Joni Toews loves tacos.
So much so, that when the longtime Whistler resident attended Taco Fest Toronto—a massive food truck festival produced by a few of his university friends, through their company Cravings Food Co. in collaboration with Taste Toronto—he couldn't understand why Whistler wasn't already home to a similar event.
Now, two years after Toews first began putting wheels in motion to bring a scaled-down version to Whistler (with those friends' blessings, of course), his vision is finally becoming a reality.
Despite a series of hurdles, the first-ever Whistler Taco Fest will bring a taste of Mexico to the Sea to Sky—more specifically, the Whistler Golf Club—on Monday, June 3.
"It definitely wasn't easy to orchestrate," said Toews, best known around town as one half of the local DJ duo Case of the Mondays. "It was really hard to find a venue."
Toews decided to reach out to the Whistler Golf Club, "a perfect venue" for Taco Fest, after previously hosting a Case of the Mondays event at the course.
"That kind of opened the window," he explained. "I'm really stoked that Ro Davies from the Whistler Golf Club was happy to have us."
Unlike the last event, next month's Taco Fest is more likely to include lawn games and acoustic covers than fist pumping.
"This is going to be more all-demographics fun. It doesn't matter whether you're 19 or 50 or whatever, as long as you like tacos and margaritas and beer, then it's probably the right scene for you."
The event will feature three taco vendors from throughout the South Coast: Vera's Taco Shack from Vancouver and Flaca's Tacos, a Squamish-based food truck, while the Whistler Golf Club's eatery will design a one-day-one pop-up shop, dubbed Palmer's Taqueria.
While menus are still being finalized, vendors are being encouraged to branch out from their usual offerings in favour of new special creations, specifically for Taco Fest. Those will run the gamut from the more traditional end of the spectrum—think chicken, steak or crispy cod—to more out-of-the-box innovations.
For instance, one rumour Toews heard from a vendor includes talk of a—get ready for it—jalapeno battered shrimp taco.
"Everyone's going to put their own little twist one it," he said.
Tacos will range in price from $4 to $8. "We want to keep prices low so people can try as many tacos as possible," Toews explained.
Hornitos Tequila will be on hand to fuel a margarita bar and Whistler Brewing will bring a selection of summer beers, each available for $5, while other basic spirits will also be available for purchase.
The event also offers Toews the opportunity to see another longtime dream realized: a condiment bar, but rather than ketchup and mustard, a variety of hot sauces. "I'm a massive hot sauce fan. I'll drink it at lunch, just because I enjoy it that much," he said with a laugh.
A tiered ticketing system functions to keep crowds and lines low and service speeds high. Tickets will provide their holders entry between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Toews has allocated 200 tickets per tier, around 20 of which will be set aside for purchase at the door.
Once attendees have entered, they're welcome to stay for however long they'd like—until last call, currently set for 8:45 p.m., that is.
"Now the tickets are moving, the event's up, the stoke level's there and now it's just going to be fine-tuning the décor and decorations and working with local artists or whoever I can find to help make the event look really cool," Toews said. "It's 100 per cent going to become an annual thing."
If you're a local artist or musician interested in getting involved, Toews can be reached through the Taco Fest Whistler Facebook page.
This event will be 19+, with valid I.D. required for entry. Entry tickets range from $5 to $8 and are available at www.ticketlabs.com/event/15668/?fbclid=IwAR0WBLnovzJ4Gb5Z1Mtk-0CNjdMxwEzTU0F6WHIAcD4xVBWHtvDdM5OTe0Y. As of press time, 50 per cent of tickets were sold out.