In what’s become an annual Summer family tradition I joined my sister and nieces to take in the sights, sounds, smells and flavors of Western Canada’s largest food festival, Taste of Edmonton.

With dishes from 60 locally owned restaurants and food trucks and nightly entertainment at one of Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series, the festival is in its 34th year but in a new location at Capital Plaza on the Alberta Legislature grounds as it and The Works Art & Design Festival were evicted from their traditional venue on Churchill due to Light Rail Transit (LRT) construction.  The temporary move came with loads of logistical and regulatory adjustments including the removal of a prohibition against alcohol being sold on legislature grounds for the first time in  the province’s history.

Many of the beers on tap are Alberta brewed including local favorites from Alley Kat and Yellowhead Breweries.

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Event tickets are bought either with cash or credit/debit card at one of the ticket booths at entrance points into Capital Plaza and are $9 for 5 tickers, $17 for 10, $34 for 20 and $67 for 40. There is a Taste Menu here which lists each vendors specialties and amount of tickets required so it helps to scan the menu for not only items of interest but to figure out a rough cost. Given that many of the food items cost 4 tickets that’s around $7 for a small plate portion so sampling a few dishes and desserts saw this hungry visitor use up 20 tickets quite easily during a leisurely two-hour amble.

A new food favorite came from LOFT Thai Eatery whose marinated grilled chicken with LOFT peanut sauce was low on the spice meter but high on taste.

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My all-time top pick is Japanese Village’s sirloin beef on rice with sesame sauce and it didn’t disappoint again this year. The green onion cakes from Hong Kong Bakery are filling and one of the better values at only 3 tickets but beware their chili sauce which has a definite kick to it.

For desserts, the Sicilian Canolli from Italian Bakery Edmonton brought back many warm memories of diving into the delicacy in Italian enclaves in The Bronx, New York City.

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The Bix Mix Boys, billed as one of Canada’s hottest bluegrass bands, belted out the tunes during our visit but come evening headliners such as 80’s Canadian music icons Men Without Hats take to the stage.

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The weather cooperated for our visit with a sunny if not hot day but we exited just ahead of an afternoon  thundershower that darkened the skies. We’ll definitely be back for the 2019 version of the tasty festival but may arrive a little less hungry and buy fewer coupons as it’s not the culinary bargain it once was.

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From July 18-29, 2018 some 350,000 festival-goers are expected to attend Taste of Edmonton during its 12-day run.