By MPP Toby Barrett
“Summer is here and the time is right for dancing in the streets”.
That line from the 1965 hit by Martha and the Vandellas comes to life in the many happenings across Haldimand and Norfolk this summer.
In addition to being a lot of fun for those of us who are local, festivals attract visitors and economic activity to our area.
Prior to the kick-off of the First of July, I will be tuning up my tractor, ’41 Dodge and stake truck for parades and car shows. I enter 20 parades a year.
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.
Canada Day, which is Tuesday, July 1 this year, kicks off summer with two of the largest parades. Port Dover continues its celebrations that started with Confederation. Caledonia’s Canada Day parade is top notch, attracting a very large crowd.
As part of Norfolk County’s Lavender Tour, I have the pleasure of taking my tractor to Bonnieheath’s Lavender Fest on July 5 and 6. Nearby Apple Hill Lavender is also part of the tour. These festivals bring a colourful, fragrance to the weekend. If Lavenderfest is the best smelling festival, Ice Cream Fest in Simcoe on July 26 and 27 is the tastiest.
Car shows are the highlight of Fisherville Lions ‘Cruise into Summer’ on July 12 and Cayugafest on July 18 and 19. Pioneer Life Day at Backus on July 12 is one of many events there almost every weekend during the summer.
Selkirk’s GasFest provides some good, old country fun with a parade, good food and a midway on Aug 9 to 13.
August is the month for festivals along Long Point Bay. Turkey Point’s Summerfest kicks things off Aug. 6-10. Port Dover’s Art in the Park is on Aug. 16 and 17. Port Rowan’s Bayfest wraps up Labour Day weekend with a huge parade, midway and fun for the entire family.
One of the more unique events in the riding is the return of Dunnville’s Thunder on the Grand boat races, Aug. 24 and 25 this year. This event is one of few speed boat races in southern Ontario. There is a classic car show on the Sunday.
Dunnville Agricultural Fair is the only full-scale fair taking place in the riding during the summer months. It’s the warm-up to fall fairs in Caledonia, Simcoe, Langton, Walsh and Houghton.
This weekend will see the re-enactment of the Battle of Malcom’s Mills, near Oakland. Malcolm’s Mills was the last battle of the War of 1812 and 1814. The last person killed defending Canadian soil was a Charlotteville lad with the Norfolk Militia. The re-enactment at Backus on Sept. 7 and 8 takes place in front of the only mill surviving the conflict.
Rumour has it a DelhiFest could be in the works for September. Waterford’s Pumpkinfest is an event of such a scale to make the Great Pumpkin jealous. It is slated for Oct. 17 – 19.
With the growing popularity of wineries, and building on the grape stomping tradition of the Hungarian Hall, I look forward to developments in this field.
These are highlights of just some of the many events in Haldimand and Norfolk. Contact me at [email protected]