There are many benefits to a spring visit to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. The weather will likely be beautiful and warm, without the blistering hot intensity of summer. The drive through the arid countryside will be lovely, and the roads won’t be as crowded with wine aficionados. And best of all, you can delve into your deepest desires for all things pork and wine at the annual Pig Out Festival in Oliver.
The annual Pig Out Festival is one-day, family-friendly festival in one of Canada’s sunniest and driest regions, the south Okanagan Valley. Nearly 1,000 people gather each year at the sprawling family-owned Covert Farms vineyard and winery to celebrate spring and all things local – pork, food, wine and… Star Wars?
Pig Out celebrated eight years in May, and judging by the excited crowd lining up to feast and frolic on the farm, the event is more popular than ever. This year’s Pig Out fell on Saturday, May 4th, so the natural course of action was to embrace the spirit of the ‘May the 4th’ and the Force to weave a Star Wars theme into the food and fun. It worked out exceptionally well – the Force, and the pork, was with us.
The annual pig roast brought together talented chefs from several local restaurants, including Platinum Bench Artisan Bakery, Watermark Beach Resort, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, and Oliver Eats.
The 43 members of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association were in attendance, their wines pairing very well with the pork-themed creations and gorgeous surroundings.
Festival attendees (many in costume) wandered from tent to tent, with glass and plate in hand ready to be refilled with local wine and pork-forward foods like tacos, ribs, sausages, chilli and pork belly sandwiches. Many food vendors creatively titled their savoury offerings with names like Chewie’s Cannolis and Jar-Jar Links with Rocket Slaw.
There’s no limit to how often you can return to sample the delicious food and wine, and the event has a lovely community feeling to it. It was obvious that many attendees had ‘pigged out’ in previous years, and were happy to reconnect with winery staff and local food vendors.
The Pig Out Festival is a ticketed event (2019 event tickets were $65 for adults), but children under 12 are free and welcome. In addition to the great food, there are lots of fun activities for kids, including jumping on Covert Farms’ giant bouncy pillow, watching the farm’s llamas graze, participating in the Star Wars-themed costume contest, and taking a stick to a piñata.
The 2020 Pig Out Festival will take place on May 2nd. Mark it on your calendar now, and may the Pork be with you.
Tip: If you visit and stay in the Oliver area for the Pig Out Festival, return to Covert Farms to enjoy its outdoor setting as a great place to picnic after a bike ride or hike. Covert Farms is a gateway to the famous Okanagan landmark, nʕaylintn (McIntyre Bluff).
Disclosure: The writer was a guest of Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country.
Photo Credits: Claudia Laroye