Print Edition: July 17, 2013
To be honest, my first impression of the event was disorganized. We entered onto a pathway and were met by a few vendors, including TD Bank offering reusable bags and the option to digitally plant a tree (I’m told the real tree will be planted in Coquitlam). It wasn’t until walking into the middle of the tents and throngs of people that the information booth could be found. After unsuccessfully trying to find the gardening workshop, it seemed that the best place to start was the sip and savour garden.
With 22 wineries and breweries to choose from, it provided an excellent introduction to the mood of the festival. Relax, enjoy and embrace sustainability.
The top wine prize went to the FreshTAP & Vancouver Urban Winery tent featuring wines on tap from various local wineries. The best grapes came out of SouthEnd Farm & Vineyards, a small winery located on Quadra Island, BC. It was a bright red with complex fruity notes and a clean finish. Best served chilled, the wine was a perfect complement to the hot weather.
Stanley Park Brewery, Canada’s first sustainable brewery, took the top beer award. They have entered into an economic sustainability partnership with the park, adopting a portion of the land for protection. A recent release took the top brew award: as a throwback to their founder Frank Foubert, the Belgian wit was perfectly cloudy, with full yet light flavour and a clean finish – a summer beer asking to be enjoyed at any West Coast beach.
Next we perused the exhibitors set up under the marketplace tents. Everyone from Cascades paper products to Fortis BC and the Green Party were showing off their sustainability. There was a multitude of eco-friendly vendors advertising their lavender-infused mini donuts, organic matcha lemonade, bamboo clothing, coconut sandals and dairy-free cheese.
Situated between the marketplace and the beer and wine garden was the Kids Zone featuring a sandbox complete with eco-friendly construction themed toys. A short walk down the hill brought us to Food Truck Alley, with the most interesting option coming out of Beljam’s Waffles. I enjoyed a lightly deep-fried hotdog wrapped in bacon and smothered in mustard, fried onions and sauerkraut, all wrapped in a warm Belgian waffle. The sharp savoury flavours inside complemented the slightly sweet flavour of the waffle making for a perfect handheld meal to enjoy on the grass.
As the sun began to dip behind the Vancouver landscape, people settled on the hill facing the Peak 102.7 Concert Stage. All day local musicians took to the microphone to provide a folky soundtrack to the festival. We caught Kelowna native Lindsay May whose bold voice and silky melodies filled the garden.
EPIC was jam-packed with exhibitors all urging you to buy, eat and live sustainably on the West Coast. However, the festival didn’t feel like a trade show begging for your money or membership. People lounged on the grass, walked around barefoot and enjoyed the warm July sun well into the evening. This year’s EPIC festival set out to move away from the consumer-style expo that they have done in previous years and move towards a festival focused on living sustainably in all aspects of life, and in this it succeeded.