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Food festivals and their efforts to foster culture in cities

Thompson Nghiem

Abstract: This research brief is to summarize the Background

findings of the study conducted on food festivals As a driver to educate people on new cultures, and
across 3(three) major cities in Canada: Toronto, spur cultural growth, food festivals can be analyzed
Vancouver, and Montral. As for the food festivals, and likened to Graeme Evans work in Hard-
the objective was to identify how a certain festival Branding the Cultural City From Prado to
would differentiate themselves from their Prada. Evans explains through the way food
competition in terms of: admission costs (or if the festivals brand themselves, can create images
festivals charged any entrance fees), entertainment [which] stamp a collective identity creating new
that supplemented the experience, ethnic themes to spaces of public cultures (Evans, 2003, p. 421).
construct the festival around, and governmental
aid. Upon analysis, Toronto stood out as the city to Food festivals charging admissions can be viewed
be deemed most suitable for housing food festivals as a barrier of entry. However, if food festivals
and culturing its growth. Vancouver came in charged no entry fee, and allowed the pricing to be
second, whilst Montral resulted in the lowest set up by the vendors, and vendors alone,
score. customers feel that they would have a choice to
buy and eat whatever they choose.
Key words: festival, food, Toronto, Vancouver,
Montral Entertainment at food festivals are supplementary;
however, they can be used to enhance or win over
Introduction customer experiences at events. Ezra W.
Food festivals are a prime breeding ground of Zuckermans Candidate-Audience Interface is a
culture, or rather, provide an area for citizens of theory in which a festivals success is reliant on
any given city to experience something they would whether or not it audience can agree with what the
not otherwise have a chance to. Different food hosts have to offer (Zuckerman, 1999, p. 1401).
festivals can bring together those who come from These acts are meant to engage customers long
different cultural backgrounds to be introduced to a enough so they would buy more food, and in turn
culture that before, could have been entirely funnel more money into the festival.
unknown. Because of the influence food festivals
can hold, in the context of the Canadian landscape, Ethnic themed food festivals fill out a small niche
they can absolutely supplement and reify the in the market of food festivals. Nevertheless, they
multicultural identity that Canada holds as a nation. are what Carroll and Swaminathan calls specialists
The aforementioned cities were selected upon in a generalist market. Though thought out to be
determining them as cultural hubs of Canada, stretched thin, the specialists are less likely to be
representative of the Canadian national identity. invaded by the ever-encroaching generalists
This brief will present the findings of a quantitative (Carroll & Swaminathan, 2000, p. 720). The lack
study on which subject city is better suited to host of resources can be used to their advantage as it
food festivals, and allow them to prosper for long- can offer them a unique platform to brand
term growth and exposure. themselves.

Culture, Creativity, and Cities Capstone Course | Dept. of Sociology | University of Toronto Scarborough
1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4 Canada
Food festivals have to rely on sponsorships, but in Supplementary entertainment was operationalized
certain instances, governmental aid. The municipal to be desirable in a food festival, as to enrich the
government can play a hand to aid in marketing to overall experience. Toronto once again earned 3
groups that would not have been aware of the points, with 74% of its festivals having
festival otherwise. Certain cities can have better entertainment of sorts, Vancouver 2 points with
infrastructures in place and use its connections to 71%, and Montral earning 1 point once again,
the broader network and leverage itself into being a with 60%.
tourist attraction (Driscoll, 2016, p.16).
Ethnic themed food festivals were classified to be
Methods the favoured trait, as it adds to the cultural diversity
All food festivals that were included in the study that is representative of the Canadian identity.
were from the downtown core of each respective Vancouver came in at 29%, earning 3 points.
city. However, the outliers, which resided just Toronto earned 2 points, at a very close 24%, and
outside of city boarders were classified as Montral earn 1 point with a low 10%
attractions by an aggregate of tourist websites to
attract potential festival goers. This aggregate Finally, government aid was the favoured trait as
resulted in 34 food festivals in Toronto, 14 in help from the government, at any level, enables a
Vancouver, and 10 in Montral. Coding was sense of validation from the government and a
completed on the aforementioned categories: seal of approval for the city. Toronto came in
Admissions, Entertainment, Ethnic Themes, and first, with 29% of its festivals being backed by the
Governmental Aid. government, Vancouver with 14%, and Montral
fell short once again with no backing whatsoever
Findings except from its sponsors.
To be able to quantify and come to a definite
conclusion on which city among the three that were Out of a total 12 points to earn across 4 categories
studied to be the best city to culture food festivals, and a maximum of 3 points to earn, Toronto came
a point system was devised. Whichever city had the in first with 11 points only failing to earn 3 points
highest percentage of any given trait, they were in the category of ethnic themed food festivals.
given 3 points, 2 points to the next city, and 1 point Vancouver came in second earning 9, whilst
for the remaining city. This was done across all 4 Montral earned the lowest possible score of 4.
categories of study.
Conclusion and Recommendation
For admissions, the desirable trait was deemed to Thus, through the study and criteria set out, it can
be festivals not charging an entrance fee. Toronto be stated that Toronto is the most desirable city to
had 56% of its festivals not charge a fee, earning 3 host food festivals compared to Vancouver and
points; Vancouver had 43%, earning 2; Montral Montral. Torontos infrastructure is in place to
had only 20% of its festivals open to the public, foster the growth of food festivals and cultural
earning just 1 point. togetherness. By not charging admissions at the
door, providing supplementary entertainment to
enrich the festival experience, having
governmental backing to increase its reach, and

Culture, Creativity, and Cities Capstone Course | Dept. of Sociology | University of Toronto Scarborough
1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4 Canada
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parameter can be set in place to yield more
controlled results. For example, to keep the
research across cities consistent, focusing
specifically towards the downtown core would be

Culture, Creativity, and Cities Capstone Course | Dept. of Sociology | University of Toronto Scarborough
1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4 Canada