After months of hard toil, yesterday was harvest time for the organizers of Port Hope’s inaugural Cultivate Festival. When the gates opened up, the crowds poured in, the smell of freshly prepared local food wafted on the breeze, and some of the areas best musicians took turns delighting revelers of all ages. All the work had paid off.
“This has completely exceeded our expectations,” gushed organizer, Amelia Sheffield. “It’s a celebration of a food system where food goes from farm to restaurant to customer — and we’re seeing it modeled perfectly here today.”
Cultivate was designed as a food and drink festival that would bring area chefs, farmers, food producers, and brewmasters together to both celebrate local food and to further the local agricultural impact on restaurant menus.
Sheffield and co-organizer, Jeff Bray, were setting an unofficial number of 800 people as a sell-out for the event. That’s the number that participating restaurants and breweries were told to prepare for. By mid-afternoon, they had hit 700 and patrons were still arriving in droves. It’s safe to say that they more than hit their goal.
Participating restaurants and breweries included: Olympus Burger, Our Lucky Stars Cafe and Coffee Roasters, Burnham Family Farm Market (thanks for the butter tart, but… you know, I’m off the tarts), Electric City Bread Company, Pitchers Place, Rare Grill House, Cravingz, Empire Cider, The William Street Beer Co., NHB – Northumberland Hills Brewery, Manantler Craft Brewing Co., Smithworks Brewing Company, and more.
Alongside the tastes of Northumberland and Peterborough were the sounds. Standouts included Cobourg’s Gentlemen Husbands and Peterborough’s Melissa Payne. The night wrapped up with a rousing set by Toronto’s The Strumbellas.
Restaurateurs and brewers alike were impressed by the young festival.
Brad Watt of Peterborough’s Rare Grill House called it “the best festival I’ve been to in a long time. In a long, long time.” High praise from a man who travels far and wide with his food.
Chantel Green was at Cultivate representing the Electric City Bread Company — a restaurant that is committed to using as many local ingredients as possible.
“I’m blown away,” she exclaimed. “There are a lot more people that we expected. And the reception for the restaurants has been fantastic.”
Heather Harrison, owner of Cravingz saw the success of the festival as being a major step for the town of Port Hope.
“This has been an education on how much this community is willing to offer support,” she smiled. “I think we’ve just seen how much Port Hope is ready and willing to support this wonderful initiative — and the local food scene as a whole.
Some Farm to Table favourite moments from Cultivate: