Anne Rota

Local businesses hit record sales during Canuck It Up weekend

 

By Jolene Perron

 

With the Canuck It Up Festival bringing in approximately 80,000 people through the town, local businesses are speaking out about the benefits to their sales.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture for the town of Amherstburg explained they use a “square footage/people events formula” for free events and customer count in the businesses and museums to come up with their total number of people who visited the town.

“It was an opportunity to showcase what a magnificent, walkable, historic town we have,” said Rota. “People also commented on the accessibility of our town for special events. They appreciated that the programming was easy to get to and that it was worth the trip.”

Owner/operator of Gilligan’s Fire Grill, David Hayes, said August is usually his slowest month of the whole year, but this year is a completely different story.

“This weekend was the busiest three days I have ever had in the three years I have owned the restaurant,” Hayes said in a statement to Rota. “Visitors came in from out of town for the festival and said they will be returning for the food and the town in the future.”

Large crowds not only came to town for the Canuck It Up! Festival, but they also kept local businesses and restaurants busy.

Large crowds not only came to town for the Canuck It Up! Festival, but they also kept local businesses and restaurants busy.

The Waterfront Ice Cream Parlor had very similar results. After hearing about the numbers expected, and preparing by stocking up on ice cream, cones, spoons and napkins which took over their home, Jen and Justin DeLuca said they had a line up which stretched across the street and to the canons at the waterfront.

“It was very busy,” said Justin. “It was the busiest weekend we have ever had in our 38-year history. The tourism department in the town of Amherstburg really nailed it. They did a great job.”

The couple explained their staff, past and present, worked tirelessly over the weekend and “did a phenomenal job.” Even their 6-year-old and 9-year-old daughters were picking up napkins and cleaning tables.
Around the corner, Gabriel’s Deli had a line-up for four straight hours on Saturday.

“Saturday was unreal,” said owner Abe Elsayed. “I did enough sales for a week, just on Saturday. Sunday was a little bit slower, but overall the weekend was a success. I think I did well, everyone did well down here. I think we need more of this. People loved it.”

It wasn’t just the food businesses that saw the benefits of the festival. Shirley Wigle, owner of Our Place, said whenever a festival comes to town in the downtown core, the businesses along that stretch often see an significant increase.
“Our Place did very well, the festival was great,” said Wigle. “Whenever they do a festival and they don’t charge to come to the downtown core, we all do wonderful. The people can come through, they come through with their families, and it’s great. We did very, very well. Any time they put the barriers up, but they don’t charge people to come into the downtown core, we do awesome.”

Rota said given that this was Amherstburg’s signature event for Canada’s 150th birthday, the town has a lot to be proud of. From the people, to the businesses, the gardens, and the collaboration overall, we are “the little engine that could, and a force to the reckoned with.”

“Amherstburg is known for large scale events and between the hard work that comes from the volunteers and the support from various departments within the town, we come together and just gel to produce an authentic experience for our guests,” said Rota. “We treat our visitors like guests and they love it. Of course there are always some hiccups but planning in advance and checks and balances are key. We can build on that momentum to strengthen economic impact and a great place to want to live and do business in.”

 

Thousands come to Amherstburg to “Canuck It Up!”

By Ron Giofu

 

The Civic Holiday weekend’s “Canuck It Up!” Festival downtown and the accompanying Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event at Fort Malden National Historic Site brought large crowds to Amherstburg.

Nicole Bertrand of Amherstburg takes a selfie with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck Sunday afternoon.

Nicole Bertrand of Amherstburg takes a selfie with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck Sunday afternoon.

The town was hopeful for 40,000 people and estimates exceeded that, with Amherstburg’s tourism department believing they may have at least doubled that amount.

Despite the large numbers, the festival didn’t always run smoothly thanks to winds and associated damage from the wind. The heavily hyped World’s Largest Rubber Duck failed to inflate on Saturday due to winds and minor damage caused during an attempted inflation, causing many to be disappointed and angry. Town officials and volunteers fielded complaints and social media was abuzz about the deflated duck, but things turned around Sunday when the duck was repaired, inflated and ready to go.

The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps march down Dalhousie St. to Toddy Jones Park where they played a Canada 150 concert.

