Omni Kaning community day. Visit the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation at the beautiful lakeside park for a traditional pow wow. Grand entry is at noon and 7 pm.

From 9 am – 1 pm the Northeast Town Farmers’ Market on Water Street by the Bank of Montreal, in Little Current will be selling local produce, baking and crafts.

Also on the same day in Mindemoya there will be a meet the artist’s reception at Route 50. Proprietor Annette Pearson invites the public to celebrate the artwork of several local artists including Marcus Mohr.

Sunday, June 5 is Wikwemikong Day with events to be announced.

The Big Lake Community Association will serve up a delicious breakfast at the Big Lake Schoolhouse on June 5 from 8 am – 2 pm.

Hike the Ice Lake Trail on June 5 with Linda Willson from Our Garden who will point out edible flora along a 4 km trail. The trail begins on the Ice Lake Road that runs off Hwy 542, south of Gore Bay. Inform Linda of your interest by emailing her at lindawillson5@gmail.com.

On Monday, June 6, Manitowaning, South Baymouth and Tehkummah hold their community day including a market with arts, crafts, plants and honey at the Tehkummah Hall from 10 am – 4 pm and a lecture on the merit of herbs called Bouquets of Basil from 11 am – 2 pm at the Garden Shed restaurant located at JD’s Garden Centre.

From 10 am – 6 pm visit St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Manitowaning for a historical tour, and homemade cake.

A theatre production by the Debajehmujig Theatre Group called Global Savages will be performed at 2 pm at the Debajehmujig Creation Centre in Manitowaning.

Visit South Baymouth for a meal at Carol & Earl’s Restaurant before visiting the South Bay Museum to tour a display depicting the history of maple syrup making on Manitoulin.

On Tuesday, June 7, called ‘Explore Manitoulin Day,’ a Cross Cultural Foods Workshop will take place at the Aundeck Omni Kaning Community Centre from 9 am – 1 pm sponsored by the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre.

June 8 is the Providence Bay, Spring Bay and Mindemoya community day, starting with a pancake breakfast at the Curling Club in Providence Bay, and possibly ending with a meal at the School House Restaurant in Providence Bay between 6 and 10 pm.

A Providence Bay movie night will be held at Providence House, 5252 Highway 551 (Mutchmor Street) from 6:45 pm – 9 pm and will feature the movie FRESH!

Pioneer Day in Mindemoya will be held in two locations where artists, artisans and writers will be “Evoking the times of yore.” Visit the Central Manitoulin Pioneer Museum and Jack’s Agricultural Museum for the experience.

Learn about the use of herbs in a workshop at Maja’s in Mindemoya from 2:30 pm -4:30 pm, or square dance in the evening with the Northern Lights Squares.

Thursday, June 9, is the Kagawong, M’Chigeeng community day featuring a farmers’ market in Kagawong, and a “Buzz about the Bees” event from 10 am – 4 pm at the Heritage Centre in the Old Mill.

While in Kagawong, sample chocolate at the Manitoulin Chocolate Works or visit Edwards Studios from 10 am – 4 pm for the Launch of the “Grand Manitoulin board game: Back in the Day.”

Local and seasonal food will be for sale at the Edwards Studios from 12 pm -4 pm prepared by Chef Carol Corneau.

In M’Chigeeng, visit the Weengushk Film Institute for an open house from 10 am – 4 pm and stop in at Lillian’s Crafts and the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation to view First Nations art. Maggie’s Café in M’Chigeeng is serving up Indian tacos all day and an open house at the Anishnaabemowin Elders Centre is being held from 9 am – 2 pm.

In Little Current, enjoy a Stone Soup Dinner served on the main street to help raise money for the Manitoulin Health Centre equipment fund.

Friday, June 10, is Gore Bay day and from 11 am – 4 pm the Gore Bay Museum hosts Manitoulin’s Bounty in Prose and Poetry, a collaboration by the Manitoulin Writer’s Circle and museum to celebrate Island food customs and cuisine.

In Little Current, come watch the Hawberry Hoedowners dance from 7 pm – 9:30 pm or visit Gordon’s Park in Tehkummah for Star Gazing beginning at 8 pm.

Saturday, June 11 is the Mindemoya, Big Lake, Sandfield Day. The Mindemoya Missionary Church offers a Good n’ Plenty breakfast and the Mindemoya market will be open from 9 am – 1 pm at the arena.

In Little Current from 10 am – 12 pm, visit the Water Street Bakery for a treat and a five-minute sketch by Little Current artist Marc-Andrè Brzustowski.

Gore Bay offers the Manitoulin’s Bounty in Prose and Poetry once again and the Hawberry Hoedowners square dance in the afternoon and evening at the Northeast Town Recreation Centre for their bi-annual Hawberry Jamboree.

In Providence Bay from 1 pm – 4 pm, drop in for an ‘Open House at Taste of Wellness, Reiki Pure and Simple,’ at 98 Cedar Crescent or why not pop by the Bluegrass in the Country at the Providence Bay Fairgrounds for all kinds of music and tasty treats.

Maja’s in Mindemoya will be holding a second herb workshop from 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

On Sunday, June 12, the final day of the festival, visit the west end of the Island as Sheshegwaning, Zhiibaahaasing, Silverwater and Meldrum Bay hold their community day.

Have breakfast at the Stop 540 Restaurant, worship from 10 am – 11 am at the Meldrum Bay United Church and visit the Spring Fair with its many vendors held by the harbour from 10 am – 5 pm.

Lunch is served at the Meldrum Bay Community Hall from 11 am – 1 pm and a tour of the Meldrum Bay Marina takes place at 1 pm.

Remain at the marina to be taken on a guided tour of the Mississagi Lighthouse at 1:30 pm.

Have dinner in Meldrum Bay at the Meldrum Bay Inn and Restaurant from 5 pm – 8 pm and enjoy live musical entertainment.

The Gore Bay Museum will again be offering Manitoulin’s Bounty in Prose and Poetry from 2 pm – 4 pm.