Fes­ti­val more fun with food

Com­mu­nity meals pop­u­lar part of Celtic Colours

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON

When you’re chow­ing down on one of those com­mu­nity meals as­so­ci­ated with the Celtic Colours In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, spare a thought for hard­work­ing singer-song­writer Bil­lie Yvette.

In her day job as out­reach co­or­di­na­tor for Celtic Colours she may be bet­ter known as Yvette Rogers. She’s the woman who is pretty much re­spon­si­ble for you get­ting fed in the first place – with­out hav­ing to sing for your sup­per.

Most com­mu­nity meals are held in ru­ral ar­eas where there may not be many op­tions for food be­fore and af­ter events, es­pe­cially out­side the sum­mer months when many busi­nesses may close for the sea­son.

“The rea­son why the com­mu­nity meals be­came an im­por­tant

in­gre­di­ent is be­cause our con­certs are so far-flung that of­ten peo­ple don’t have the

op­por­tu­nity to eat be­cause the restau­rant nearby might be tiny and full or it’s in a ru­ral set­ting,”

says Rogers.

While con­certs set in small com­mu­ni­ties have their own charms, the lack of ac­cess to food turned out to be an area of com­plaint in pre­vi­ous years, she added.

“When au­di­ences were sur­veyed a while back one of the key com­ments of the things that scored well were the qual­ity of the events and they loved the peo­ple but things that scored low at the time were the con­di­tion of the roads and lack of avail­able food. So that be­came a key con­cern.”

To­day, the meals are set up in co-or­di­na­tion with the con­certs with com­mu­nity groups or­ga­niz­ing, pre­par­ing and serv­ing the meals that are ad­ver­tised on the Celtic Colours web­site. When a vis­i­tor de­cided to book a con­cert ticket, they can also book a nearby meal through the web­site.

“Of course we want peo­ple to use lo­cal res­tau­rants as well but what we were find­ing is that there were more bod­ies to feed than there were seats to put them and so the meals are a great way to get them fed plus give vis­i­tors an au­then­tic Cape Bre­ton ex­pe­ri­ence and it gives lo­cals an op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple from away who wanted to come to the is­land.”

While Celtic Colours looks af­ter the con­certs, those groups host­ing meals are in charge of those events.

The money raised by the meals goes back to the com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion, of­fer­ing them a fundrais­ing op­por­tu­nity as well.

As well, some meals fea­ture lo­cal in­gre­di­ents with some of­fer­ing 50 per cent or more Nova Sco­tia in­gre­di­ents. Rogers says it is hoped this will have a fur­ther in­flu­ence on the prov­ince’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

“A lot of these groups may do a break­fast once a month or a sea­sonal sup­per as a fundraiser so if they’re con­nected with lo­cal sup­pli­ers then they may be more in­clined to do that again. And then it sup­ports lo­cal pro­duc­ers. We’re re­ally hop­ing that as­pect of the din­ners will grow.”

Rogers is op­ti­mistic the com­mu­nity meals will con­tinue to be a pop­u­lar part of Celtic Colours.

“It’s a re­ally great way for peo­ple to break bread to­gether and en­joy good home cook­ing.”

EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Tom Young, owner of Kitchen Party Cater­ing and The Lit­tle Rollin’ Bistro, checks out one of three pots of corned beef be­ing cooked for a com­mu­nity meal at Brooks Haven Se­niors Recre­ation Cen­tre in Prime Brook ear­lier this week. Be­tween the three pots, 130 pounds of corned beef was be­ing cooked for the 120 peo­ple ex­pected to at­tend the tra­di­tional corned beef and cab­bage meal, one of 74 com­mu­nity meals planned dur­ing this year’s Celtic Colours In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val.

Rogers

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