The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps march down Dalhousie St. to Toddy Jones Park where they played a Canada 150 concert.

“We redeemed ourselves today,” Rota said Sunday afternoon.

While disappointed about the duck on Saturday, Rota said there was still a lot to do as the West Coast Lumberjacks performed, bands played in Toddy Jones Park and Navy Yard Park, a children’s area proved popular and the events that took place at Fort Malden.

“People were just happy to be in Amherstburg,” said Rota.

The tall ship Appledore V was also late arriving due to wind gusts, but did make it to Amherstburg Saturday night in time for an evening re-enactment at Fort Malden. The ship was in town courtesy of Parks Canada.

“I’m seeing a lot of new faces,” Rota said Sunday afternoon.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo tries log rolling during one of the West Coast Lumberjack shows.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo tries log rolling during one of the West Coast Lumberjack shows.

Vendors were running out of food and she said outdoor patios at downtown restaurants looked to be doing well.

“There were so many activities,” she said. “Every square inch of the (Navy Yard) park, Fort Malden and the new waterfront site (at Duffy’s) had something for everyone. I believe everyone loved coming out to the events.”

Rota called it “a great team effort” by staff and the over 200 volunteers the two-day event had.

“We couldn’t do it without being a team,” she said.

Two of the recipients of Canada 150 medals that weren't in attendance Canada Day got them on Canuck It Up! weekend. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (centre) presented medals to police chief Tim Berthiaume (left) and Sandra Braendle.

Two of the recipients of Canada 150 medals that weren’t in attendance Canada Day got them on Canuck It Up! weekend. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (centre) presented medals to police chief Tim Berthiaume (left) and Sandra Braendle.

Rota added the event was well received overall and “I can see the town of Amherstburg doing something of this magnitude again.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreed the town bounced back after Saturday’s problems.

“It was a lot of disappointment and I think that was more than reasonable,” said DiCarlo. “It was difficult to see all the kids disappointed. If anyone was more disappointed than me, I’d be surprised.”

Some people were more upset than others, the mayor added, but noted it was a weather-dependent event.

“As soon as we could, we got it up,” he said. “It’s great to see it up.”

DiCarlo said Sunday afternoon he has been receiving positive feedback and most people were “very positive.”

The World's Largest Rubber Duck emerged from overtop of the trees Sunday as people looked west from Richmond St.

The World’s Largest Rubber Duck emerged from overtop of the trees Sunday as people looked west from Richmond St.

“Duck or no duck, we put on an amazing event,” said DiCarlo. “There was a lot happening. It was an extension of our Canada 150 celebration.”

People got a chance to meet each other and “have a great time in Amherstburg,” the mayor added.

“I think the event was an absolute success,” he said. “We really have to thank the people in our tourism department. They got a lot of support from volunteers. They pulled off an event this big with a small department. I think it’s amazing the kind of people we had in Amherstburg.”

Log cutting competitions were part of the West Coast Lumberjack show.

Log cutting competitions were part of the West Coast Lumberjack show.

Allan and Rose Clemens came out to the festival and took pictures near the duck Sunday morning. The Elmira couple said they were not aware of the issues the day before and loved what they saw Sunday.

“We’re actually renting a cottage in Oxley and we came here to see the duck,” said Allan.

“I love it,” added Rose. “It’s fun.”

Diane Bradford of LaSalle said she came with family Saturday but returned Sunday when the duck was inflated.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “We came here yesterday but came back today to see the duck.”

Donna Gorrell of Amherstburg said Saturday it was very busy but “it’s nice to see this many people in town.”
Gorrell said her children were hoping to see the duck but were understanding of why it wasn’t erected that day.

“They understand,” she said. “It’s windy.”

The roar of the cannons joined the firing of the muskets during one of the re-enactments at Fort Malden.

The roar of the cannons joined the firing of the muskets during one of the re-enactments at Fort Malden.

Gorrell added she was excited to see small businesses open and welcoming customers during the festival hours.

Ivan and Christine Ouellette came in to Amherstburg Saturday and Ivan said they were disappointed the duck wasn’t blown up. He said that was the first place they went to but were going to walk around and see what else was going on.

