Cornucopia: an arts lover's guide 

It's not just food and drink at Whistler's festival of the good life

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Party time Comedian Dino Archie is headlining Comedy Kitchen at Buffalo Bills, one of the more arty events at Cornucopia 2016.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • Party time Comedian Dino Archie is headlining Comedy Kitchen at Buffalo Bills, one of the more arty events at Cornucopia 2016.

Whistler's food celebration Cornucopia has been around for 20 years, and they've decided to send in the clowns... and the artists.

While the resort's restaurants join public venues such as the Whistler Conference Centre in presenting workshops, tastings, dinners and more — Comedy Kitchen brings laughs to the table on the festival's second day.

Stand-up host Kelly Dyer, along with Kevin Banner and Dino Archie, will tempt the boundaries of taste, performing at a festival where most often the food and drink is the performer.

"This is our second year doing it," Dyer says.

"Last year was really good. It was received well and almost sold out."

Katie Allan and Ivan Decker were last year's talent, and Dyer said they aimed to make it fresh with the addition of Banner and Archie.

Winner of Bite TV's Stand Up & Bite Me competition in 2011, Kevin Banner is considered a rising talent in Canadian comedy, performing alongside Doug Stanhope, Bill Burr and Norm Macdonald.

A regular at The Comedy Mix, who has also appeared at The Northwest Comedy Fest, Just For Laughs Northwest and Bumbershoot, Banner's self-professed "dark" sense of humour tackles tough topics while his storytelling goes after the laughs.

A Vancouver-based transplanted American and winner of the 36th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition, Archie has previously been seen on Adam Devine's House Party on Comedy Central, and appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in July.

And Dyer — from Squamish — is a well-known performer in Whistler, he featured at last year's Northwest Comedy Festival.

Comedy Kitchen takes place at Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 9 p.m.

"I'll do 15 minutes, warm the crowd up and talk with them," Dyer says.

"There will also be an added bonus, Nadia Peterson, who came second at the Comedy Showdown at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, will also be on stage. Kevin comes on after that, then me again to prime the crowd for the headliner, and Dino will be on for 45 minutes."

And in full Cornucopia tradition, the crowd can expect to be well fed and watered.

"It's a chance to offer something other than people sitting around and talking about food, an opportunity to take in something different," Dyer says.

"I've got a bunch of jokes on wine so I throw those in there."

And for those wanting to get their hands dirty, the Crystal Lodge Art Gallery has dived into the Cornucopia experience with eight events that combine drink, eats, and making art.

"The whole festival is just such a really great homegrown event. The organizers do a phenomenal job," says the gallery's manager Penny Eder.

"Last time I did this two years ago, all the events were sold out. It was a really popular opportunity to make art and it just goes so well with Cornucopia."

The gallery's events include Wine About Art with the Black Cloud Winery on three nights (Saturday, Nov. 12 and Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.), Picasso Portrait Party Disco (Saturday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m.), Beer and Brushes (Thursday, Nov. 17 and Friday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m.), and Martinis and Mud (Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 20 at noon).

"People get into the art part of it because it is a little different. It's fun because everyone is drinking and wanting to eat, and then they need something a little bit extra to do. It's a creative night, not formal... they meet all sorts of people and can go with friends," Eder says.

"This year, we have Black Cloud sponsoring, which is such a wonderful wine."

Tickets are $75 and include the cost of paints, canvas, clay and other supplies, depending on the event.

And for those with deeper pockets and looking for a very special night out, the Audain Art Museum is hosting Artistic Expression, with co-founders Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa.

A signature event at Cornucopia on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m., Artistic Expression features the best of B.C.'s visual and culinary arts, with the evening's repast designed by The Collective Kitchen.

There is a reception, three-course dinner with wine pairing by Fort Berens Estate Winery — all in the museum. The evening concludes with a private tour of the museum.

Tickets range from $500 to $1,000 and proceeds raised will go to educational programming.

Cornucopia runs from Nov. 9 to 20. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.whistlercornucopia.com.

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