Food events/ Meeting celebrity chefs and hosts

[Event] Big Feastival Canada 2017

Type: Arts, Music & Food Festival
Address: Burl’s Creek, Oro Medonte, ON
When I participated: 18-20 August, 2017

A little less than 1 month ago, team Mary’s Happy Belly was invited to attend the first ever The Big Feastival Canada at Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte, a mere 1.5 hour drive from Toronto. This UK festival-season staple is a family-focused weekend of arts, music & food that is the brainchild of megachef Jamie Oliver & draws in tens of thousands of visitors every year. For an event marketed as “a feel good festival of food & music for all ages” it certainly didn’t disappoint!

Like any good Summer festival, camping was a major draw & The Big Feastival outdid others with their facilities and organization. Shortly after arriving at Burl’s Creek we set up camp & proceeded to get to know the grounds & what lay waiting for us through the main entrance.

We were fortunate to have been sent 4 Weekend VIP tickets that granted us entry to the festival, a campsite, access to the VIP Lounge with a private bar (and 1 complimentary drink), as well as premium toilet facilities & covered seating in the dedicated garden area–something we took full use of on day 2 when the sweltering Sunday sun turned temperatures all the way up! Nevertheless it was a welcome break from day 1’s rain & cloudiness.

The VIP lounge


It’s important to note that our group of 4 adults would have paid $1,333 plus services charges for tickets had we not (very generously) received media invites from The Big Feastival’s PR team. Given the ticket prices across the 3 age categories (below), I was curious to gauge the ‘value for money’ attendees would receive. The average family of 2 parents & 2 kids below 12 would pay over $1000 for a comparable weekend package so this clearly isn’t meant to be a budget experience. How much would they spend on top of that for food, drinks, entertainment & souvenirs?

Adult – (18+) $155.00 + $20.15 HST + Service Charges
Teen – (13-17) $85.00 + $11.05 HST + Service Charges
Child – (12 & Under) Free
Adult VIP $255.00 + $33.15 + Service Charges
Adult VIP with Camping $295.00 + $38.35 + Service Charges
Teen VIP $185.00 + $24.05 + Service Charges
Teen VIP with Camping $215.00 + $27.95 + Service Charges
Child VIP $100.00 + $13.00 HST + Service Charges
Child VIP with Camping $130.00 + $16.90 HST + Service Charges





Much of our day was spent sampling food, wine & cocktails from well & little-known purveyors of craft & artisan goods.  I was pleasantly surprised by the number of vendors offering free samples, although unpleasantly surprised by how few vendors were selling full portions of food! The ones that did, expectedly, had long lines but were often worth the wait. That being said, I wonder how many families relied on their own supplies & prepared their own meals to avoid the high, additional costs of the food options present. Thankfully, for the family who came prepared to drop the $$$, there were options aplenty–many of which catered to specific dietary needs & preferences including a large gluten-free section. Outside of the vendors, Big Feastivalers were also treated to face time with some of Canada’s leading chefs, including Mary’s Happy Belly favourites like Chuck Hughes, Rob Gentile, Vikram Vij & Michael Hunter, as well as other renowned local talent like Amy Rosen, Victor Barry, Alexandra Feswick & Matt Dean Pettit. A very special shout out goes to our friend & fellow foodie Julie Miguel who ran the show at the Little Kitchen + Herb Garden. Between demos at the Big Kitchen to cooking lessons & table sessions, the Big Feastival proved to be one of the few events that brought gastronomes & their culinary inspirations together intimately.

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Cheese Cave

A special draw for me personally was the Cheese Cave, the weekend’s home for the Cheese Boutique, Ace Bakery, Adamo Estates Winery, Monteforte Dairy, Speducci Mercatto, Sixty Six Brix & many more fromageries. Needless to say it was busy all weekend-long with the king of Toronto’s cheese scene, Afrim Pristine, holding court and drawing large crowds. On Saturday & Sunday, he invited a contingent of famous friends to crack open an enormous wheel of parmigiano reggiano at Noon in celebration of the love for food that connected everyone there. We were truly blessed to experience something of such beautiful luxury with the perfectly-aged parmesan that was paired with Ontario Strawberries & practically ancient balsamico that Afrim uninhibitedly free-poured for our pleasure!


One of the Big Feastival’s other big draws was the musical lineup. Between world famous acts like Weezer, Ben Harper, De La Soul, Ok Go, The Strumbellas & Magic!, as well as lesser-known performers, there was music for every taste & every age.  The kids had their own entertaining lineup including Fred Penner, Splash ‘n Boots & Paw Patrol.


We found family-friendly activities every where we went at the Big Feastival & there was no shortage of opportunities for kids to be active, learn & play. There were lawn games, face painting, the Farm Park petting zoo, a live sheep-shearing & a taste of Caribana, as well as many carnival rides & circus performers under the Big Top.

Final thoughts

We left the campgrounds wanting to stay longer, and that’s the best sign of a successful event. Although we weren’t there with kids, the gorgeous colours & liveliness at every corner made the Big Feastival an event to remember & definitely one we’d recommend bringing the kids to. For a family looking to save some money, we’d definitely advise forgoing the VIP packages as the additional cost could be better spent on activities & food — especially since regular admission for children under 12 is free! We can’t wait for the Big Feastival 2018! Thank you to the organizers & the team at Faulhaber Communications for inviting the Mary’s Happy Belly team!

Waleed Hafeez

Waleed Hafeez

Waleed is a regular contributor to Mary's Happy Belly and a Toronto-based marketer, designer, blogger, and photographer. He enjoys writing about food and lifestyle here, as well as other topics of interest on his personal blog at
Waleed Hafeez

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