By MPP Toby Barrett
Haldimand-Norfolk is parade and festival country.
Every weekend through the summer, and on through the fall, there is some sort of festival somewhere in the riding paying homage to our area’s cultural diversity, our agricultural roots and natural beauty. These festivals bring people into the riding’s towns and villages creating much-needed economic activity.
For me, parade time means it’s time to put on my mechanic’s hat to ensure my W-4 tractor or my ’41 Dodge or my old truck are in running condition.
July 1st festivities in Caledonia and Port Dover are next on the horizon – their parades are second to none.
Bonnieheath’s Lavender Fest takes place July 6 and 7.
Next up are Fisherville Fun Days on July 12 to 14th. This village might be small but its festival is mighty with a car show and fastball tournament. Highlights at Backus Conservation Area include the butterfly and dragonfly festival on July 14 and the murder mystery on Aug. 17.
CayugaFest provides old-fashioned family fun on the banks of the Grand River July 19-20 with a car show, good bands, contests for children and a town-wide yard sale.
Simcoe’s tastiest festival has to be the Lions Club Ice Cream Festival, slated for July 27 and 28, a week prior to Rotary’s Friendship Festival on the August long weeekend. Hagersville Lions have their turn a month later at their Summer’s End Festival.
Turkey Point Summerfest has a variety of activities for kids of all ages Aug. 7 to 11 while Selkirk’s Gasfest marches in with a parade, music and motorcycle show Aug. 9 and 11.
Jarvis Market has a revitalized Cornfest Aug. 16, 17 and 18, holding events most weekends, often featuring music and car shows.
The biggest news this year on the festival front is the Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of the Road tour stopping in Simcoe on Aug. 23 and 24. Predictions are 20,000 people will descend on the Norfolk Fairgrounds.
One of the more unique events in the riding is Dunnville’s Thunder on the Grand speed boat races, Aug. 24 and 25 this year. This event is one of few speed boat races in southern Ontario. It also features a classic car show on the Sunday.
Port Rowan’s Bayfest arrives Labour Day weekend. Sunday morning’s parade and the evening’s fireworks are highlights, but there is a full weekend of things to do.
Now becoming known for its Strawberry Festival, Delhi continues to re-invent HarvestFest, Sept. 5 to 8.
Although not technically festivals, the two War of 1812-14 re-enactments will be crowd pleasers. The re-enactment at Backus on Sept. 7 and 8 takes place in front of the only mill surviving the conflict. There will also be the Battle of Nanticoke Re-enactment on Nov. 9 and 10 at Haldimand County Archives in Cayuga
Waterford’s Pumpkinfest is an event of such a scale to make the Great Pumpkin jealous. It is slated for Oct. 18 to 20.
Port Dover’s Friday the 13th continues to draw thousands of bikers. This year it will be September before bikers descend on the lakeside town. Art in the Park is one of the highlights of Dover’s Summer Festival on the third weekend in August and the Port Dover Roots Music Festival takes place in Silver Lake Park.
Come on out to this summer’s parades and festivals.