By contributor Kimberly Plumley

Nanaimo’s newest annual festival, Feastival, is a unique celebration of the Island’s culinary culture.

VIU’s Hospitality Program will have a chance to shine when up to 60 students head up the welcoming crew for visitors. “It’s a privilege to work with these dedicated students in our partnership with VIU. After all, hospitality is at the centre of so much of this part of our culture,” says Kim Smythe, Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO.

Feastival will include food trucks, a farmers market, celebrity chefs, family cooking lessons, a trade show profiling growers, producers, processors, distributors, value-added products, appliances, kitchen goods, and culinary accompaniments. A “Sips” section features tastings of Island wines, craft brews, and spirits; and restaurants take on the “Samples” side. One of the most highly anticipated sample items is chowder, and Feastival is proud to host the 2nd Annual Seafood Chowder Contest. The champion will be decided by a panel of celebrity judges and, ultimately, a People’s Choice vote. Four celebrity chefs will choose recipes from their own cookbooks to demonstrate and share with the audience. Don Genova, of CBC fame, will highlight items from his first book, a BC bestseller, Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Cory Parsons, a Nanaimo chef and author who happens to be quadriplegic, will show you how he gets around a kitchen to produce some amazing dishes. Daksha Narsing, spice master and author of numerous Indian inspired cookbooks will spice things up. Hilary Malone of Sea Salt Food Co., one of the trio of family caterers and cookbook authors, will feature dishes most popular with their customers.

Family cooking lessons will be held in three sets during the day—one each for families with children, teens, and seniors hosted by the chefs at Nanaimo FoodShare Society. The focus will be on preparing local, natural, nutritional foods for your family that please the tastebuds and cut the bottom line on your grocery bill.

Nanaimo’s biggest one-day food festival, Feastival is Saturday, September 26 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Look for the admission-free area outdoors on Gordon Street. Admission to the show is $5, or $3 for children under 12, and $15 for families. Food/drink tickets are $2 each and the workshop admission fee is $6 per person. Watch for door prizes, exhibitor prizes, draws, and raffles throughout the day. For more information, visit