“We’re kind of disappointed the big duck is not blown up but that’s OK,” Jennifer Marshall said Saturday afternoon. “It looks like there’s a lot of other stuff to do.”

Kathy Hay added Saturday that she was not disappointed in the least, saying it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves in Amherstburg.

“I think it’s something we can definitely use. It really puts Amherstburg on the map,” she said. “I don’t see anyone too disappointed.”

For the most part, people were happy at Fort Malden National Historic Site as well. Roughly 7,000 people attended the Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event.

“It was a huge success for us,” said Fort Malden team leader Corrine Ross. “The battles were well attended. A lot of people from all over Ontario visited.”

Rhythm of a Nation performed in the parkette.

Rhythm of a Nation performed in the parkette.

Ross added that there were a lot of people who reacted to the battle re-enactments and many were engaged by what they experienced.

“For us, it was a huge success,” said Ross. “We’re very happy.”

Elizabeth LeBlanc, public relations and communications officer with Parks Canada’s Southwestern Ontario Field Unit, was also happy with the weekend’s festivities at Fort Malden.

“I think we had a phenomenal weekend,” she said.

Kingston Gardin rings the bell aboard the Appledore V tall ship.

Kingston Gardin rings the bell aboard the Appledore V tall ship.

LeBlanc said she believed many were re-visiting Fort Malden for the first time in a few years. The 7,000 attendance figure compared favorably to last year’s Military Heritage Days, which drew just under 1,000 people.

“Participants had a wonderful time,” said LeBlanc. “It was a super-positive experience.”

The Appledore V tall ship added to the weekend and although the Bayside, Michigan vessel was late, “we were just thrilled that given the winds and weather that we started the weekend with, they were able to participate in the battle Saturday night.

Crowds pour through Navy Yard Park Sunday to see the World's Largest Rubber Duck and the other attractions.

Crowds pour through Navy Yard Park Sunday to see the World’s Largest Rubber Duck and the other attractions.

“They were a huge hit on Sunday,” LeBlanc added.

LeBlanc said the general admission is still free to Parks Canada sites and responded to complaints over the $1.90 fee by saying it was due to enhanced programming and helped to cover costs over and above what is usually offered at Fort Malden.

“I don’t think we could have had a better weekend,” LeBlanc concluded. “It’s great to partner with the town of Amherstburg.”

To see more photos from the busy weekend, visit our Facebook album.

Belle Vue wins $10,000 in “This Place Matters” contest

 

By RTT Staff

 

The restoration of the Belle Vue property is a step closer thanks to the National Trust for Canada.

The trust’s “This Place Matters” online competition has concluded and the Belle Vue project – entered into the contest as “Belle Vue House – A Clear View into the Future by the Belle Vue Conservancy” – won the Community Builder prize and the $10,000 that goes with it. Results were announced Monday.

“Dozens of people in Amherstburg and beyond demonstrated the importance of this building to our past and to our future by voting every day to support the project,” said Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the Belle Vue Conservancy. “We are humbled by their commitment and very appreciative of the outcome of winning $10,000 which I understand is to be used to support the windows project. Thanks to everyone who voted!”

A look at Belle Vue, as seen July 2017. (Photo by Paul Hertel)

A look at Belle Vue, as seen July 2017. (Photo by Paul Hertel)

“Your votes really mattered,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “People who voted each and every day should be extremely proud. The Community Builder Prize was for the most number of votes on a national level! We couldn’t have done this without everyone’s dedication to vote every single day!”

The National Trust announced eight winning projects that participated in its 2017 “This Place Matters” national crowdfunding competition.

The Big Projects National Prize ($60,000) was won by Windows into the Future by First United Church (Truro, NS)

The Big Projects Regional-West Prize ($30,000) was won by Spirit of the Lyric by Lyric Theatre (Swift Current, SK) while the Big Projects Regional-Central Prize ($30,000) went to Keep Our Light Shining by PPLPS (Brighton, ON).

The Big Projects Regional-East Prize ($30,000) was won by the Union Art Project by Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation (Port Union, NL).

