FOOD FEST: New downtown event helps chase dreams

FOOD FEST: New downtown event helps chase dreams
Jane McLaren

CORNWALL, Ontario – The city’s newest summer festival, Cornwall Food Fest, benefitting the support program for developmentally disabled adults, Beyond 21, will be making its debut next month.

To be held on Saturday, August 22, from 11 am to 8 pm, the event will feature a variety of food trucks, local artisans, vendors, musicians and a beer tent. The United Way will also have a children’s area at Pommier Square.

“Basically, we’re just having a big party in the downtown,” said event organizer, Jane McLaren. “Local restaurants are getting on board. The ones on Pitt Street are either going to do pop-up tents, or have specials on their patios or in-house; people are excited.”

 “It really started as a dream,” she said. “As a parent who was watching her child grow up, and when she hit 21, had to leave the high school program and there was no place for her to go.”

McLaren went on to explain that at the age of 21, as young adults, they do get into some programs, but for the most part, they sit and watch television or play video games. Their parents might have to quit their jobs to stay home with them, or they have to hire somebody to “babysit” their child.

“And even though they have developmental disabilities, they are adults, so they know when they are being babysat. That’s not what they want; it’s not what any of us want at the age of 21, and they see their peers graduating, leaving and making plans, school, college, university or a job.”

That’s were Beyond 21 was really born out of, she said.

“The whole premise is we call ourselves dream chasers. The people that come to us have dreams and our role is to help them reach those dreams to the best of their ability – independent living, getting a job, volunteering or just being with friends. They all have dreams, and our goal is to chase those dreams with them. Beyond 21 is a place where they could go, on a daily basis, and be connected with people, peers, community and maintain involvement in the lifestyle that they had known from school.”

Volunteers are needed in many areas, to take tickets, in the beer tent, and general runners as well as musicians to volunteer their talents. There is still room for more artisans and vendors ($50 table fee).

“Everyone who is participating will be labeled a dream chaser for the day,” said McLaren.

For further information, to volunteer or to become a vendor, contact at or call 343-370-5521.

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