As the weather in Waterloo Region finally resembles a typical spring, outdoor festival season will soon be on the horizon. Later this month, people can spend the weekend outdoors enjoying the best in food, drink and entertainment under one umbrella at the all-new Forks and Barrels tour.
The festival begins its inaugural tour through Southwestern Ontario with its kickoff in Kitchener from May 24th to 26th at Bingemans On The Grand. Serena Haddad is the Forks and Barrels chief operating officer who’s aiming to fill a niche in the local food and drink festival market.
“With experience as vendors in other festivals, we noticed there was a gap in the festival industry,” Haddad said. “Many festivals are very niche or specific to a few things. We wanted to create a festival that could appeal to everyone. A festival that is beyond just performers or specific to beer or wine, a festival for all people.”
Where other festivals solely showcase beer, wine or food as the star of the show, Forks and Barrels takes the all-encompassing philosophy by catering to all festival goers, whether they’re fans of beer, wine, spirits or otherwise.
Waterloo Region is no stranger to the food and drink festival scene, but Haddad wanted to take a different approach with Forks and Barrels. It’s meant to emulate the "village within a city atmosphere" and will feature several themed sections. Beer geeks can visit the Beer Lane, vino aficionados can peruse Wine Avenue and food lovers can tempt their taste buds inside the Foodie Central section.
“Forks and Barrels is beyond just a food and drink show,” Haddad said. “Attendees can download our free app to track what they've sampled, rate their favourite vendors to be eligible for awards, vote for their favourite street artists, compete in tournaments, and explore our village through the scavenger hunt.”
Forks and Barrels pride themselves in taking an environmentally friendly methodology to their event. Haddad said it was extremely important to organize and eco-conscious festival, going as far as eliminating single-use plastic from their event entirely.
“At Forks and Barrels, we have banned the use of single-use plastics in serving attendees,” Haddad said. “We have even had to turn away some vendors in The Marketplace solely on the basis that the products they sold were in packaging that was not even recyclable. All waste at our festivals will be sorted. We will be composting, recycling, and minimizing what we send to landfill.”
With drink samples starting from two dollars and four-dollar food samples, it’s a low barrier to entry for festival-goers to sample from a wide array of vendors. Not only will craft beer, wine and cider be on display, distilleries will be there, too. Not a beer or wine drinker? You’ll find gin from Junction 56 Distillery in Stratford, spirits from Wolfhead Distillery and Amherstburg.
2019 is the inaugural year for this event and Kitchener is the kickoff for the tour. Haddad would love to make it an annual event in the region and encourages people to dip into a wide scope of food and drink at their fingertips. “I would like Forks and Barrels’ innovative approach to festivals to inspire attendees to try new things and realize all that there is to discover in their own backyard.”