Cornucopia is poised to match last year’s record-breaking ticket sales, but, on the flip side, the number of volunteers for the 11-day food and drink festival is on the decline.
“It’s a great way for new people to town to meet both other new people and people who have been here for a long time,” said Sue Eckersley, president of Watermark Productions, which produces the festival. “Other events have suffered for a long time for volunteers, but… we’ve never been in this position before. We’re not in dire shape, but it’s definitely an odd feeling for us. It’s well known that we take really good care of our volunteers.”
To that end, volunteers take on a range of festival duties from polishing glasses to serving food and pouring wine for four-hour shifts, she added. (Those who would like to sign up can email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“It’s a variety of jobs, but they’re fun,” Eckersley said.
Behind-the-scenes work aside, the festival is jam-packed with events and seminars this year. One of the highlights is the With A Twist event, which is teaming up with Centerplate, the Whistler Conference Centre’s catering company, to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. That event first started last year and featured a silent disco and cocktail party — only not everyone in the crowd was pleased when the 20s music blasting over their headphones turned more contemporary. “We had people swing dancing and dancing to jazz and they were so happy,” Eckersley said. “Then (the DJ) got to rock ‘n’ roll and they said, ‘what’s happened to our music?’”
This year, there will be three channels in the disco, including ‘20s and ‘30s jazz and contemporary music. But on top of that, thanks to the Centerplate partnership, there will also be food — though the ticket price will remain the same.
“It’s a great opportunity for locals to get out and enjoy an event that’s priced really well and is really good value,” Eckersley added.
Other events that are local favourites are House Party, which features the best of B.C. food, wine, spirits and beer, as well as Night Market: Taste of the World, which includes street-style cuisine from around the world. “Both of those are selling considerably ahead of last year,” Eckersley said. “And both sold out last year.”
The festival’s signature tasting events, Crush and Poured, have also expanded this year. Poured will have 50 purveyors and Crush will have 75. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to Crush 10 times, you’ll find dozens of drinks you haven’t been able to taste before,” Eckersley added.
For budding foodies, the Cornucopia Junior Chef workshop is returning for a second year for kids age 13 to 18 who want to learn more about cooking, food and nutrition.
“It’s already over 50 per cent sold out,” Eckersley said. “It’s something that as an event, we’ve invested in. We believe it’s important for kids to be educated in culinary skills and the food they eat.”
To see all of the seminars, workshops and events running as part of Cornucopia from Nov. 9 – 19, visit whistlercornucopia.com.