Festival more fun with food
Community meals popular part of Celtic Colours
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,”
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.”
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.