Food festivals fill the calendar with culinary celebrations

A buffet, a smorgasbord, a nosh up — call it what you want but August in Calgary offers up a delicious opportunity to sample the sugar and spice that makes the city so nice, which is the thriving culinary scene.

In this economy, fewer and fewer folks are able to afford a foodie night out at any of the incredible restaurants the area has to offer, so an opportunity to do it on the cheap and sample the wares of many chefs, many different styles, cuisines, cultural tastes and experiences is one that’s hard to pass up.

Luckily, again, the month provides several events where you can do just that.

Each has its own, shall we say, flavour, but the main aim is to showcase all of the tastes you can encounter with your stomach leading the way.

Go on, dig in and pig out.

Swimsuit season is almost over and winter is fast approaching so you may as well prepare for it with that extra layer of lard.

Brewery and the Beast

Aug. 27 at Fort Calgary

If your taste buds take you to just one eating event in August, you’ll probably want to set your sights and salivary glands on this ridiculously edible event.

As organizers promise, “Brewery and the Beast is a one-of-a-kind culinary event that brings together an extraordinary line-up of chefs and beverage makers to deliver a feast of fire-kissed meats, craft beers, cocktails, ciders and wines.”

Around since 2012, B&B, which dubs itself as The Festival of Meat, has tastings in Vancouver, on Vancouver Island and, of course, Calgary.

Showcasing locally sourced proteins and ingredients — including “proteins that are grown with integrity and transparency. All proteins featured in the chefs’ dishes are sourced from Canadian Farmers and Ranchers that raise their animals responsibly and ethically” — the more than 50 local chefs, brewers and distillers, the festival lets you eat your way through Alberta.

Tickets provide unlimited access to the food and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as eight tickets for adult beverages. (There is a VIP option which obviously gets you more.)

The list of high-end restaurants in one place is seriously stunning with a roster that features, among others, Bridgette, Charcut and Charbar, Deane House, Foreign Concept, Lulu Bar, Notable, Oxbow, the Living Room, Barbarella, The Nash, Rodney’s Oyster House, Flores and Pine, Pigeonhole and Fonda Fora.

Drink providers from at home and abroad include Banded Peak, Blindman Brewing, Uncommon Cider, Three Finger Jack Wine, Tito’s Vodka and coffee from Rosso.

If you can’t find anything to suit your tastes, then presumably you are a staunch vegan or subsist entirely on a steady diet of Big Macs and soda pop. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that …)

For more information, including tickets and the complete list of restaurants and beverage makers, please go to

Taste of Calgary

Aug. 3 to 7, downtown

Not to be outdone, this summer staple is back and bigger and better than ever in its two and a half decades.

Now spread out over five days, instead of last year’s four, and spread out further over its location at 4 Ave. and 8 St. S.W. to include shadier and grassier spots, there will be much more to munch and sup your way through, too.

The number of participating restaurants, food trucks, breweries and distilleries, has leapt to 90 and menu items now number 350.

A Taste of Calgary

Who and what’s on the menu?

Vendors include Big Fish and Open Range, Kitchen Lizard, Mama Dessert, Peak Pizza, Arepas Ranch, Mina’s Brazilian Steakhouse, Tasty Churros, Odd Burger, Simply Irie, The Dumpling Hero, Wafflepops, Mumbai Bites, Uzu Ice Cream, Bow River Brewing, Bridge- land Distillery, OT Brewing Company, Eau Claire Distillery and The Canadian Brewhouse.

Admission is, as always, free, with each dish ranging between two to seven tickets.

As for those tickets, this year Taste of Calgary will actually be paperless, with food lovers able to purchase a Taste Pass, which allows the ability to purchase taste tickets directly from each of the vendors and load them on the card.

Until Aug. 2 (5 p.m.) you can purchase the passes online and get a VIP entry which lets you skip the line at the fest. After that date, the Taste Pass can be purchased at booths at the festival or you can purchase their samples with debit and credit cards, which you can buy directly from which ever booth and flavour you’re craving.

There will, of course, be entertainment provided by such local acts as Peter and the Wolves, The Frontiers and Liz Christensen.

For more information and to get yourself a Taste Pass, please go to

BBQ on the Bow

Sept. 1 to 3 at Shrine Stables, 5151 101 St. N.W.

OK, this one is admittedly something of a tease. It’s less a sampling than a smelling.

Canada’s oldest sanctioned BBQ competition focusses on local pit masters and backyard, weekend warriors working their wonders on the smoking of meats in the Kansas City style.

It’s all about the contestants who are vying for prizes in various categories, such as brisket and ribs. The judges get to sample, while you get to sniff.

No, the actual low-and-slow act of BBQing is not that interesting to watch — unless you’re a meat-smoking reprobate who spends hours on end watching all of the Food Network and Cooking Channel shows about it — but it’s still a free, fun, family-friendly gathering of a pretty tight-knit community.

That said, there is an entertainment aspect to the weekend, with local musicians per- forming almost non-stop through the daytimes of the competition, including such notables as bluesman Tim Williams, roots act the Sadlier-Brown Band and R&B faves the Torchettes. No, you may not get to sample, but perhaps it will get your appetite ready for one of the many Calgary BBQ joints — The Palomino, Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey, Comery Block Barbecue or Big T’s — this city has to offer. Hell, maybe it may even inspire you to try your own hand at the art — and, yes, it is an art — and get ready to enter a team in next year’s BBQ on the Bow.