Walking around the southwest Calgary community of Southwood in late May, you might find the community’s staple wild rhubarb plants are missing.
That’s because the community harvests them and gives them to Calgary’s Village Brewery. They, in turn, make a speciality rhubarb beer to be enjoyed by community members at the annual Rhubarb Fest YYC.
In 2012, the Southwood Community Board completed a revitalization of the park behind Anderson Station. As a celebration, they hosted a community barbeque, which, Southwood Community Association president Vivien Jonathan said, planted the seeds for Rhubarb Fest.
“That kind of bred the idea that maybe we should do something else and bring it closer to home, around our actual community association itself,” said Jonathan.
Jonathan has helped organize the event since its creation and said other community festivals – like Lilac fest – helped inspire the name, but that’s where the comparison stops.
“I don’t think our goal has ever been to be like Lilac Fest,” said Jonathan.
Instead, the event has always been about bringing the community together. That’s what keeps the event growing. Jonathan said Rhubarb Fest is still very community-oriented where other festivals have gone the route of commercialization.
The first official Rhubarb Fest took place in 2013 and, according to Jonathan, has been growing ever since. Even though things have evolved, some things just stay the same. Attendees can always expect to get a Spolumbo sausage and, of course, a slice of rhubarb pie.
Rhubarb Fest is free to attend and welcomes attendees from all Calgary communities. The event takes place June 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.