Cheese and meat festival switches to take-home model

The Victoria Cheese and Meat Festival has switched to a take-home model this year, due to new provincial health protocols regarding food sampling. But event producer Dave Bain has come to embrace the back-to-the-drawing board approach, and is calling the festival’s survival a win for everyone involved.

The annual event, originally set for May 9 at the Parkside Hotel & Spa, was in danger of being postponed entirely. But with support from his partner, Whole Foods Market, the executive director of Surge Business Productions arrived at an inventive solution. Patrons will now receive take-home box featuring products from 19 vendors, including meat, crackers, cheese, and pate.

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“The take-home package is worth well more than the ticket,” Bain said. “We gave everybody that had a ticket the opportunity to transfer theirs to our 2021 festival, or opt-in with this take-home package. Eighty per cent of our ticketholders took us up on the latter option.”

Bain, who saw his other event, the Victoria International Wine Festival, undergo a similar transformation this month, was expecting 1,500 people at the Victoria Cheese and Meat Festival. His interaction with guests will be limited to a matter a seconds during their respective pick-up times on Saturday and Sunday at the Uptown location of Whole Foods Market, but he’ll take it. That he could offer guests something in return was a bonus during the pandemic.

“People have given us a ton of supportive messages,” Bain said. “That keeps us going.”

The beer and wine offerings that would normally have been consumed on-site are being presented to guests via a passport program at participating establishments, which Bain hopes will bolster the beleaguered industry at the heart of his event. “The hardest hit businesses outside of the event industry are small, mom-and-pop shops,” Bain said.

“Our hope is that our ticketholders see the value in supporting these people. We are doing this to ensure that companies who participate get the exposure and the consumers have something fun to look forward to in this time of uncertainty.”

Tickets for the Victoria Cheese and Meat Festival are available for purchase for $89.99 from eventbrite.ca.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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