The St. Catharines Downtown Association has been running the Downtown D’lish food festival for several years now, and has run festivals in both the summer and winter. The festival continued this August with 2015’s Summer Downtown D’lish.
The festival involved over fifteen local businesses, all of whom offered special menus, options and pricing specific to the event. These offerings included three-course meals for both lunch and dinner, at fixed prices ranging 15 to 40 dollars. Many locations offered menu items they don’t normally sell, or special variations on their usual offerings.
Unlike many food festivals, which run for a weekend or a few days and involve mobile vendors, Downtown D’lish runs for over a full week (this year’s summer event ran from August 14-29), and takes place across local restaurants. This approach allows more flexibility for attendees, and also gives business owners a chance to show off their establishments to prospective customers. The structure also allows businesses to operate at full capacity, offering food and service to the best of their ability during the festival.
Downtown D’lish is important to the St. Catharines community because it provides downtown businesses with an opportunity to work together in order to increase visibility, attendance and interest in the downtown core of the city. Because of the affordable set prices for full meals, people are able to try out new businesses that they may not have heard of or thought of trying before. The special menus also allow diners to explore new places, and for businesses to reach out to new customers. Ultimately, events like Downtown D’lish really put the spotlight on local businesses.
The creation of 3-course special menus also allows businesses to explore new ideas and innovative food options. Businesses have the opportunity to try out new selections or offerings for the festival and receive feedback on these new ideas.
The festival is run by the city’s Downtown Association. The association is a non-profit organization run by a board of volunteers, with the aim of improving the culture, growth, business and economic development of St. Catharines’ downtown core.
The mandate of the association is “to participate in programs aimed at the physical improvement and beautification of the core, as well as the promotion of the Downtown as a great place in which to live, meet, shop, work and play.”
Downtown D’Lish is one of the most prominent and successful reoccurring events run by the Downtown Association, and one that many locals look forward to every festival season. This year’s ran successfully, providing local businesses and residents with the opportunity to find each other.
Other nearby areas have also been exploring food festivals as a way to drum up downtown business and culture. Niagara Falls has been running their Springlicious festival for several years, and Welland has run the successful Niagara Food Festival. Food festivals have proved a popular way for local downtown businesses throughout the greater Niagara Region to improve business and provide a fun cultural opportunity for residents.
Anyone interested in food festivals who missed this event can also check out the upcoming Savour Niagara festival on Thursday September 24 in Niagara-on-the-Lake. For more details, visit greaterniagarachamber.com.