stop night market toronto

Toronto charity fundraiser devastated by wind storm

Cancelling something over weather concerns is never easy — especially when that something is a highly-anticipated, completely sold-out fundraising event that took all year to prepare for.

With $100,000 for local charity services on the line, a decision like that would be almost painful to make.

Fortunately for the unfortunate organizers of The Stop's Night Market, which shuttered on Wednesday amidst 100 km/h winds, nobody had to make that call. 

The weather did it for them.

"It was a little bit like The Wizard of Oz — like at any moment a house was going to come raining down on somebody " says Rachel Gray, Executive Director of The Stop Community Food Centre, noting that the event site on Sterling Road was "like a wind tunnel."

"Everyone was willing to stick it out — the chefs, volunteers... but it just was not safe," she continued. "We realized we would have to delay. As we stood there making the decision, we had to stop and take cover. We could barely see. Sand was blowing in our faces."

With the wind picking up, organizers were forced to cancel Day 2 of the two-day event altogether for both safety and public health reasons.

A notice went out to ticket-holders, who'd paid $100 each to attend the all-you-can-eat market, around 6:20 p.m.

For the most part, guests were understanding. Some admitted that they wouldn't have been able to attend anyway thanks to downed trees blocking neighbourhood streets. 

"It was crushingly disappointing," Gray explained. "We look forward to it from a fundraising perspective, our participants look forward to it… chefs work on menus all year for this."

Last night, #TheStopNM was hit hard by the severe windstorm. To ensure the safety of our guests and vendors, we made the heartbreaking but necessary decision to evacuate the site and cancel the event. Our restaurants and beverage vendors had been planning their menus for months, and we're so sorry that no one had the opportunity to taste their delicious creations. Many of these businesses have supported our work for years, and several have donated the food they'd prepared for Night Market to our community programs. While planning your next night out or catered event, please support these community-minded companies. ***If you are a June 13 ticket holder, please see the link in our bio for further information

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The Stop, a world-renowned non-profit organization which provides healthy food, skill-building programs and community support to low-income Torontonians, has been hosting its all-you-can-eat outdoor market fundraiser since 2012.

As of 2018, The Stop's Night Market has become one of Toronto's most-popular and beloved food parties — and with good reason.

All of the food, the labour, the carpentry, the time of chefs and their employees — literally everything — is donated.

"Good food events are not just about good food — they are about raising funds for people and communities that need that opportunity, that help," says Gray.

"When you support an organization like ours, it really has an impact long after you finish the canapés and delicious drinks."

Gray says they're in the process of providing refunds to those who asked for them — a process that, in total, could leave the charity about $100,000 short of what they need to get through the summer.

"A lot of enthusiastic foodies who come [to the market] don't know we do really important community work," said Gray. "Poverty is real for people in our community. We were counting on that support, counting on those dollars."

This is why The Stop, as well as many of the chefs who participated in this year's market, are encouraging ticket holders to consider making what they already paid a donation (tax receipt included).

#TheSopNightMarket has always been such a fantastic event, and we were fortunate enough be a part of if this year. Unfortunately though, due to the extreme weather on Wednesday @thestopcfc had to cancel their second day of festivities and are unable to reschedule. These two nights of drink and food are extremely significant to @thestopcfc’s ability to fundraiser and provide community kitchens, healthy food bank, and drop-in meals through the summer months in Toronto. If you had purchased a ticket for the Wednesday evening of #TheStopNM and didn’t get to attend, we encourage you, if you are able, to donate your ticket purchase to @thestopcfc in lieu of a refund. Charitable receipts will be issued for those who choose this option. Let’s help nourish Toronto and it’s communities together! - #donatetoday #fundraiser #communityfoodcentre #communitykitchen #healthyfoodbank #thestopcfc #sweetgrassbeer #beersponsor #beercocktail #goldenale #shagbark #stout #summerstout #sweetgrassbeer #craftbeer #craftbeerlife #ontariocraftbeer #beer #goodcause #foodandbeer #event #sweettimes #tastetoronto #spring2018 #foodanddrink #market

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Smoke Signals Barbecue published a series of Instagram Stories posts on Thursday encouraging ticket-holders not to ask for a refund.

"We get it. It sucks to have purchased a ticket and not be able to attend. But don't lose sight of what the event is for," reads part of the restaurant's post. "It's to raise awareness and resources for people who don’t have the luxury of eating canapés, a quenelle or a smoked brisket."

Gray says that Smoke Signals is one of many friends and chefs who've come forward to offer support, including Reunion Island Coffee, Oakwood Hardware, Dailo and Delica Kitchen, which donated all of the food it had prepared for Wednesday's night market to community members assisted by The Stop.

"We are so buoyed by that support and hope," says Gray. "This is what we have come to expect from the local restaurant community. They understand how important and powerful food is."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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