by Michael MacKinnon
When hordes of music and art lovers descend upon Atlin, B.C. for the Atlin Arts and Music Festival the recipes include a few key ingredients: Good music, creative art, and delicious food.
The festival has a wide range of food options for patrons. Ranging from traditional Indian food to classic poutine and hotdogs.
With a population fluctuating around 250-300 during the year, food vendors feed the hungry months the restaurants wouldn’t be able to support.
“On Friday, we went through 500 pounds of potatoes and I’ve 1200 pounds for the festival,” said owner of All Aboard The Gravy Train Ron Davis. The Gravy Train sells food for all ages. There’s french fries, chili cheese dogs – all the heavy foods every festival needs.
Davis works alongside his wife Kristin and his mother-in-law Pat. A true family affair.
This year marks Davis’ fourth time with The Gravy Train at Atlin.
“Here at Atlin they’ve done a great job making it a family friendly, multi-generational event,” said Davis.
This year Davis added Greek fries and a barbecue chicken poutine. Cooked chicken pulled, simmered in barbecue sauce dressed with crispy onions. Orders for the chicken poutine were flying out the window as soon as Davis put the dish on the menu. By Sunday afternoon, there were only a few orders left.
Davis fried and sold 1100 pounds of French fries – expecting to sell out by the festivals closing.
“All my hotdogs about 20 dozen – gone, “said Davis.
Davis had to buy extra hotdogs during the festival. The grocery stores in Atlin can’t supply him with 200 pounds of potatoes – but six dozen hotdogs are no problem. For Davis, it’s important for vendors to support local business. Making sure money stays within the community.
The festival had a diverse selection of foods beyond classic poutine and hotdogs.
Vicky Dhillon is the owner of Daat Indian Cuisine. Normally operating in Whitehorse YK, this year is Dhillon’s first time at the festival.
“The other vendors told me I should come here and it would be fun. And it is fun,” said Dhillon.
The family atmosphere of festival was one of the selling points for Dhillon to attend.
“It’s nice because it’s a safe environment,” said Dhillon.
Selling simple but delicious Indian food Dhillon served a chickpea, lentils, rice, and butter chicken dish. As well as samosas, pakoras, naan, and East Indian Chai tea.
Working alongside Dhillon during the festival were her family and friends.
“I like going on adventures. This is an adventure for me,” said Dhillon.
The rainy weather didn’t stop patrons from eating Dhillon’s fresh and flavour dishes. By Sunday afternoon, all of the samosas were sold and eaten.
Barbecued pork kebabs, chicken, and vegetable pancit is Kit Salas speciality. Owner of Kit’s Kitchen, Salas serves delicious Pilipino comfort food.
This is the second-year Kit’s Kitchen is working at the music festival. Last year their stand was located outside the main festival grounds along the street. This is their first time inside the gates.
“There was one lady who came by and said our food is awesome awesome awesome. She said it ten times. So I’m happy to hear people are enjoying my food,” said Kit.
“My goal is to satisfy the customer and fill their tummy – it’s not all about profit,” said Kit. “It’s about passion, dedication, and satisfying people with food.”
Kit’s husband Arnold, is very helpful during work. Kit also has her close friends Norris Kempis, Merlipa Kempis, and Nyrma Cuenza, working at the food stand during the festival.
“They’re all helping me out. Without them I couldn’t be able do this all by myself,” said Kit.
A hard rain during Sunday morning and early afternoon posed a difficulty for Kit and her team. Friday and Saturday were busier days compared to Sunday.
Despite the differences in dishes between the food vendors, their similarities come together in their staff, which are mostly family and friends. This weekend saw sunshine and showers. The dramatic change in weather coupled with the long hours didn’t dampen the spirit of each vendor.