Bonnie Vaughan (left) and Sandra McKinnon of Greenwood enjoy a tea service at the first Valley Tea Festival.
By Kirk Starratt
Considering the many health benefits of tea, it seems fitting that the first Valley Tea Festival helped raise funds for the Our Community Our Health campaign.
Many of those who attended the event at Wolfville’s Festival Theatre on Nov. 3, including Bonnie Vaughan and Sandra McKinnon of Greenwood, took time to sit and enjoy a tea service. Vaughan said she very much enjoyed the tea and sweets and she appreciates the nuances to making the perfect cup of tea.
“There’s an art to tea, you know,” Vaughan said, pointing out she enjoys getting together with others to enjoy a cup.
“It’s a very social thing, especially in the Maritimes.”
Tea is considered the world’s most consumed drink after water and, according to Canadian Food Trends to 2020, consumption across the country is expected to increase 40 per cent. Maritimers spent $25.5 million on tea in 2009.
Vaughan liked the idea of holding a tea festival as a fundraiser for the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation and Valley Hospice Foundation capital campaign.
McKinnon thinks it would be fun if organizers held a hat competition to go along next year. After all, she enjoys getting together with people and socializing as much as the tea itself. She and Vaughan both were both sporting hats at the event.
Katherine Burnett of Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley in Charlottetown was among the exhibitors. She was contacted about the festival in the spring and decided to make the trip.
“I think it’s awesome,” Burnett said. “We should do this in Charlottetown.”
This was the first time she exhibited at a tea festival such as the fundraising event in Wolfville. She brought along various samples of tea and tea products, including their award-winning Post Tea. These are envelopes with scenes and post cards printed on them containing various teas suitable to mail for any number of special occasions.
Valley Regional Hospital Foundation executive director Gerry MacIsaac said Margot Bureaux, a local tea sommelier, came to them with the idea for the unique fundraiser. There were exhibitors and presenters on hand from across the Maritimes and local musical entertainment.
MacIsaac said all the food for the event was donated by the local business community. Organizers were grateful to have so many volunteers from both the hospital and hospice foundations and the general public helping out. They’re striving to raise the final $1.5 million needed to successfully complete the Our Community Our Health capital campaign.
“The quicker we can reach $8 million, the quicker we can break ground for the hospice,” MacIsaac said.
Tea sommelier couldn’t be happier with festival
A local tea sommelier and three-time Canadian champion for tea-based beverages said she couldn’t be happier with the first Valley Tea Festival.
Modeled after a huge tea festival held in Victoria, British Columbia, the Valley festival was the first of its kind on the east coast.
Margot Bureaux of Hantsport said she was looking for an organization willing to put on such an event, paired with a fundraiser. She approached the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation and Valley Hospice Foundation with the concept, and the tea festival in support of the Our Community Our Health campaign was born. Bureaux was among the presenters at the event.
Bureaux said the connection between tea and a health foundation fundraiser is somewhat serendipitous, as tea has many great health benefits. Teas have cancer-fighting agents, can help reduce cholesterol, promote oral health, are good for hydration and are good to drink. Tea can also be very social.
“If you enjoy entertaining, tea is the way to do it,” Bureaux said.
Tea is very versatile and can be enjoyed anytime, anyplace, she added.
There is also so much that accompanies tea, including various collectibles, serving sets and not to mention all those dainty sweets and sandwiches. With hundreds of varieties of tea to explore, once you start delving into them you realize you can experience the world in a cup of tea, she said.
Bureaux said she comes from British heritage and moved to east Africa in 1971, where she was first introduced to afternoon tea while attending a British boarding school.
“I just loved it,” she said.
Bureaux began travelling internationally in her 20’s and realized how much she enjoyed tea as she tried more and more varieties. She said this experience helped her develop her ability to distinguish nuances of various teas.
About Our Community Our Health
- Funds raised through the Our Community Our Health capital campaign will improve health care for Valley residents through the redevelopment of the Valley Regional Hospital, the purchase of specialized medical equipment and building a hospice and palliative care centre. There is $1.5 million left to go to meet the $8 million goal.
- Redevelopment projects have been completed but there is still much-needed equipment to purchase. This includes a computerized information system and an automated medication delivery system.
- The Hospice and Palliative Care Centre has yet to be built. It will be connected to the Valley Regional Hospital with an enclosed, above-ground walkway and its programs integrated into the Annapolis Valley Palliative Care Program.
- The hospice will provide peaceful and dignified end-of-life care in a homelike environment and will include a resource centre.
- For more information on the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation and Valley Hospice Foundation capital campaign, visit www.OurCommunityOurHealth.ca.