Five tips on navigating the Heritage Day food booths

One of the things I look forward to the most about Heritage Day (aside from having the day off from work) is attending the festivities in the South Pavilion at Exhibition Park and sampling the different ethnic foods available from the vendors. It’s great how you can sample various delicacies from all over the world in just one place!

But obtaining your delicious bounty can be quite tricky for the first-time attendee when trying to navigate the crowds and various food lines. Luckily, I have some tips you can use to score the best food the vendors have to offer, and I’m going to let you in on a few of them so you can get the most out of your food fair experience.

1. Know What Food is Available — The Southern Alberta Ethnic Association’s website ( has posted a list of the groups who will be selling food at this year’s festivities. View this list ahead of time and decide which booths you are interested in purchasing from, and which ones to skip.

2. Bring Cash — Even though many of us are use to paying by debit or credit card, most (if not all) of the food vendors you visit will only take cash. So make sure you stop by a bank or ATM and obtain smaller bills, not just twenties. Other people might also bring twenties, and this forces vendors to run out of change quickly.

3. Arrive Early — The doors to the pavilion will open at 11 a.m, but you will need to be there by at least 10 a.m. to get a spot as close to the front of the line as possible. If you can, go as a group and divide into two teams, each team with a cell phone. Have one team stand in line and one sit in your vehicle. Rotate in shifts to ensure everyone gets a chance to sit during the hour-long wait.

4. Plan your Attack — If you’ve been to the ethnic food fair before, you will know that the Polish table sells out of cabbage rolls and pirogi quite quickly, so you want to hit it first. If you go with your family, it is best to split up and have someone go to the Polish booth and have someone else go to the Blackfoot booth to pick up an Indian Taco or two.

5. Speed Walk, if Possible — Depending on where you were able to get a place in line outside, once you get through the doors and pay your admission, you will want to walk (or run, depending on how much attention you want to draw to yourself) as fast as you can to the first booth on your list.

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the food booths a bit easier this year, and the first-timers will be able to enjoy the experience a bit better than just going in blind.

With that, I bid you all good luck in your pursuit of delectable delicacies. Happy Heritage Day!

Which ethnic foods do you look forward to sampling on Heritage Day?

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