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Summer is the season of al fresco foods - chunks of watermelon, fresh-from-the-fields strawberries, and grilled goodies of all kinds. But there are a few events happening during the upcoming weeks that should easily tempt local foodies away from the lake and barbecue.

Outstanding in the Field - Saturday, July 18

Araxi's Executive Chef James Walt is teaming up with the folks from Outstanding in the Field, a group of "culinary vagabonds" from California to create a unique dining experience in the fields of North Arm Farms. Walt plans to dish up a delicious, five-course meal for a group of up to 130 food and wine lovers, using the freshest of available ingredients from the local fields and food producers. Tickets are $200, but this one-of-a-kind dining experience should be well worth the price of admission. For more information or to make reservations, visit www.outstandinginthefield.com.

BBQ Championships - Friday, July 31 to Sunday, Aug. 2

Here's every carnivore's chance to see what it takes to be a real king of the grill. Dusty's in Creekside is again playing host to the annual Canadian National BBQ Championships, which is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest competitive BBQ circuit. A qualifying event for the American Royal World Championships in Kansas City and the Jack Daniel's World Championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee, expect some serious competition thrown into the mix of amazing eats and live music. Friday features BBQ demos; on Saturday, locals can get in on the action, competing in the Budweiser King of the Grill, 8th Annual Backyard Burger Championship, or the CASI-sanctioned Chili Competition. Finally, the main event happens on Sunday, with samples of pork butt, beef brisket, chicken, pork and ribs from the pros for those who purchase a tasting pass.

A Taste of B.C. - Sunday, Aug. 2

Whistler Blackcomb has upped their culinary ante with their Taste of B.C. summer gala that features a selection of fresh food from across the province paired with breathtaking alpine views. And while this event is hosted in the Roundhouse, definitely don't expect to be served chili and fries. Last year, the menu featured lamb, venison, mussels, oysters, Black cod, smoked salmon and locally-grown veggies. I wonder what treats they have in store for this year? If you already have a lift ticket, the price is just $59 for adults, $44 for youth, or $22 for kids. Prices with a lift ticket are $84, $64 and $30, respectively. Visit Whistler Blackcomb's online events calendar for more information.

Slow Food Cycle - Sunday, Aug. 16

Grab your bike, helmet and a reusable shopping bag, and head up to Pemberton to take part in the fifth annual Slow Food Cycle Sunday, the free community bike ride along Pemberton Meadows Road. Last year, the event attracted a whopping 2,300 riders, all eager to learn more about local food production. Anna Helmer, one of the organizers, said this year there could be up to 5,000 participants, though they're only preparing for 3,000. There has also been a strong response from local producers this year; North Arm Farm, Across the Creek Organics, Helmer's Organic Farms, which is hosting executive chef Rob Clark from C Restaurant in Vancouver, Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef, Riverlands Organic Farms, and Marty and Andrea Vanloon are among those welcoming guests onto their properties.

It's a family-friendly, cruisey ride - not too challenging for kids - and it will go ahead rain or shine, so riders should come prepared with water, snacks, proper footwear and helmets. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the old community centre, but you can start later in the day, as well.

Feast in the Mountains (formerly known as Feast of Fields) - Saturday, Aug. 29

Feast of Fields is undergoing a slight transformation this summer, morphing into Feast in the Mountains under the direction of the people at Watermark Communications and Astrid's Fine Foods.

Rest assured, the same esteemed members of the culinary community are on-board to participate in the beloved food fest, offering up a range of delicious dishes featuring all kinds of local ingredients. Araxi, Bearfoot Bistro, North Arm Farms, and Elements are just a few of the local businesses that were on-hand at last year's event, offering up eats and info. This event is a great opportunity to see what local kitchens and food producers have to offer. And while enjoying a glass of wine, participants can also drink in the beauty of their natural surroundings from Ross Rebagliati Park.

Early bird tickets are just $50. Get yours at www.feastinthemountains.com .


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