One of Nova Scotia’s best-kept secrets might be Devour! food and film festival – held annually each October in the small town of Wolfville, about a 40-minute drive from Halifax – is one of Nova Scotia’s best-kept secrets. The gastronomic festival has been named “the top foodie destination on the film festival circuit” by the Hollywood Reporter, attracting a parade of celebrity guests and speakers including Jacques Pepin, Michael Smith, Chuck Hughes, Gordon Pinsent, Jason Priestley, and the late Anthony Bourdain.
Part of the allure of the festival is its humble location – the population of Wolfville nearly triples when Devour! is in town. “The beauty of where we are is that Wolfville is ultimately the perfect scenario for a festival like this,” explains festival director, Michael Howell. “The entire downtown core is four blocks long.”
More Than Films
There are about 100 individual events at Devour! each year, but it’s much more than films. The Bubbles Bus is a tour that explores the Annapolis Valley wine region, while foraging workshops invite guests into the forest, where, guided by a chef, they “hunt” for local mushrooms, ferns, and pine needles. The Mayor’s Bike Ride for Devour! is a 20-mile bike ride around the lush valley countryside, accompanied by local politicians, cyclists, and fellow festival-goers. The “Chowder Smackdown” is a long-running chef’s competition held at the local Lion’s Club, where you are the judge. The main attraction, however, is a program of fascinating food-themed films, screened in Wolfville’s charming Al Whittle theatre.
Film and Food: The Perfect Pairing
As well as being the largest film and food festival in the world, Devour! is unique in the way it matches culinary experiences with moviegoing. For example, during a screening of Funke, a fascinating film about Los Angeles pasta chef Evan Funke, moviegoers were offered a small sample of delicious pasta with a truffle sauce to nibble in the theater. While watching Pulled Strings, a film about making handmade noodles by young Canadian filmmaker Vicki Chau, diners enjoyed a duck leg consommé with handmade noodles, as part of their five-course dinner.
Celebrity Spotlight with a Small-Town Feel
Filmmakers, chefs, and film aficionados fly in from all over the world to attend Devour!, but don’t let this intimidate you. Despite the celebrity spotlight, a trip to the world’s largest food and film festival is surprisingly relaxing because of its unmistakable small-town feel and the fact that, compared to other world festivals, it is relatively unknown.
The celebrities like it this way. There’s no dress code in Wolfville, and no big city lights – just a collection of locals, tourists, and talented film and culinary artists who love to watch movies, eat delicious food, and sip incredible Nova Scotia wines.