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January 23, 2019

Thursday night, what's there to do? Sure, we could order pizza or see a movie. Watch something on Netflix and kid ourselves that we could try to stay up past 11. But what's the fun in that? We were in desperate need of something that would feel like a Friday, but... on a Thursday.

Scrolling through the Internet I saw all kinds of things I'd never heard of, having just moved into Calgary. There were festivals, events, plays and theater events. Honestly, my quick search turned out to be slightly overwhelming. Fortunately, that was right when I stumbled upon Taste of Calgary.

Intrigued, I opened it up. I love food (so does Bailey), and it sounded easy enough to get to. When I saw that sample tickets were only $1, I was sold! We had one—or more—balcony beers, and then headed towards downtown with our backpacks and banana boards.

The ride to the C-Train was exciting, because we found out that the sidewalk we had planned on taking wasn't actually a sidewalk and was mostly a concrete barricade. We crossed a pedestrian underpass on Macleod Trail (not recommended-smells awful) and soon found ourselves at the station. I boarded feeling confident it was going to be a good night.

 Ditching the train at the 4th Street station, we took the banana boards through a mild detour of downtown, and eventually pulled up at the Eau Claire Market. After loading up on tickets, we were soon drowning in food in the most convenient sample sizes: steak bites, deep fried pickles, dumplings, pulled pork, and SO much more! Our excitement grew as we discovered more and more delicious vendors. The atmosphere at the event was amazing.

Photo by: Brodie Toliver

Eventually, after circling through the food vendors we were delighted to stumble upon the Cheers Gardens. It's safe to say, this is probably where our adventure began. After taste-testing sangria's, beers, Caesars and margaritas we felt we were definitely taking in the festival the way it was meant to be experienced. We also discovered the "EXIT ONLY" signs near the band are not actually exits. Chatting with others, we learned loads about local companies and their products, and made a ton of new friends. There were some products we saw as cutting-edge, and others that were more... interesting. However, one thing we really liked is that all the products being sold were local. Importers were not allowed, which really frees up some of the market for our own local vendors to make a name and following for themselves. It was really nice to meet and talk to, owners and operators the companies as they offered us unique personal insight into their companies and values.

Towards the end of the evening, having met many people and having our very fair share of beverages, Bailey and I mutually decided it was time to continue with our adventure. The sunset that night was absolutely stunning, and really lit up the city quite well.

Once we crossed the Peace Bridge, we made the best of all of our pent up food-and-beer energy, converting it to movement and rotation in our banana board wheels. While we raced each other down Calgary's path system I had many thoughts that resulted in Bailey and I getting caught up together, hitting a tree, and bursting into flames—or maybe that was a movie. Either way, the momentum was a terrifying yet thrilling experience. I doubt I could replace that memory with anything else I've done in Calgary.

Photo by Brodie Toliver

After we meandered through the path system, we hopped back on to the train at Sunnyside Station, which was rather uneventful. Our journey back towards Chinook Station near the apartment, Bailey had her first wipe-out: some interesting road rash from a botched slide attempt. I'm surprised I never fell myself. Our extravagant end to the night was an $8 Uber ride home because we were slightly too exhausted to make the final stretch.

- Brodie Toliver

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