Blog: The Ottawa Line and Whine Show?

The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival has picked up a few more names: the Ottawa Food and Line show, the Whine show and the Gong show. For people who didn’t have VIP tickets, the wait times to get into the annual event took anywhere from 40 minutes to more than two hours on Friday and Saturday night.

My colleague and I arrived at 4 p.m. on Saturday after hearing about the lineup woes the night before that began as early as 5:30 p.m. We were assigned to tweet, blog and take photos at the festival and weren’t sure what we’d walk into.

Once you made it inside the Ottawa Convention Centre, it was easy to lose track of time. In fact, the minute you went up the escalator to the third floor, it was sensory overload with hundreds of exhibits, thousands of people and thumping music. The crowd was young, well-dressed and there to party. Since the event began 27 years, some things don’t change.

When we looked at our watches two hours later, it felt more like midnight and more like Las Vegas than Ottawa. Everywhere you looked, there were skin-tight dresses, sky-high stilettos and smartly-dressed men dripping in cologne. The show’s owner Joan Culliton told me last week that Ottawa has a reputation of being the best-dressed wine and food event crowd on the Canadian circuit. There was no disputing that with eye-catching party frocks, sequined mini-dresses, racy tights, metallic denim and men who looked like they walked off a Calvin Klein photo spread in crisp dress shirts and smart jackets.

By 8 p.m., the crush of people made my head spin although the mood remained jovial amongst the decidedly tipsy crowd. With very few places to sit, dozens of elegantly-attired twentysomethings sprawled out on the outer rim of the convention centre’s floor sipping their drinks and gabbing with friends. Everywhere you turned there were lineups: at the washrooms, food booths, and, of course, to get in. One friend, who I bumped into on our way out, sweet-talked a security guard into letting her in after being separated from friends who were already inside.

On Saturday night, there was a steady stream of tweeters who reported that they received refunds, while others exchanged their tickets for Sunday. Perhaps next year, tickets should be sold in blocks of time to avoid confusion and disappointment.

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