Every summer our kids beg us to take them to one of eastern Alberta’s quirky roadside attractions. We’ve posed for pictures under the world’s largest mallard duck in Andrew, checked the time on Canada’s tallest free standing clock tower in Wainwright and even waited for alien life at the world’s first U.F.O. landing pad in St. Paul. We’ve even stood beneath the delightfully doughy 8.2 m (27 ft) perogy, complete with a giant fork, in Glendon’s Perogy Park.
This year we surprised them with a road trip to see more of Alberta’s food themed attractions and sample some of the region’s great culinary fare along the way.
Smoky Lake: Canada’s Largest Pumpkin Park
An hour northeast of Edmonton along Hwy 28 brings you to Smoky Lake, the pumpkin capital of Alberta. We took pictures of the kids clowning around under an imposing 2.5 m (9 ft) winter squash at the aptly named Pumpkin Park and then headed to Linda’s Market Gardens for seasonal produce and homemade jams, pickles and cabbage rolls. If you’re in town on a Saturday morning stop by the Farmer’s Market for Smoky Valley Goat Cheese and Serben Free Range meats.
Vilna: World’s Largest Mushrooms
Thirty minutes northeast of Smoky Lake you’ll find the charming village of Vilna. As a participant in Alberta’s Main Street Program the village has beautifully restored historic buildings, hand carved benches and a wooden boardwalk. In honour of the area’s excellent mushroom picking Vilna has also constructed three 6 m (20 ft) tall fungi just off Main Street. Equally as cool is Alberta’s oldest operating pool hall and barbershop. We timed our visit perfectly and were able to grab lunch at the sidewalk BBQ that’s held every afternoon in the summer.
Vegreville: World’s Largest Pysanka
From Vilna we drove southeast to Vegreville’s Elks/Kinsmen Park to see the world's largest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg). Built as a tribute to the RCMP Centennial, the pysanka represents harmony, vitality and culture. The 9.4 m (31 ft) tall egg is an amazing colourful work of art comprised of 524 star patterns and 2,209 triangles. While we weren’t likely to find any Easter eggs to eat, we couldn’t pass up a chance to sample the authentic Ukrainian hand-pinched perogies at the historic Vegreville Train Station.
Mundare: World’s Largest Sausage
Head back to Edmonton along Hwy 16 and you’ll hit the sausage capital of Alberta. To celebrate the overwhelming popularity of its garlic sausage Stawnichy's Meat Processing built for the town of Mundare a most impressive 12.8 m (42 ft) sausage. We stopped in for Ukrainian sausages, cheese crepes and pompushky (traditional Ukrainian doughnuts) to take home. Happy kids, happy parents, perfection.
- Self Drive