The 2020 Tofino Food and Wine Festival has been cancelled. (Photo - Tofino Food and Wine Festival Facebook)

The 2020 Tofino Food and Wine Festival has been cancelled. (Photo - Tofino Food and Wine Festival Facebook)

Organizers cancel Tofino Food and Wine Festival, slam LCRB

The festival celebrated its 17th annual appearance at the Tofino Botanical Gardens on April 1, 2019.

Organizers of the West Coast’s popular Tofino Food and Wine Festival recently announced the event will not be held next year due to a fractured relationship with B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

“To the many patrons, artists, musicians, winemakers, chefs, suppliers, organizers, sponsors and volunteers who have been our partners these many years, we extend our deepest and heartfelt thanks and regrets,” read a statement posted to the event’s website announcing the cancellation of 2020’s scheduled event.

The festival celebrated its 17th annual appearance at the Tofino Botanical Gardens in June of 2019.

“These events have all been happy, convivial afternoons of celebrating our great BC wineries, craft brewers, distillers and the culinary excellence of BC’s restaurant industry,” the statement reads. “If any single event defined Tofino’s emergence as a culinary destination, it was this one.”

Through the statement, organizers blamed “a terribly ruptured relationship with the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch” for the cancellation.

“For the past 16 years, our experience in working with the British Columbia LCRB has been positive; constructive, helpful and supportive. We have felt like a client or partner,” the statement reads. “In 2019, our 17th year producing this well loved event, our experience was the opposite; obstructive, hostile, intimidating and rude. We felt like an opponent.”

It suggests organizers navigated through the LCRB’s requirements and received a permit for 2019’s event just two weeks prior, leading to “a great deal of anxiety, stress and pressure for the producers and directors.”

It says 2019’s event was a success, but organizers are not confident they will receive a permit for 2020 and are “not willing to risk the chance of disappointment, unwanted and unwarranted stress for our team members, our guests and our partners.”

Municipal councillor Andrea McQuade co-owns the restaurant Kuma Tofino, a participating contributor of the festival, and told the Westerly News the cancellation was unexpected and unfortunate.

“I think it came as a surprise and probably a shock to the whole community. I think all of us look forward to Food and Wine every year and a large number of visitors look forward to Food and Wine every year.”

She said she could not comment on what transpired between the event’s organizers and the LCRB, but suggested 2019’s event was well organized.

“I’ve personally always found Food and Wine to be a great event as both a participant and as a regular ticket holder,” she said. “I always find it to be well organized and it’s just such a fun community event.”

She suggested there’s little the town’s council can do to assist the festival’s relationship with the LCRB and that the issue “goes beyond the municipality’s scope.”

“These are rules and regulations that are put in by the province and that are administered by a provincial, not municipal, body,” she said. “We can support our local festivals in attending them and encouraging our residents to attend them but, when it comes to whatever transpires between a licence holder and the actual regulating board, I think that’s something that goes beyond what council can influence.”

She added that she hopes to see the festival return in 2021 and touted the event as a “linchpin” of the local culinary scene.

“It brings together an incredible number of creative people, of wine makers, of breweries, of restaurants, at a time when we don’t get to see each other, in the middle of the summer. To have everyone come to Tofino, a relatively small place, it gives us a boost in morale, it gives us a boost in tourism and it gives locals and tourists alike a really great time. So, while I am definitely saddened to hear that it won’t be happening next year, I have little to no doubt that either something great will take its place for a year, or it will come back stronger and better than ever in 2021.”

The Westerly News has reached out to the LCRB for comment and will update this story as new information comes in.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Tofino Lantern Festival an illuminating experience

READ MORE: Farm and Garden Show coming to Tofino

READ MORE: A garden of earthly delights in Tofino

Just Posted

Police are investigating after a man was killed at a home on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police investigating early-morning murder in Duncan

One arrested after man killed at Cowichan Lake Road home

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home in Cedar destroyed by fire

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong winds Sunday

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in fatal Chemainus hit-and-run

Investigation expected to be lengthy and involved

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Public to avoid the wooded areas around Queneesh Elementary

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre has reopened with 45 shelter spots for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria. (Courtesy of Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre)
Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre shelter in Victoria reopens with spots for 45 people

Arena is an interim step until long-term housing is found

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. (tofinohiking.com photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Most Read