They came by two-wheeler, tandem and trailer. They savoured potato-cheese scones, sipped local wine and supped on a working organic farm. But most importantly they had fun.
More than 400 people, many with interpretative maps in hand, participated in Pembertons first Slow Food Cycle Sunday, an event developed by Lisa Richardson and Anna Helmer.
The success of the Aug. 21 event that saw people traveling up to 50 km return trip to visit 12 farms and numerous food stands along the way, has Richardson already putting the planning into motion for next years event.
"We want to capitalize on the momentum," laughed Richardson. "We want to debrief, figure out what we can do better next year. Theres such a good energy about the event right now. A lot of people have said, Count me in, lets meet over the winter and start working towards it."
The enthusiasm for next years event seems proportional to the creative undertakings of this years participants.
For example Bruce and Brenda Millers farm, home of Across the Creek Organics, featured chefs from Whistler including Mervin McLeod from Westins acclaimed Aubergine Grill and the legendary Chef Bernard. A tasting bar set up by Pemberton Valley Winery rounded out the palate-pleasing offerings. Next door at Helmers Farm, more than 150 people enjoyed a buffet featuring organic, local ingredients created by SeEd Artisan Foods while listening to live piano music. Along the route, everything from freshly brewed strong coffee to the tuber that made the valley famous was available for sale or by donation.
More than 30 volunteers helped out with registration and preparations including painting signs and marking the routes kilometres off with encouraging slogans written on the pavement with chalk.
Organizers had felt this first year would focus on local participation, but registration information revealed another story. Thirty-two per cent were from the Pemberton area, 36 per cent from the Lower Mainland, and 18.5 per cent resided in Whistler. However, what really surprised Richardson was the fact there were riders from as far away as Chicago, Germany, the UK and Maui having come across the event while vacationing in Whistler.
"This family from Chicago, their kids were eight and 11, they went the whole route and then rode another 2 km to the Los farm. They had their hands all over everything. They learned about eggs and chickens, honey and zucchinis the works!," said Richardson.
The 170 folks, aged one to 80, who traveled the entire route were eligible to enter the End-of-the-Road Draw. Ken and Shirley Nickerson, as oldest riders, won a basket of organic goods from Solstice Organics and a book on organic gardening from Charisma Emporium. At eight years old, Chicagos Lindsay Schwartz took home a gift basket from Small Potatoes Bazaar as youngest self-propelled rider. Richard Olsen eschewed the theme of "slow" to become the first rider to reach the end of the road, taking home a hoodie from the Pemberton Bike Co. for his efforts.