Metro Ontario Celebrating Local Agriculture

Hylander Farms, Essex. (Photo courtesy Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island)

The food and music of southwestern Ontario will be the focus of an event this week.

Metro Ontario is teaming up with a local chef and musicians to create an Essex County-centric culinary and concert celebration for Canada’s 150th birthday, to be held Friday night at Hylander Farms in Essex.

Windsor-Essex was selected as one of seven regions across Ontario to host a celebration, each with a specific theme commemorating the rich history of the province and the nation.

Jocelyne Martineau, manager of communications for the grocery chain, says the idea had been in the works for over a year and the goal was to create an event highlighting Windsor-Essex’s agricultural influence.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to celebrate Canada’s agriculture and the local food that Ontario produces,” says Martineau.

The party is expected to encompass much of the Hylander Farms property, with the music being played in the midst of a cornfield.

Martineau says the celebration will be family-friendly and have something for everyone.

“They can expect to eat some delicious local-inspired food designed by our homegrown chef Mike Ward,” says Martineau. “We’re going to have a local talent singing some Canadian favourites.”

Windsor-Essex folk singer-songwriter Brendan Scott Friel is expected to cover Canadian hits over the course of the evening, and a surprise appearance by a Juno Award-nominated artist is also set to take place.

As far as Chef Ward’s menu goes, Martineau says the local flavours will be well-represented.

“There’s going to be things like summer salads, watermelon, local corn, locally-grown peaches and cream, corn-encrusted tempura perch,” says Martineau. “So there’s a lot of fabulous menu items. Mike likes to use a lot of local inspiration when he’s developing the menus.”

Metro Ontario is in the midst of a $19-million investment into Windsor-Essex, says Martineau. The Quebec-based grocer is completing a new store at Windsor’s Devonshire Mall, set to open in late summer or early fall. Some local Metro locations are also being renovated.

The Windsor-Essex event is the sixth in Metro’s Canada 150 homegrown tour. Previous stops have been in Oakville, London, Toronto and Guelph.

The celebration kicks off Friday at 8pm at Hylander Farms, located at County Rd 8 off Manning Rd in Essex. To book free tickets to the event, click here.