Edmonton Heritage Competition Launches Digital Culinary Showcase

Luke Holcombe is used to running. The man in charge of the Edmonton Australian Football Club also runs the pavilion from Down Under at the annual Edmonton Heritage Festival.

“Normally I would be in full swing now, not wasting a second,” says Holcombe.

But this year, COVID-19 means the Edmonton long August weekend issue will be virtual.

Luke Holcombe was usually down at Hawrelak Park, running the Australian pavilion for the annual heritage festival. (Edmonton Heritage Festival)

Starting this morning at 10 a.m., the site will go live. The website is a rich cultural resource with stories, videos, photos, an online marketplace, and recipes featuring food from around the world.

Holcombe helped develop the website along with 40 other cultural groups.

As always, the focus is on the food. Holcombe finds the food he loves most at Edmonton’s South Island Pie Co.

In an interview with Russell Bowers, host of Daybreak Alberta on CBC Radio, he describes the restaurant’s meat pies as “delicious” and “a bit of home”.

“I know one of the first things I get when I get home, the cake, sometimes even at the airport when I land or on the way home from the airport.”

South Island Pie Co. and dozens of other Edmonton restaurants are partnering with the Heritage Festival and will be featured as part of the virtual festival through August.

Good news for Lydia Jimenez, co-owner of Palabok House and long-time organizer of the Philippine Pavilion.

The pandemic has hit the business that Jimenez has built for over 36 years. COVID-19 meant she had to lay off all but five of her 16 employees.

“I don’t have that many people working for me now because we’re not that busy eating, but the food is fine on the weekends so hopefully we can go back to normal,” she says.

The excitement surrounding your company’s profile on the festival website can’t hurt.

The festival volunteers Honora Forster, Stephanie & Betty Cescon, Alyssa Lao-An and Mumbah Mahmood at the 2019 event. (Adrienne Lamm / CBC)

“People are really excited about the opportunity to get local multicultural food straight from the people who own it and get that money into the hands of the people who need it to recover from the COVID pandemic,” says Jim Gibbon, Executive Director of the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association.

“It did such great things for 47 years, you know 350,000 people a year. We did the math, there are about 14 million people who attended this event,” says Gibbon.

While the absence of the event at Hawrelak Park is sad, Gibbon is encouraging festival goers to give the virtual event a try.

Volunteers Sofia Mariona, Hobe Macedo and Nancy Cordero help prepare food in the Guatemala Pavilion 2019. (Adrienne Lamb / CBC)

The website will also have a place to make donations to Edmonton’s Food Bank.

The cultural heritage festival usually collected 50,000 kilograms of food and 100,000 US dollars in cash for the table, says managing director Marjorie Bencz.

Tafel has established two drive-through drop-off points: the North Car Park of the Southgate Shopping Center and Tafel’s warehouse at 11508 120th St.

Each is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors to the Edmonton Heritage Festival can learn more about the Vikings in the Scandinavian Pavilion. (Adrienne Lamm / CBC)

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