It started with a ride from Ottawa to Vankleek Hill on a yellow school bus. Ours seemed like it were last used by French-immersion grade schoolers with pictures of barnyard and zoo animals taped to the ceiling. Everyone, labelled in French.
On board, some very enthusiastic volunteers, some new and others returning, chatted about the day to come. This includes one who volunteered the day before. Smart-serve certified, he spent Friday, serving beer. He would volunteer Saturday and again the following Sunday.
A three-day affair, Beau’s Oktoberfest 2011 is an annual event in its third year. What started out as an annual Bavarian celebration hosted by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company four years ago for its staff has become a heavily anticipated Autumn festival. Tickets for the second day, Saturday, sold out, leaving none at the gates. In fact, a thousand early bird tickets, packaged with a promotional cd of recorded music by the invited performers, went on sale Friday, August 19, 2011. They sold out before advance purchase general admission tickets could be made available. An estimated 8500-9000 guests walked through the gates during the festival.
Beer-wise, Oktoberfest featured eight Beau’s brews on tap, six made exclusively for this event (Two-Weeks’ Notice, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Smokin’ Banana Peel, Weis o’ Lantern (pumpkin) and Le Sacré). Additionally, thirty “one-off” cask ales from Ontario and Quebec craft breweries were made available. The craft breweries, who participated in this year’s “Cask Days”, hosted by Toronto’s BarVolo, included Qubec’s Dieu Du Ciel, Ottawa’s Clocktower, Barrie (Ontario)’s Flying Monkeys, Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery, and Guelph’s Wellington Brewery.
[inverted fluorescent tube cardboard]
Food-wise, participating restaurants included Knox Fine Dining, Ballygiblins, Swiss Pastries, Cheshire Cat Pub, Seed to Sausage, Pascale’s Ice Cream, Element Bistro, Domus, and The Piggy Market.
Lunch, during my shift:
Dinner, after my shift:
It being my birthday weekend, I didn’t stay for the musical guests, working only one 6 hour shift. My being stationed with one set of participating restaurant as their runner, I only caught a glimpse of the beer keg toss. Fellow Ottawa food blogger Katy Watts of Sheltered Girl Meets World, also a birthday girl that weekend, was said to have run the spouse-carrying race with someone else’s spouse. I still have no idea what is a “Stein-Holding Struggle.”
Event-wise, it was glorious. Unlike the year before, the sun did not break through the clouds at noon. Instead, the skies opened up, ensuring everyone spent the day in some semblance of wet, at least moist. Coupled with the wind and cold, any lesser festival would have fallen apart.
Not this one. Music played. Beer flowed. Attendees clamored to purchase hot food, particularly sausage and schnitzel. People kicked up their heels on the slickened dance floor. In fact, the heavier it rained, the more people seemed to walk through the gates.
Different this year than last, the Beauchesne family, owners and operators of Beau’s All Natural Brewing brought in Enviro Dish. Like Ottawa’s Folk Festival and Feast of Fields, the restaurants largely served their wares on reusable dishware and cutlery. Behind the food tents were dish pits with biodegradable dish soap and volunteers washing dishes. Volunteers bussed dirty dishware and cutlery back to them. Runners, myself included, ran clean dishware and cutlery to the concessions. We also ran refreshments and anything else the participating restaurants needed from napkins to chalk.
Concession-wise, there were only lineups later on in the afternoon. Still, the lineups were shorter than last year’s. People were courteous. Everyone, enthusiastically chanted “Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa; Zicke-Zacke-Zicke-Zacke Hoy, Hoy, Hoy!”
I met Jordan Bamforth, Beau’s talented graphic design artist, who recognized me from Facebook. I shook hands with Mike McKEnzie of Seed to Sausage, Ontario’s “Newest Salumeria”; he, a big fan of Ideas in Food. I met the crew from Cheshire Cat Pub, who served, by far the largest plate at the festival: Reuben sandwich, German beef ribs, and potato salad (spiked with bacon). I laughed as the husband of another fellow Ottawa Food Blogger, Jodi Lariviere of Simply Fresh, asked me, “Anyone told you, you’re not supposed to work on your birthday?”
To Tina, thank-you for organizing the volunteers. It was fun working for you.
[Phil was my volunteer supervisor last year. He pledged to shave the hair on his head and his eyebrows if $500 were donated to a charitable cause on Saturday. He was good to his word.]
To Beau’s, you threw yet another great event. Congrats!
I can’t wait to hear how much Beau’s Oktoberfest raised for its various causes: Canadian Red Cross, the Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society, and Good Food Revolution. The goal was $50,000.
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company has announced totals on the funds raised at their Oktoberfest event, held two weekends ago in Vankleek Hill at the fairgrounds. Thanks to the 10,000 people who attended, more than $60,000 was raised for various charities over three days.
The Canadian Red Cross and Good Food Revolution will share $42,000 evenly ($21,000 each), to put towards their good work. The Red Cross is well known as a leading humanitarian organization, and Good Food Revolution is a not-for-profit with a mandate to educate Canadians about artisanal food in Ontario, Canada, and around the world.
Source: Taps: The Beer Magazine
Update 2: As last year, my Hintonburger Finish
[with caramelized onions that were finished in Beau’s Lug Tread]