By Nigel Yonge and Zoe Millette
Cowichan is located in Canada’s only “Maritime Mediterranean Climatic Zone”, a fancy term that means we live in a pocket that’s home to the warmest year-round temperature anywhere in the country. For this reason, plants and outdoor activities thrive here when the sun comes out! To shed light on the latter, here’s just some of what’s happening this summer.
Ladysmith’s “Dine on the Dock”
Ladysmith, the town located at the northern edge of the Cowichan Valley, hosts the annual “Dine On The Dock” which, as you might have guessed, is a culinary event that takes place on a floating dock. Each event features a guest chef from a local restaurant who prepares an exquisite feast. Menus range from lasagna to BBQ ribs and always include a vegetarian option.
“Dine on the Dock” occurs every other Friday, from June 2 to September 8. Cash bar opens at 5pm with dinner starting just after 6pm. It may be dinner hour, but be sure to bring sunscreen because it’s invariably a glistening, sunny evening.
Cost is $20 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by reserving in advance at 250-245-1146.
2017 dates: June 2 & 16, July 7 & 21, August 11 & 25 and September 8.
Cobble Hill Farmers Market
If you’re a fan of things that are made, baked or grown, then you must make your way to the Cobble Hill Farmer’s Market, which takes place on summer Sundays in the heart of Cobble Hill. Merchants include those who make, bake or grow farm fresh veggies, fruits, preserves, meats, eggs, flowers, plants, crafts, clothing, body products, soaps and more.
The fun begins on June 11, from 10am-3pm and continues every Sunday thereafter until September 24.
Sunday Pizza Nights at Merridale
Speaking of Cobble Hill, if you’re in that neck of the woods on any given Sunday in the summer, be sure to check out Merridale Ciderworks’ popular Sunday Pizza Nights. On their back deck you can enjoy delicious, house-made brick oven pizzas and live music.
The bistro opens at 5pm for dinner with live music running from 6 to 8:30pm. Reservations are highly recommended.
Cowichan On Tap Beer Festival
All in favour of craft beer, raise your glass! Cowichan On Tap Beer Festival takes place in downtown Duncan’s City Square and features live music, a fun atmosphere, prizes and the best beer you’ve never tasted from nearby and regional microbreweries. Funds raised at this event go towards supporting KidSport Cowichan, which provides grants for children to participate in sport.
VIP Tickets are $35 and include early admission, exclusive access, a souvenir mug and 7 beer tokens. Regular admission is $25 and includes access at 1pm, a souvenir mug and 5 beer tokens.
Date: Sunday, July 2 from noon to 5pm
Monday and Wednesday Pizza Nights at Bird’s Eye Cove Farm
Halfway between Maple Bay and Genoa Bay is the sprawling and idyllic Bird’s Eye Cove Farm. One of the oldest working farms in the region, the farm continues to produce hay and raise livestock. Their signature “Barn” is a traditional hand-hewn timber frame structure housing the farm kitchen, which, as it turns out, is ideally suited for creating delicious brick oven pizza (gluten-free pizza dough available). Bring a blanket, gaze at the stars and feel free to discuss what everyone does eventually – moving to Cowichan.
Dates and times: Monday and Wednesday nights, from the beginning of June until the end of September from 4pm – 8pm
Concerts and Festivals
39 Days of July
Hosted by the inimitable impresario, Longevity John of Downtown Duncan’s Duncan Showroom, the renowned 39 Days of July packs more entertainment into the month of July than can be logically accounted for. In a nutshell, 39 Days of July is free entertainment in a small town on a very large scale.
From June 30 to August 7, you’ll be able to experience free music and other entertainment in downtown Duncan from noon until 8pm in Train Station Park (next to the old train station) with extra concerts on Wednesdays in City Square (next to City Hall).
A Musical Feast at Blue Grouse
At their stunning location just west of Cowichan Bay, Blue Grouse Estate Vineyard has planned “A Musical Feast at Blue Grouse”, an evening that combines fine wine, music and food. On Sunday July 16, they invite you to experience the talents of pianist Misha Piatigorsky (www.misha.nyc) and two renowned chefs, Bill Jones (www.deerholme.com) and Peter Zambri (www.zambris.ca). In an elegant atmosphere, you can enjoy family style platters of the finest local meats, seafood and vegetables, live music and of course, divine wine.
Cost for Early Birds: $190 per person; General (after July 1): $250 per person
Date and time: Sunday July 16, 4pm – 9pm
Sunfest Country Music Festival
What do country singers Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw all have in common? The answer is that they’ve all performed at an increasingly popular concert called “Sunfest”, right here in Cowichan. Now firmly established at Laketown Ranch Music & Recreation Park in Youbou (near the town of Lake Cowichan), Sunfest attracts thousands of country music fans and boasts an international fan base.
This year the headliners include Toby Keith, Little Big Town, Corb Lund, plus many other acts over three days, in what is typically a very hot month. No hotel? No problem. Camping is encouraged.
Date: August 3rd – 6th, 2017
Location: Laketown Ranch (near Lake Cowichan, about half an hour west of Duncan)