With Canada Day fast approaching, it is time yet again to celebrate all things Canadian. In the case of the four days that comprised the tenth annual Westfest, which came to pass almost a month ago, the festival celebrated Canadian artistic expression. So, performance art from music to dance and spoken word.
Westfest was founded in 2004 by producer and artistic director Elaina Martin. The inaugural festival was a one day event, drawing 5,000 people. Thereafter, it grew. A partnership with the Westboro Village BIA paired main and community stage programming with a street party, closing off a long stretch of Richmond Road from McRae to Golden Avenues.
Still, just as media events and product launch parties are underpinned by the catered nibbles served, concessions at festivals are important. For years, Martin has worked hard to support local independent vendors. She actually has a waiting list of businesses that want to participate, setting up something either at the main stage or along Richmond Road.
Now, There was a bit of drama this year that we’re not getting into in this post, regarding what is more than likely Ottawa’s first food truck “alley.” Suffice it to say, the less than pleasant interactions between Westfest and operator Leo Raguseo, who also owns the Pizza and Panini food truck, resulted in sponsoring vendors being issued signage, identifying them as official concessions.
That said, here is a glimpse of the concessions and dining options along Richmond Road.
Ever been to the Chicken and Ribfest on Sparks Street? Railroad Ribs would fit right in…
Ever spend a day the Turkish way? We highly suggest you do during the upcoming annual Turkish Festival.
A little trivia about the Ottawa restaurant scene, restauranteur Stephen Beckta loves pork belly. There is usually something pork belly on the menu at his three restaurants.
The artists performing on Westfest’s main stage need to eat too.
Platinum sponsor Dish Catering was this year’s primary caterer for the VIP area. Owner Erin Clatney also set up a food showcase, tapping local chefs and food artisans to serve dishes alongside. On Friday, Steve Wall from Supply and Demand was on hand with support from Murray Street Kitchen‘s Steve Mitton. On Sunday, Paul Dubeau of Seed to Sausage provided charcuterie bites. On Saturday, Josh Bishop of The Whalesbone Oysterhouse shucked oysters for grateful guests and performers.
Besides retrofitting a fry truck to retail the same bites to the audience, Clatney and her Chef Ryan Janssens (formerly of Taylor’s Genuine) prepared and served some rather delectable nibbles.
Recognizing one another, the last time we spoke with Janssens was two years ago at a Kelp anniversary event. Like other participants, Janssens served his take on street food, sous vide and smoked ox tongue. He must have moved on to join Dish shortly thereafter.
Here’s to another 10 years of Westfest!
Much love, Elaina!
Marc Smith spent thirty days in Ottawa, gathering experiences for his travel blog 30 Day Adventures after attending #TBEX in Toronto. A Vancouverite with a big heart, a healthy appetite for excitement, and a talent for enchanting those around him, he found many things to love about our ever growing food scene. Click here for his post on Westfest. We took him on a tour.