May 25th, 2018

Food and Beverage Expo continues to grow

By Mabell, Dave on January 12, 2018.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

It all started in Lethbridge.

The Alberta Food and Beverage Expo, launched here in 2013, has grown to encompass four cities this year.

The Lethbridge show, from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Exhibition Pavilion, kicks off the sixth season. Manager Chris Meilleur says the expected 6,000 visitors will see plenty that’s new, from more than 120 exhibitors.

“We have lots of new vendors,” he says, including a cross-section of the newest craft breweries opening across Alberta.

Southern Albertans will recognize many of their favourite restaurants, but Meilleur expects they’ll be offering new tastes – not yet on their menus. In the first years, he says, they came to showcase their most popular selections.

“Now they come to the show to try new products, to see what people like,” Meilleur says.

Alberta-based liquor, wine and beer entrepreneurs also like the opportunity to bring their newest offerings, he says.

“Our Lethbridge guests genuinely enjoy trying new things,” he points out.

That’s also been the response in Medicine Hat and Red Deer, he adds – where the annual shows began more recently. New this year, Meilleur says, will be a show in Grande Prairie.

While about half of the companies signed up for the Lethbridge show are local, he says, some of the others will also be taking in some or all of the following ones.

This Saturday’s guests, Meilleur predicts, will enjoy new features including virtual-reality food experiences – and a putting challenge.

“And Casino Lethbridge will be bringing a fun game.”

As usual, there will also be coupons and giveaways.

“Every year it’s the same, but also different,” he says.

Over the last five years, Meilleur says, the Alberta Food and Beverage Expo has become the province’s biggest event of its kind.

Other groups present two-day shows in Calgary and Edmonton, he says, and they average 7,000 to 8,000 visitors each year.

“This year we expect about 20,000 people,” combining attendance in the four mid-sized cities.

Advance tickets for Saturday’s show are available from Petris Liquor, both Brown’s Social House locations and the Exhibition Park office. They’ll also be sold at the door.

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