No shortage of festivals to go to this summer!

By MPP Toby Barrett

What do perch, pumpkins, natural gas and mudcats have in common?

From Delhi to Dunnville, Port Rowan to Caledonia, we pay homage to the many wonders of our two counties. From long-established huge events to newer, quainter functions, our area is rich in festivals and community spirit.

These festivals are a good time for the young and young at heart. But they are much more than that – they highlight what our two counties have to offer, from our rich cultural diversity to nature’s beauty. They also bring in people – sometimes huge crowds- from outside the riding to support local business.

For me, the festivals and parades are the highlights of the summer. I look forward to dusting off my W-4.

While two of the larger events – Dunnville’s Mudcat and Dover’s Fish Fest – have already taken place, I hope to see everyone in Caledonia and Port Dover July 1st.

Also on July 1st Backus Conservation Area hosts an Ice Cream Festival, and a Butterfly and Dragonfly Festival on July 8. Simcoe Lions host their Ice Cream Festival July 28 and 29. Along with tasty treats, check out the rides and live entertainment.

Although the Ice Cream Festival may be the tastiest, Simcoe’s largest event of the summer happens a week later with the Rotary Friendship Festival and Parade. It provides shopping opportunities in Wellington Park, music and a variety of attractions for all ages.

The Mighty Grand provides backdrop for Cayugafest July 20-21 – with the parade, car show, soap box derby and baseball.

The roar of speed boats echo off the banks of the river in Dunnville during Thunder on the Grand, Aug. 18 and 19. Classic cars roll in on Sunday.

One of my favourite parades is during Fisherville Fundays, July 12-14th including a car show and fastball tournament. Turkey Point’s Summerfest runs over five days Aug. 8 to 12. Selkirk’s Gasfest also features a parade, music and motorcycle show between Aug. 10 and 12. Continuing a busy weekend, Forest Fest is held Aug. 12 at the St. Williams Interpretative Centre.

I am pleased to learn of the resurgence of Jarvis Cornfest, August 17, 18 and 19th – a long held tradition which is enjoyed by all. The same weekend is always a busy one in Port Dover. Art in the Park attracts artisans and antique dealers. The Good Brothers, Tia McGraff and others take the stage in the evening for the Silver Lakes Roots Festival.

As summer winds down, there is one last blast of fun at Port Rowan’s Bayfest. Sunday morning’s parade, and the fireworks highlight a weekend chock full of activities.

Delhi celebrates its diverse heritage during HarvestFest between Sept. 13 and 15. The parade draws a good crowd, and you can’t get a bad meal in Delhi. And of course, Waterford means PumpkinFest Oct. 12 – 14

No article on the festivals would be complete without paying tribute to the agricultural fairs. Norfolk County’s is the largest but don’t miss Dunnville, Tillsonburg, Caledonia, Donnybrook (in Walsh), Langton and Houghton.

And unique for this year are events in the riding in conjunction with the War of 1812. Watch for details and don’t forget take in one of these historical treats.

Take the time to enjoy what we have in our backyard this summer.