If you have been searching for some of the best food, drink, artwork, wood carvings and so much more because the popular 'Taste of the Valley' events are returning to Renfrew County this year, with six locations scheduled across the county.
This year will be one of the most anticipated series of events since it was on a two-year forced hiatus due to COVID. The organizers really had no choice as the Cobden event attracts up to 5,000 visitors annually when it is held each October at the Cobden Fairgrounds. The showcasing of Renfrew County finest local products premiers in Barry's Bay in August and continues through to the Saturday before Thanksgiving weekend in October.
Along the way, this caravan of producers that includes several farmers, artisans, musicians, and others will make stops Barry's Bay, Eganville, Renfrew, Deep River, Arnprior and Cobden.
County of Renfrew is taking the lead for 'Taste of Valley' events.
When the first Taste of the Valley was held in 2007, the organizers decided the best way to promote local food was to showcase local food and what better way than to advertise free local samples from 25 local producers. It was held inside the Cobden Agricultural Hall and among the early vendors were bison producers, maple syrup, pork, beef and lamb farmers made their way there. They were joined by local bakers, honey producers and farmers bringing in products from the fall harvest.
The organizers were hoping for a crowd of 500. They were wrong. Close to 2,000 residents and visitors travelled from all parts of the Valley and Eastern Ontario to sample the products, but more importantly to purchase local goods to support local farmers and others involved in the agri-business.
From there it grew by adding a second location in Barry's Bay and the Cobden event grew from 2,000 to 5,000 visitors and the number of vendors went from 25 to 60, with many of them setting up in the parking lot alongside the Cobden Farmers' Market vendors.
Along with the products for sale, some of the venues feature musicians, and other artists onsite to entertain the visitors. Perhaps the greatest draw for regular and first-time visitors is the free admission and free parking. First-time visitors are encouraged to bring along shopping bags to carry the products throughout the grounds.
it is also a family-friendly event and pets are allowed, but the organizers ask that guests refrain from bringing pets inside any buildings at the various locations. The last Cobden event had over 100 vendors and it expanded from food to include arts, jewellery, craft beer, authors and artists and many more.
Marshall Buchanan, owner of Farm to Fork near Dacre, is a long-time vendor at the Taste of the Valley events. Taste of the Valley markets are a lot of fun," he remarked. They feature big crowds, lots of friends and great sales."
Last week the call went out for vendors to reserve a spot now with the first event scheduled for August 19 in Barry's Bay. For more information on all upcoming events and applications to participate can be found at www.totv.ca.