5 Types of Events Mississauga Should Have

 

Have you ever done something super cool and memorable in downtown TO or another major city and wished a similar event could one day unfold in your backyard? You probably have. Mississauga is by no means devoid of events -- quite the opposite, actually. 

We have festivals. We have food. We have food festivals. We have block parties. Every year, we add more and better events to our roster -- see the success of the inaugural Asian Night Market at the Mississauga Waterfront Festival this year, for example.

But there's always room for more, and here are some ideas as to what else we can do to make life in Sauga even more exciting and unique. 

5) A Major Music Festival 

There are musical events in the city. In fact, every major Celebration Square event -- New Years Eve, Canada Day, the Mosaic festival's Rock the Coliseum concert, etc. -- gives both local and international artists a chance to share their craft with a sizeable and diverse crowd. That said, it would be great if Sauga could host a music festival that would attract out-of-town crowds. I understand that hosting a festival is no easy feat. You need space, you need volunteers and you need some big name artists. It's not an easy undertaking, but it's a worthwhile one that brings recognition and tourist dollars to the local economy. Imagine seeing one of Port Credit's sizeable lakefront parts converted into a very mini-Woodstock for a weekend in July. They could invite some bigger acts -- think The Black Keys or Florence + the Machine or Kendrick Lamar -- and intersperse them among more local and indie sets, giving smaller artists a boost while increasing the city's arts and culture profile. It's a big dream, but Rome wasn't built in a day and there's no reason a city the size of Sauga can't host a Toronto-style-festival. 

4) Winterlicious/Summerlicious 

For those who have heard of both but aren't quite sure what they are, Winter and Summerlicious are two food-friendly, Toronto-run initiatives that invite local restaurateurs to craft a more affordable prix-fixe menu for a few weeks in the winter and summer. Participating restaurants (although it is a city initiative, no one is forced to participate) get to entice people into their establishments with a cheaper, more varied menu and diners get to try new food and restos for a little less than usual. It's a good way to help restaurants attract new customers and it introduces people to new cuisines. It's something the city of Mississauga could look into, if only to draw more attention to our underrated and impressive food scene. Imagine being able to dine at one of these places for a fraction of the price. People on a budget could eat like kings at Piatto or Breaktwater for a night and, if they're impressed, they might save a few dollars to return for a full-price meal for a special occasion. Everybody wins because everybody eats -- and eats well. 

3) A Food Crawl 

A few years ago, I had the honour of tasting homemade buffalo momos at a tiny family-run restaurant in Chitwan, Nepal. What is a momo, you ask? It's basically a steamed dumpling filled with chicken, beef, buffalo, pork or veggies, garlic and spices and served with a viscous, fragrant hot sauce. It's goddamn delicious, is what it is and, believe it or not, there's a momo crawl happening in Toronto next weekend. We need an obscure food crawl of our own and, with two growing Chinatowns within our humble borders, we can absolutely do it. Imagine a steamed pork bun or Peking duck or grilled octopus crawl. People would come out for the novelty alone and it would help support an entire culinary community by uniting it with a wider audience. The plaza at Burnhamthorpe and Creditview would be a perfect location. Restos that are already there can serve the delicacy of choice out of their own kitchens and visiting vendors could set up booths or trucks. There would be pork buns for everyone and a fun, memorable day would be had by all except the pigs (RIP little Babes and Wilburs, we acknowledge and honour your sacrifice). 

2) More Pretentious (in a good way!) Bars, Restos and Art Events 

I use the word pretentious with love because, sometimes, a shi shi bar or event elevates a city's profile and makes people like me feel good about ourselves. One thing the city needs is more craft beer and cocktail establishments. The city has a decent beer and cocktail scene, but it would benefit from a few more places that showcase a cooler, chiller environment than, say, West 50 or Bier Markt (not that there's anything wrong with either resto, but they fill the resto-as-nightlife niche already). We need more places with 100+ beers on tap and creative alcoholic concoctions that are classy, cool and tasty. We need places that go a little wild with the menu, offering chicer and more adventurous pub foods like Cuban sandwiches (typically served with roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and spicy mustard), gourmet poutiness (think fries slathered in thick Indian curries) and ethnic staples (good pad Thais, curries and some South American favourites). We need restos that people outside the city travel to -- places with exceptional buzz, food, drink, atmosphere and service. We could also throw in more indoor and outdoor art exhibits (think of more Mosaic festival-style exhibits) to give our local artists more chances to shine and the public more opportunities to experience talent and creativity without having to travel too far for it.  

1) A Signature Festival 

Like I said earlier, Mississauga is by no means lacking in festivals. My condo has smelled like delicious pork for the past three days thanks to Ribfest and I often enjoy the myriad Celebration Square music wafting through my ever-closed balcony door. What we need is a signature festival that's exclusive to us -- something special that only we know and that people will travel to experience. Our food scene -- diverse and growing -- is a huge point of pride for us. Perhaps we could host a GTA-wide dosa, samosa or lechon festival. We have some absolutely incredible Indian and Filipino joints and we could host a festival that would let local chefs and restaurateurs shine among both hometown and visiting diners. With some choice musical acts, cultural events and activities and the promise of food (food, glorious food), we could start and grow another special event that would be our decadent and signature baby -- something worth driving from TO or Hamilton to experience.

 

Bonus: A Better Attitude 

Over the past few years, I've noticed a disturbing trend among Ontarians and it's a great fear of fun and a penchant for seeing the worst in everything. Look at the negative marketing for the Pan Am Games, where the chief promotional message was to stay off the roads or linger and die in forever traffic. Look at the hysterical response to the (granted, overcrowded) Mac 'n' Cheese Festival in Liberty Village. People called the oversold festival a literal disaster because they had to wait in long lineups and got confused about where to stand. They saw garbage and convulsed, whining to the media that their neighbourhood was a parmesan-crusted warzone. I was there and, while it was excessively busy, no one died. Surly Leslieville residents in TO are caterwauling to the media -- and the media and TO city council are listening, Jesus Christ -- about a craft brewery that has the audacity to be open to the public during the day (the sounds of laughter are driving malcontented NIMBY's to distraction). Even here, whenever talk about subways or new festivals or more entertainment comes up, vocal naysayers chime in with fear mongering about noise and hooligans and traffic and taxes. We're not a broke city. We're not a broke country. We want and deserve world-class transportation and entertainment and we'll only get it if we forgive start up hiccups (the Mac 'n' Cheese Fest), enjoy the spectacle (Pan Am) and brace ourselves for challenges and changes (more transport, more festivals, more entertainment) with an open mind and an eye towards the future. We live in one of the safest, most diverse and most prosperous areas in the world. Let's be grateful for our vibrancy and growth. 

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