Business or pleasure?
The question didn’t apply when the third annual Cork & Keg festival was held at the Cascades Casino and Convention Centre in Langley City on Friday.
Because there was more than enough time for both.
Beginning in the afternoon with a trade fair, Fraser Valley business people in the food and drink industry were invited to drop by and talk shop for a few hours — and perhaps take in a seminar or two — before the lights dimmed, the band struck up and 550 people began pouring into the convention centre’s upstairs lobby and ballroom.
Armed with plates and glasses, the sell-out crowd was set loose to try some of the best food and drink the Fraser Valley has to offer.
From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., 49 vendors plied visitors with wine, beer and a range other spirits — from bourbon punch to scotch to limoncello — pairing the drinks with everything from freshly shucked oysters to pulled pork sliders and bruschetta.
Not only delicious and educational, the event serves as a charity fundraiser each year.
The charitable partner for 2013 is the Langley Farmer’s Market — selected because it represents local producers and the community, explained event promoter Kristine Carrick.
“While the final donation from the event proceeds hasn’t been calculated, the hope is to help fund new tents for the farmers market,” she said.
The wine, beer, spirit, and food offerings change from year to year, based on what is new in the industry, but event organizers are hoping to add a few more to the vendor line-up for the 2014 as well as continue to build on the trade portion of the event.
That saw a 40 percent increase in attendance over last year from members of the hospitality industry.
The consumer event was also a success with a full-house that marked a 27 percent increase in the number of attendees. There were only five tickets left on the morning of the festival and all were gone by the time the doors opened at 7 p.m.
Next year’s Cork & Keg has already been booked.
It will happen on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014.