New festival coming to Amherstburg this August



By Ron Giofu


The Town of Amherstburg’s tourism department was so pleased with the results of last year’s “Canuck it Up!” Festival that it is now adding another August festival.

“Amherstburg Uncommon” will be held Aug. 3-5 and while tourism officials aren’t officially disclosing details until the March 19 town council meeting. In the meantime, they have received $23,350 under the province’s “Celebrate Ontario” grant program to help plan the event.

“We saw the application for the Celebrate Ontario 2018 grant as an opportunity to bring another large-scale event to Amherstburg,” said manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota. “Amherstburg Uncommon festival is hosted in Amherstburg but we see this as a large regional event.”

Even though the town has received the provincial grant, Rota said they will still be seeking corporate partners and sponsors as well as budgeted funds for the event.

“Definitely, our goal is to boost business for the downtown merchants and all businesses in Amherstburg,” she said. “Everyone knows Amherstburg is rebranding itself and positioning itself as wanting to attract new business and new investment. A great way to do that is through growing our attraction portfolio. By strengthening our festivals and events, we enhance the visitor experience therefor increasing attendance. People spend more money and we hope it leads to job creation.”

There will be a “symposium” for business owners to learn more about the festival and other 2018 events March 27 at the Libro Centre. Two meetings are planned with business owners invited to either the 8 a.m. meeting or the 3 p.m.

“We encourage all business owners and stakeholders to come out,” said Rota, “not only to find out about the new event, but everything relating to tourism and culture for the year.”

The “Amherstburg Uncommon” event will be “inclusive,” said Rota, adding that “people are going to be able to take part.”

“This will be a very family-friendly event,” she continued. “Receiving the grant makes us feel comfortable the Ministry of Tourism and Sport recognizes the potential of this new event.”

2018 will be busy at Fort Malden National Historic Site

By Jonathan Martin


Fort Malden National Historic Site is marching into a busy season.

The park will host a variety of programs, including Windsor-Essex County’s first ever escape room festival.

The festival is set for June 16.  Local escape room companies will bring 7-9 of their timed puzzles to the fort, complete with “varying themes.”  The fort itself will design and execute an additional two it has titled “Escape the Barracks” and “Escape the Marquee.”  The event is set to include live entertainment, food and drinks.

More immediately, from Monday, March 12 to Friday, March 16, Fort Malden will run a March break day camp for youth.

March Break programming is underway at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.
(Submitted photo)

According to Parks Canada public relations officer Rae Kingdon, the activities included in the camp will range from crafts to hands-on cooking in the Fort’s 1840s-era cookhouse.  Kids will take part in both indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts and be introduced to period games.  The camp targets youths aged 6-12.

The camp participation fee is $24.50 per participant, per day.  Kids can take part in one day or all five.  The programs run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  To register, participants must call 519-736-5416 or e-mail

Fort Malden won’t officially open for the season until May 19, though, when it will reveal its newest exhibit, titled “The British Wore Red?”  According to Parks Canada, the exhibit will feature a timeline of military uniforms, clothing and artifacts from Fort Malden’s history.

On July 1, Fort Malden will host the annual Canada Day event in conjunction with the Town of Amherstburg.  As in years past, the event will feature “cool activities and entertainment” and will end with a fireworks display along the Detroit River.

More information and a list of special events can be found on the Town of Amherstburg’s website at or Parks Canada’s Fort Malden page at

Local artist crosses off item on her “bucket list” with her first exhibit



By Ron Giofu


The work of Sandra Menard is on exhibit at the Gibson Gallery through March 25 and those interested in seeing her work had better get in there between now and that date.

“This is the one and only time I am going to do this,” the Amherstburg resident said of exhibiting her work. “It was on my bucket list.”

Menard estimates there are about 45 paintings on exhibit with the work encapsulating about six decades of work. One painting included in her exhibit – entitled “Some Beauty I’ve Seen on my Way” – was created almost 63 years ago.

“My son was born in 1955 and I painted it that year,” said Menard during an opening reception.

Noting she works mainly in oils, Menard has painted some watercolours over the years. Much of her work is landscapes but there are wildlife paintings and other subject matter included as well.

“It’s just whatever catches my eye,” she said. “I do like landscapes.”

Sandra Menard is presenting her first-ever exhibit “Some Beauty I’ve Seen on my Way” now until March 25.

Some of the paintings originate from a vacation she took with her daughter, with her daughter taking photos and Menard painting from them. She also is a regular painter at a Thursday art group in her apartment building.

“I love playing with colours,” she said.

Menard has given away many paintings over the years, joking she had to retrieve some of them so she could have the exhibit. She does have some of her work for sale as part of the exhibit.

“I hope everyone will come out and have a look,” she said, adding she plans on coming to the gallery once per week during the time the exhibit is displayed.

