Red Deerians can taste food and drinks from dozens of local restaurants in one location this weekend.
There will be about 170 vendors offering their products at the Alberta Food & Beverage Expo at Exhibition Hall in Westerner Park on Saturday.
“We’re very, very excited. With the current climate and how long we’ve been shut down, this is something we’ve been looking forward to and something all of the restaurants and vendors have been looking forward to as well,” said Chris Meilleur, owner and operator of the expo.
It’s been two and a half years since the expo was held in Red Deer.
“It’s been a long time,” Meilleur said.
“It’s an opportunity to taste and explore the things available here to everybody in Red Deer and find new and exciting products they may not have known about.”
The expo is “completely sold out for vendors,” he noted.
“Lots of restaurants and amazing new local breweries and distilleries from around Alberta are participating this year,” he said.
“The show is designed to offer one- or two-bite samples from different restaurants from around Red Deer and central Alberta. Then we have quite a few breweries and distilleries with very unique offerings, and we have a lot of vendors coming from products that are represented around the world.
“We have a lot of vendors every year at the end of our show tell us it was the best marketing they’ve done all year. It’s an opportunity to be face-to-face with your consumer and have conversations, and for people to meet the owners and staff behind the businesses.”
In past years, attendees would purchase paper tokens, which they would then give to the vendors to get food or drinks. This year the expo is introducing a digital-bracelet system.
“When people come to the show this year, they can load their digital bracelets with tokens,” Meilleur said, adding vendors are provided with the equipment needed to scan the bracelets.
“It’s great because it frees up a hand and it adds some new exciting technology to the show. That’s a new big feature this year. It’s great having this coming out of COVID as well – you’re eliminating that back-and-forth exchange of paper tokens.”
The Red Deer Firefighters Children’s Charity is the charity sponsor for the event.
The Food & Beverage Expo runs from 4-10 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit eatdrinkalberta.com.