Special to the Gazette
The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival is moving up in the calendar in an effort to attract more visitors and take advantage of an expanded variety of local foods available during the summer harvest season, organizers announced this week.
The award-winning festival, which is now entering its seventh season, will be held July 18-20, 2014. It has traditionally been held in late September.
In an interview on Monday with the Gazette, Eugene Zakreski, executive director of the Stratford Tourism Alliance, said festival attendance this year dropped to just over 28,000 – down from the 33,000 it attracted in 2012. The last two years in particular have been hampered by either cool, breezy or wet weather conditions.
Trying to get away from what seems like consistently bad weather – with the exception of one year since 2008 – is the primary motive for the move.
"I think we're tired of fighting mother nature," Zakreski said.
Additionally, he noted restaurant and B&B owners indicated they are already fully booked in September and don't need a festival at that time of the year. Since there's no other festival in Southwestern Ontario during July, the culinary event will be great for the city, he added.
The 2014 festival will be presented by GE Café Appliances and hopes to attract between 25,000-30,000. As usual, the festival will showcase the best of Ontario’s producers, wineries and craft beer artisans along with the creativity of local chefs, while contributing an estimated benefit of $4.2 million to the local economy. In addition, renowned national and international chefs, culinary authors, artisans and innovators gather to share their passion, knowledge and love of food in a series of more than 30 talks, demonstrations and sampling venues.
More announcements regarding the festival's theme, program details and culinary guests will be announced in early 2014.