10th Wine and Food Festival coming to Alton Mills Art Centre

July 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

For a tenth time, the Alton Mill Arts Centre is inviting the world to enjoy the collaboration of local wineries and restaurants dishing it up at its annual Wine and Food Festival, set for Sunday, July 21.

On the same date, the many artists that are the backbone of the Arts Centre will be bringing their own takes to the theme.

The list of vendors participating is impressive.

Said Mary-Margaret Courtney, whose company, Collective Creations Event Management is organizing and running the festival, “We hustled quite a bit in March, so we have a really good crew of vendors.”

She told the Citizen, “I worked with Mike Beattie who owns Mill Street [Pub]. I worked with him last year. I am event coordinator with Pommies Cider, working on their social media for the past six years. I have my own event planning – this year, I’m running this with my company, but full time I work with Pommies cider. We go to events.”

Her connection to the Alton Mill’s festival? “I did a contract at the Millcroft for a year, just for doing different events. That’s where I met Jeremy and Jordan. Mike put my name forward to them for this year.”

As Ms. Courtney was born and raised in Orangeville, she is aware of the Alton Mill’s antiquity and the work that has gone into restoring it. The dedication to the historical building on the part of brothers Jeremy and Jordan Grant has made a deep impression on her. 

“I really liked that they were saving an old building,” she commented.

Of course, it is so important for the patrons coming to the Wine and Food Festival to enjoy themselves but Ms. Courtney made the additional note, “Our goal was, we really wanted to bring a good experience as well to the vendors, to do something fun with their products, do different things. Some are working to try to do vintage pairings. They have done extensive research with the cheeses. Fromage is bringing a selection of cheeses to pair with other wines.

“Adamo winery is pairing its wines with cooking from The Edge,” she added, “and Pommies Cider is pairing with the Barley Vine Rail (commonly referred to as BVR).”

Newly minted, Windrush Winery is pairing with another restaurant. 

Much of the festival follows the successful layout of last year’s experience, with a few additions. 

We learned about some of that, “The ambience in the tent is to show what it’s like downstairs at the BVR, [a speakeasy style lounge called Revival 1863]. This is open in the evenings, [Thursday through Saturday]. There’s a dress code, casual but nice. It’s a cool ambience, a lounge with beautiful cocktails. I was there on Saturday and it was amazing. I didn’t want to leave. The set-up here is in and outside, similar to last year.”

Altogether, there are 16 vendors, all focussed on wine and food. Mixing it up – doing things out of the box.

Also, “There’s a wedding tent outside; so rain or shine, the festival can go on and everyone enjoy it.”

There will be entertainment, as they say, “We have live music from local musicians, and from Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton. Rhythmfoot are playing, Rag Maple, both local musicians; Ada – she’s from Montreal; Emily Gilbert, Erin Bolton. The way it’s working, is there are four stages and they’re each going to play twice on each one of the four stages. So, there’s a chance for everyone to see everybody.”

The artists throughout the Mill, “they’re all planning different things and, with some of them in textiles and clothing, there will be a fashion show. This was a bit the way Mike did it last year, we’re keeping it very similar and we just added to it.”

Of all the excitement and details, the “hardest is I’m trying to run this whole event as sustainable as possible, with very little printing, reusable straws and plates and cutlery. They come in the bag and it has all the information. This is our way of contributing [to the safety of the environment]. We’re so used to bringing lots of pamphlets and brochures but word of mouth and talking to vendors and social media, this is all working to bring people to the festival. Alton Mill has done such a great job on communicating to others.

“People are calling people personally and getting them to come. It’s a bit the way it was 50 years ago. It’s nice.”

The best part of organizing this particular festival for Ms. Courtney? “It’s fun doing this; what’s in it for me is I grew up in this town and I’ve always been part of the festivals all over the area. Now, I manage events through my company all over Southern Ontario, and now it’s nice to able to come home and do this here. My specialty is in coming on the day and helping make it all happen.”

Come one, come all, she declares, “We’ll have something for everyone. Non-alcoholic drinks are coming; everything this festival could offer is here.”

She said, “People travel to Niagara on the Lake, when they have it here, right in their own backyard.”

For tickets, go to the Alton Mill or call 519-941-9300; online

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