How Fall Flavours Festival boosts small town profiles in PEI

Georgetown, population 555; Victoria, population 74; North Rustico, population 607; Alberton, population 1,100; Abram-Village, population 272: PEI is dotted with small towns and villages from tip to tip. Now just imagine the swell of activity and people that a typical Fall Flavours event brings to these picturesque yet minimally-populated spots.

When the PEI Fall Flavours Festival began 11 years ago, its goal was to drive tourism numbers up in the shoulder season—not for the whole Island, but for the city of Charlottetown. However, as part of the inaugural season, Tourism Charlottetown partnered with Experience PEI, taking festival-goers out to rural parts of the Island, allowing them to discover food-based activities like oyster tonging and potato harvesting.

By year three, the festival had recognized that expanding beyond the capital city’s reach was the way to go and Tourism PEI was on board to help promote and develop the festival further. Kent Thompson, director of finance and food tourism with Food Island Partnership said, “After two years, the regional tourism associations and government partners saw the opportunity to expand the festival to be province-wide and for the whole month of September. This has allowed the festival to showcase a wider variety of food products and more of the people involved in the food industry. It also allows visitors to explore the island and taste their away around PEI.”

As September begins and Fall Flavours goes into full swing, the bulk of Signature Events for the festival are now actually held outside Charlottetown. Le Festin Acadien Avec Homard, held in Abram-Village launches the month-long activities, you can take in Oysters on the Pier in Alberton, indulge in a four-course meal showcasing the Island’s best ingredients at three village restaurants in Victoria, experience Toe Taps and Taters in a potato warehouse in Canoe Cove or hit up any of the Taste of Coastal Communities events that are highlighted during the month (Georgetown, Tyne Valley, and North Rustico). There are many other events taking place across PEI, and local restaurants from east to west will be offering special menu items for the month as well.

A fantastic reason to get out of the city and check out the rural parts of PEI, these events are fast becoming Fall Flavour favourites for festival goers. Not without their challenges, however, Thompson said, “The rural areas are actually some of the best at stepping up and delivering events. People want to be involved; they want to share their passion with visitors so they learn more about the food they are eating and how it made it to their plates. If there’s a challenge, it’s that we push events to be more unique each year and really showcase the food industry to attendees.”

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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