The mouthwatering smell of fries, gravy, and cheese curds mingling together into a toasty warm mess of Franco-Canadian inspired deliciousness will soon be wafting out of restaurants in the Upper Columbia Valley with heightened regularity, as Invermere prepares for Poutine Palooza.
Last year was the inaugural edition of this now annual weeklong celebration of poutine – which this year begins on Saturday, October 14th and will culminate with the Palooza party on Saturday, October 21st — and the event has proved such a smash success that this year it’s being moved to bigger digs in order to accommodate more people.
“It (the Palooza) was at the Legion (last year) and it was a sold-out event, so we needed a bigger location this time,” said Invermere events coordinator Cortney Pitts, adding the new spot this year is the recently opened new Columbia Valley Centre.
Ms. Pitts is hoping the Palooza party can attract about 200 hungry residents and visitors this year, although the space is large enough for even more.
“Poutine is one of the ultimate comfort foods, and the event is something different,” said Ms. Pitts, trying to put her finger on its runaway success. “Cheese, fries and gravy. It’s kind of unexplainable, but it speaks for itself, and just to look at it makes your mouth water.”
This year, as last year, people are welcome to visit participating restaurants — which include Rocky River Grill, the Station Pub, From Scratch, Elements (at Copper Point Resort), A&W, the Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery, and the Bears Paw and Grill at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort — throughout the week to try the establishments’ poutines.
“Some will be keeping the normal poutine they have on their menus, and some will be making special poutines just for the event,” said Ms. Pitts.
Diners who order a poutine at any of these restaurants during the week will receive a Poutine Palooza ballot from their servers, and can cast their vote and put it in a ballot box right at the restaurant. At week’s end, these ballots will be tallied up to determine the Diner’s Choice award.
During the actual Palooza party event, each restaurant will set up and serve poutine to Palooza attendees. The attendees will then rank the poutines, and this process will determine the winner of the Peoples’ Choice award.
In addition, a panel of three judges, chosen from among 15 applicants by Ms. Pitts, will render their judgement on the finest poutines, with the winner of this scrutiny earning the Judges’ Choice award.
Ms. Pitts is adding a new category this year, which will tabulate the results of all the other three categories to arrive at an Overall Poutine of the Year award.
The Palooza party begins at 6 p.m. and runs until about 10 p.m. and the local band Otters will be keeping the poutine-munching crowds entertained all night, and Arrowhead Brewing and Taynton Bay Spirits will be on hand to provide drinks.
“Be prepared to have a whole new outlook on life. With the combination of incredibly rad music and of course the best poutine in town, this is sure to be the party of the year,” said Ms. Pitts.
Tickets for the Palooza are $20 each and can be purchased online at www.invermereevents.com.