A sneak peak inside Cornucopia 2010

Only three more weeks to go before Whistler is wrapped up in the whirlwind of food and wine that is better known as Cornucopia. 'Tis the season to taste wines from around the region - and the world - and blow your diet to smithereens.

This indulgent event has been coordinated by the team at Watermark Productions since 2008, but is actually entering its 14 th year.

Lilli Clark, event producer for Watermark, explained that they wanted to "breathe new life" into the festival when they took over. But, with a track record of producing sports- and music-oriented events like Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, she admits that there was a definite learning curve to planning an event that focused on the wine industry.

"But we loved the challenge," she said. "We loved the event and we thought it was such a great event and we thought we could bring something different to it, and I think that that's why we won the bid.

"That being said, we have brought on experts," she added.

They teamed up with industry professionals to help coordinate wine seminars and parties, and have grown far more comfortable in the process.

And while they wanted to maintain the festival's higher-end programming, they also wanted to include more events that were accessible to people who were just beginning to explore the world of fine wine and food. Contrary to what some people may think, this festival isn't just for industry people and wine aficionados. Sure, you'll probably encounter your fair share of wine snobs sniffing, swirling, sipping and spitting, but this event is where industry folk come to let down their hair.

"It's absolutely open to so many different people: to people who are just learning about wine and food and to people who are experienced in wine and food," Clark emphasized. "We have to be careful that we don't exclude people who are the next generation of Cornucopia attendees."

Clark points out that they've lowered the ticket price on many events, including the Crush galas, and strive to keep the workshops and seminars affordable for everyone.

For the 2010 festival, there are a few changes in store; most significantly, organizers are making an effort to move some seminars out of the conference centre and into the more intimate setting of local restaurants.

"We want people to come and experience Whistler," Clark explained. "We don't want people to be at the conference centre the entire weekend. This is as much about bringing tourism to Whistler as it is about the event itself."


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