This is the first exhibit at the Gibson Gallery in the 2018 season. The gallery is open Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

For further information, call 519-736-2826 and or visit their website at Their Twitter account can be found at while their Facebook account is found at

RCMP Musical Ride coming to Leamington



By Pat Bailey

A fair that is older than Canada itself will mark its 170th birthday with a special taste of Canadiana.

This year’s fair promises to take fairgoers on a wild ride–a special ‘musical ride’.

For Leamington District Agricultural Society President Tammy Wiper it’s 10 years in the works but worth every bit of time and energy she has put in.

She grins from ear-to-ear, so excited, honored and proud to boast about this year’s special guests at the fair in June–the RCMP Musical Ride.

The agricultural society will play host to 32 horses, their riders, tack people, groomsmen and the rest of the entourage June 14-17.

The RCMP Musical Ride is a team of RCMP officers dressed in their signature uniforms (including scarlet tunics), the broad Stetson hat, atop their black horses– performing intricate figures and drills, choreographed to music.

It is a spectacle to behold.

And Wiper can’t wait.

She thinks it’s the perfect way to mark one of Ontario’s longest running fairs—with a group symbolic of Canada, dating back to 1874.

Leamington District Agricultural Society President Tammy Wiper shows of a piece of memorabilia from the RCMP Musical Ride’s last performance in Leamington in 2000. (Photo by Pat Bailey/Southpoint Sun)

She also believes it’s a great inexpensive way for local residents to see the RCMP riders in action.

Wiper said for the mere cost of admission to the fair ($7 for adults, kids 12 and under free), fairgoers will be able to witness this beautifully choreographed performance. She said there will be two performances – one on June 16 and one on June 17.

The groundwork, preparation and welcoming of these ambassadors of goodwill might be overwhelming for some, but Wiper welcomes the challenge.

She may not have a large team, but her core group of 22 board members, are up to the task she said. Wiper said she’s got a hardworking group—willing to help out in any way they can.

She said, in her case, the tenth time was definitely the charm.

Wiper said since becoming president 10 years ago she has tried every year to lure the group to Leamington. Each year she received a similarly disappointing email– that Leamington just didn’t fit into their tour plans.

In fact, it’s been 17 years since the RCMP Musical Ride performed in Leamington. The team graced the fairgrounds in 2000, co-hosted by the agricultural society and Leamington Kinsmen.

This year’s affirmative email elicited a rather childlike response from Wiper and her helper Jen Robinson.

“We were jumping for joy,” she laughed, “like two little kids.”

Since her initial reaction, Wiper has been busy hosting Marc Dureau, tour organizer, to make sure the group is prepared to host such a major event.

Wiper said officials were impressed with the Leamington facility and the group’s presentation.

Fortunately, as hosts of Standardbred racing, Wiper said many of the requirements are already in place but admits she will be looking for volunteers come spring.

“There’s a lot of work involved,” she admitted, “but it’s so worth it.”

“We are just thrilled,” she added, “to be able to present something so historical and so Canadian.”

Plans are still in the works, but Wiper said there is definitely one group she wants to invite as her VIPs—local veterans.

“This is something they would like to see,” said Wiper, “and it’s the least we can do to honour those who have sacrificed so much for us.”

She’s also sending out an open invitation to residents from throughout Essex County to make the trip to Leamington to witness this spectacular equestrian display.

This year’s fair will take place June 15, 16 and 17 and promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Wiper said the barns will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., those same days, for fairgoers to tour.

Nominations open for ACOC’s Business Excellence Awards

By Ron Giofu


The best of the best in Amherstburg’s business community will be on display April 27 but now is the time to let the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) know who the public thinks is the best.

Nominations are now open for the ACOC’s Business Excellence Awards with the public invited to let the Chamber know who they think the winners should be. ACOC president Carolyn Davies pointed out they have modified the categories slightly, with the major change being elimination of Large Business of the Year and Small Business of the Year and going with Business of the Year and New Business of the Year instead.

There are 11 categories in all with the Welcoming Accessibility Award being a new addition for this year. Davies said that award is geared towards businesses who have taken steps to allow those with disabilities greater access to their establishments.

Other categories include Excellence in Customer Service, Most Attractive Improvement, Community Service/Community Involvement, Growth & Expansion, Investing in a World Class Workforce, Excellence in Food Services, Business Legacy and the ACOC Director’s Choice Awards.

Davies said it is a chance to recognize hard working local businesspeople for the efforts they do and the commitment they make.

“Business owners work hard trying to provide a good service,” she said, adding for many it’s a 24/7 commitment.

The ACOC Business Excellence Awards are a way for the community to show their appreciation to the business community, Davies noted.

Nomination forms can be dropped off at Gibb Insurance, the River Town Times, the Dan Gemus Real Estate, Duby’s Home Centre or people can visit The awards will be handed out April 27 at Pointe West Golf Club. Tickets are $50 per person and available at the same locations.