Cornucopia's Masquerave gone again, new sponsor in 

Future festival plans include growth to ten days of food and wine celebrations

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MASKED MYSTERY The Masquerave party was revived in 2011 after a five-year hiatus and now organizers have announced it is going be held every second year.

One of the biggest parties of the year won't happen in 2012 as the organizers of Masquerave have decided to skip a year of hosting it as part of the Cornucopia celebration.

Marc Des Rosier of the Bearfoot Bistro confirmed that Masquerave would now be held every two years and will return to the festival in 2013.

"The magnitude of the production, it takes quite a lot of time to produce an event like we did last year," said Des Rosier.

But while Masquerave is off the schedule for now, Cornucopia organizers are happy to announce that the North Shore Credit Union (NSCU) has signed a deal to become the presenting sponsor of Whistler's annual fall celebration of wine and food for the next three years. And the festival will grow to 10 days next year.

Chris Catliff, president and CEO of the NSCU, said supporting the event is consistent with the financial institution's values.

"Partnering with this highly celebrated festival aligns with NSCU's overall 'wellness strategy,' which we apply to all of our corporate sponsorships," said Catliff.

"Cornucopia promotes financial wellness, engaging local businesses and supporting tourism. It's based on an appreciation of cultural wellness, with the festival's current educational food and wine seminars and tastings, and additional music and arts programming planned for the expanded festival format next year. And it fosters community wellness through the support of a local charity partner selected each year by the festival."

Barrett Fisher, Tourism Whistler's President and CEO, said the NSCU is key to the future success of the festival.

"We are very pleased to welcome NSCU as the presenting sponsor of Cornucopia," Fisher said. "NSCU's commitment to Cornucopia will help ensure the success and growth of this signature event into a 10-day format beginning in 2013."

The Bearfoot Bistro will still be involved in Cornucopia, said Des Rosier, hosting a five course-tasting menu with wines from Tuscany on Nov. 9.

Masquerave was revived last year by the Bearfoot Bistro following a five-year hiatus. After the 2006 party Bearfoot with free flowing drinks, dance music and body painted models bistro owner André St. Jacques decided to curtail the party. The event had evolved into a party that made Cornucopia organizers and liquor control officials nervous.

This year, through a partnership the bistro has with the charity One Drop and Cirque de Soleil, energy is being focused on a fundraising event with Cirque de Soleil in Vancouver on Nov.23.

The fate of another signature event, Casino Royale, is unclear as well. Traditionally hosted by Ric's Grill in the Crystal Lodge, the eatery's website makes no mention of a 2012 event, but information on the 2011 party can still be found on the site. Messages left with Ric's Grill management were not returned by the Pique's print deadline.

Tourism Whistler has confirmed that Casino Royale isn't included in the program but a similar event is being organized with more information expected soon.

The festival this year is set for Nov. 7 to 11. This is the 16th year the resort has hosted Cornucopia. Many of the annual traditions are returning. The House Party is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. and the following night the Crush tasting event will take place at the Whistler Conference Centre. There will be wine maker dinners, wine tasting events, seminars and parties throughout the festival. Forbes Traveler has named Cornucopia one of the Top 10 International Food and Wine Festivals.

The Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) is currently studying the economic impact of Whistler's largest festivals. The CSTA determined that Cornucopia generated $4 million worth of impacts for the province last year and $2.3 million directly for Whistler. CSTA research indicated that 2,521 people bought tickets to Cornucopia events in 2011 and just over 2,000 of those tickets were purchased by visitors to Whistler.


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