Taste of Saskatchewan Is Ready for its 22nd Season!
By Ezekiel McAdams
July 7 2017
Taste Of Saskatchewan is returning for its twenty second year, July 11-16th.
The festival, founded by Scott Ford, who is also the executive director, was inspired by the Taste of Edmonton festival while he worked at the Edmonton Coliseum for former Edmonton Oilers owner, Peter Pocklington, in the early 90's. "I went to Taste of Edmonton, and it was more of a tasting thing, and I always felt hungry afterwards." Ford brought the idea back home, coincided it with a sporting event, The Great Northern River Roar, and started with twelve restaurants.
The festival was originally held in Friendship Park but Ford recalled that when they moved to Kiwanis is when the festival started doubling in size. "I personally feel it's one of the most beautiful festival locations in all of Canada. A number of years ago, Western Living Magazine, ranked it as the top Taste Of Fest in all of Western Canada. I lot I think is due to the spot." Ford said.
This year, the festival brings over thirty restaurants and fifty seven bands and artists over the course of six days.
Out of the thirty restaurants featured, five are brand new. October Authentic Asian Cuisine, Capitol Music Club, O'Shea's, Una Pizza and Wine and Quesada Burritos and Tacos. "We have an Asian, Irish, Mexican, UNA and Capitol, so pretty good groups."
Each year, the restaurant rotation changes, they drop the weakest performer and then look at all the restaurants that submit applications. Ford said in the early days they would do more scouting but now the festival is so popular that the restaurants come to them and sometimes it's too many. "It's a big commitment. A lot of our restaurants are family owned businesses, to run six days at Taste of Saskatchewan and to operate your restaurant is a challenge. Lots of our restaurants come in for different reasons, some come in to introduce their restaurant to the marketplace, others come in because they know it's very successful, or some come in because they have new items they want to expose." Ford said.
In terms of restaurants that constantly stay on the rotation due to popularity, Ford said that one of the biggest performers has always been. Homestead Ice Cream.
Ford is looking forward to the live music just as much as the food. "You're tasting Saskatchewan food and you're tasting Saskatchewan entertainment from Saskatchewan bands. That was our original premise. We have such great musicians, artists, throughout the city and province but there's not a zillion opportunities to perform, So we give them an opportunity to participate, perform and have some fun." Ford said. He fondly remembered The Sheepdogs performing for many years. "We're probably the largest festival in the province that promotes Saskatchewan entertainment. It's a great mixture, we don't segregate one type of music."
He attributed the great music selection to Konnie Horne, the entertainment coordinator. "She was originally with Saskatchewan Original Music Association. So she's always had her finger on the pulse of Saskatchewan music. She knows all the bands"
Food and music aside, what Ford is really excited about is having the FIBA 3X3 World Masters Tour as a neighbour this year. Saskatoon is hosting the annual Basketball tournament this year. While the two events are not partners, they will run in conjunction with each other downtown. One of the many teams is a local group, comprised of Michael Linklater, Michael Lieffers, Nolan Brudehl and Steve Sir.
The Chef Series is also returning for its third year. Ford is excited to announce the return of Chef Anthony and well as thirteen other chefs who compete in a live event. "It's a bit of a surprise. It's hard to plan and he gives them a box and they have to use their skills to design their food item. What's great about the Chef series to us, is it's basically Saskatchewan producers." Ford said.
Ford is also bringing a 50/50 this year to help benefit the Give Kids A Chance Charity. "The progressive 50/50, means over the six days, that there will be only one winner, so we're hoping we sell lots of tickets and we can give a new big cheque to kids sports." Ford said.
On the 15th and 16th, there will also be the Western Canadian Water Cross Association on the South Saskatchewan River. Behind the Chef Series, is the Kids Bill, with some entertainment and Bouncy Castle. There's also a Bike valet, that Ford is quite proud of.
In terms of managing the high volume, Ford is grateful to get help from SaskTel Centre staff that work the festival along with the Rotary clubs and the Saskatoon Roller Derby League (SRDL) who helps with waste management over the six days.
Taste of Saskatchewan will be in Kiwanis Park, July 11-16 and will feature restuarants Aroma Resto Bar, Booster Juice,Capitol Music Club, Fionn McCools, Homestead Ice Cream, La Bamba Cafe, Little Bird Patisserie & Cafe, Mardi Gras Grill, Mi Cast Restaurante, Nisen Sushi Restaurant, October Authentic Asian Cuisine, O'Shea's Irish Pub, Quesada Burritos and Tacos, Road Coffe Co, Royal Thai Restaurant, Sardina Family Restaurant, Saskatoon ASian Restaurant, Schryer's Smoked BBQ Shack, Seoul Korean Restaurant, Smoke's Poutinerie, Spicy Bite, The Asian Bowl Restaurant, The Berry Barn, The German Schnitzel Meister, The Karma Cafe, Tomas the Cook Restaurant, Tony Thomas Restaurant, Una Pizza & Wine and Wing World. And bands and artists, 17 Seconds Of Fuel, All Mighty Voice, Apollo Cruz, Brian Kendall, Brian McAreavey, Brewster and the Roosters, Broken Roads, Cassidy Lambert, Caught In A Dream, Chris Brinklow, Constant Reminder, Couple of Birds, Dirty & The Perks, Dukes Under Fire, Erin Hill, Firing at the Sky, Gorgeous Blue Dogs, Guy & The Fellas, Harreson James, Harreson James Band, Hollywood Persuasion, Jack Miller, Jack Walton and Mark Tynan, Jay Semko Jezebel, Kelly Read, Killjoy, Live One, Malick, Mike Hepp, Mitch Romancia, Kristan Couture, Mob Barley, Noble Liars, Purdy Birds, Riff Raff, Rory Lawford, Rugged Little Thing, Screamer, Serge Tremblay, Skaravan 1969, Small Kitchen Radio, Stuck in the 80's, Sunday Wilde, The 100th Meridian, The Barrelmen, The Chickadees, The Great Fuss, The Key of J, The Stephanie's, The Tarp Kickers, The Wolfe, Tommy John Ehman (TJE), Too Soon Monsoon, Topher Mils, The Whiskey Jerks, Wires & Wood
"It's got all the components of the great event. One it's free, we have fabulous food, it's a great dining experience and the pricing is great. When you're there, you run into people you haven't seen in years and it's an event that appeals to young and old alike