By Marcia Love
Visitors came hungry and left satisfied from the Taste of Maple Creek on Saturday.
The fifth annual event was the biggest it’s ever been, with a huge crowd coming out to sample the variety of cuisines found within the community.
Ten vendors took part – up one from last year’s event. They included the Bel Air Gardens, BC Cafe, Commercial Hotel, Cypress Pizza & Chicken, Daily Grind, Howard’s Bakery, Maple Creek Diner, Rockin’ Horse Cookhouse & Bar, Roundup Food Bar and Star Cafe & Grill.
A total of 4,070 tickets were sold to sample the food – about 570 more than last year.
Royce Pettyjohn, community development officer and Main Street Program co-ordinator, noted the event did an excellent job of promoting the community, drawing many visitors from Medicine Hat and Swift Current.
“At one point I was down by the Jasper Hotel, and I looked back on the event, and it was literally wall-to-wall people from the Jasper Hotel to the Bank of Montreal, solid all the way down to the Credit Union pocket park,” he said of the huge crowd. “We couldn’t be happier with the turn out.”
Not only did the event promote local dining to visitors, but it opened the eyes of locals as well to just how fortunate Maple Creek is to have as many restaurants as it does for a small community.
“You know all of the restaurants, but you don’t really give thought to exactly how many there are,” Pettyjohn pointed out. “And that’s one of the things that I think we can be quite proud of in Maple Creek is that we’ve got a great variety of restaurants and the caliber of our restaurants is really quite remarkable.”
Because vendors ran out of food before the end of last year’s Taste of Maple Creek, they were encouraged to make even more this year. They did, but still sold out before the two-hour event was over.
At the Maple Creek Diner’s booth, owner Sunny Jun reported they ran out of food within an hour. Their sushi was very popular, and all 210 pieces of their dynamite roll went fast. Jun said they made the same amount as they did at last year’s event as she wasn’t expecting as big of a crowd due to the poor weather forecast. But, aside from gusts of wind, the weather was fairly co-operative.
Howard’s Bakery served Ferrero Rocher tarts and English toffee truffle tarts. Owner Howard Wong said they made almost 500 tarts and were sold out in an hour-and-a-half. They made 300 last year.
“We thought we weren’t going to sell very many… but then when everybody was done eating they wanted dessert,” Wong laughed.
In talking to visitors, Pettyjohn said many were impressed by the number of events going on in Maple Creek and the community spirit. It keeps them coming back.
“It’s really portraying the community in a very positive light to those from the outside – potentially those that may be interested in coming and shopping and dining here,” he said, adding there are also those interested in moving to town. “When you look at some of the property sales recently, it’s all people from out of town. They first come here as a visitor and were impressed with the community and decided to relocate here.”
Partnering with other organizations in town to have several activities and events the same day is also a big draw. The Creek Classics Car Club’s Show ‘n’ Shine in the Jasper Centre yard had a high number of entries and was a very popular place, and the Art in the Tent splatter art in front of the SW Sask Oldtimers’ Museum was an enjoyable addition to the big event as well. The day wrapped up with the Cypress Cyclones’ Street Dance, featuring the music of Swift Current’s Lady and the Tramps.
“Being able to package all of these experiences together in one day really makes the town a destination point for that day,” Pettyjohn said.
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