The Small Projects National Prize ($30,000) was captured by Spencerville Riverside Park by Spencerville Mill Foundation (Spencerville, ON) while the Small Projects Regional-Central Prize ($15,000) was won by Top off the Petrie by Architectural Conservancy Ontario Guelph Wellington Branch (Guelph, ON)

The Small Projects Regional-East Prize ($15,000) went to  Glenaladale… One Brick at a Time, Our Diamond in the Rough by Glenaladale Heritage Trust (Tracadie, PE).

Twenty-five participating project groups from coast to coast competed from June 14 to July 20 for Canadians’ votes and donations.

“At the close of five weeks of intense competition, the National Trust is deeply grateful for Canadians’ enthusiasm and generosity. ‘This Place Matters 2017’ raised awareness and much needed dollars for Canada’s historic places,” said Natalie Bull, executive director. “Our sincere congratulations and thanks go out to the community groups championing all 25 projects. Along with the prizes awarded, each project is a winner as they’ve all raised funds to help regenerate beloved community places that matter.”

The goal of the National Trust’s “This Place Matters” competition is to bring together community partners and community members to breathe new life into historic places across Canada.

Communities in Bloom judges tour Amherstburg

 

By Jolene Perron

 

For the second straight year, Amherstburg made the list of qualifying towns for Communities in Bloom with national judges touring the community for three days.

From Sunday through Tuesday, Lorna McIlroy from Alberta and Normand Fleury from Quebec stayed at The Bondy House and saw a number of key areas in Amherstburg.

Communities in Bloom judges Normand Fleury and Lorna McIlroy were in town Monday and Tuesday with one of the stops being Holiday Beach Conservation Area. Top row (from left): Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society president Dr. Allan Halowski, Councillor Leo Meloche, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, CAO John Miceli, Paulette Drouillard and Maxine Iler of the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society, tourism co-ordinator Jen Ibrahim. Bottom row (from left): manager of parks Annette Zahaluk, ERCA director of conservation services Kevin Money, Fleury, McIlroy, Councillor Diane Pouget, director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu and manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota.

Communities in Bloom judges Normand Fleury and Lorna McIlroy were in town Monday and Tuesday with one of the stops being Holiday Beach Conservation Area. Top row (from left): Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society president Dr. Allan Halowski, Councillor Leo Meloche, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, CAO John Miceli, Paulette Drouillard and Maxine Iler of the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society, tourism co-ordinator Jen Ibrahim. Bottom row (from left): manager of parks Annette Zahaluk, ERCA director of conservation services Kevin Money, Fleury, McIlroy, Councillor Diane Pouget, director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu and manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota.

“We’re excited to be here,” said McIlroy. “This is a beautiful, beautiful community and we have met so many people who are proud of their community and they’re volunteering and making it a better place. We look at tidiness, we look at environmental awareness, we look at heritage conservation and we look at the urban forestry, the trees, we look at the floral displays and the landscape, and through it all the community involvement.”

“It’s not only dealing with flowers but much more,” added Fleury. “It’s about how the cities are involved. It’s much more than just horticulture.”

Communities in Bloom judge Normand Fleury (left) chats with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on the judges tour of Amherstburg July 17.

Communities in Bloom judge Normand Fleury (left) chats with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on the judges tour of Amherstburg July 17.

McIlroy, who has been a judge with Communities in Bloom for 13 years, said this year is particularly special because the six cities she is visiting are all ones she has never seen before. Fleury on the other hand is experiencing his first year as a judge.

“It’s very exciting again,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “I think most people know, we did quite well last year, but did not take first place, but that’s OK. We lost to Niagara On The Lake, so we’re here doing it again and I hope we take the first prize this year. It is another nice opportunity, that is one of my jobs, selling the town and for this particular event it’s not selling it to have them move here, but just to show all of the amenities and attributes that make us the Town of Amherstburg and a great place to be.”

Communities in Bloom judge Lorna McIlroy takes a photo from atop the hawk tower at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

Communities in Bloom judge Lorna McIlroy takes a photo at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

Some of the stops on their tour included the historic Belle Vue site, the old Duffy’s site where the judges learned about the town’s plans to reconstruct the area, Fort Malden National Historic Site, Walker Aggregates, Holiday Beach and much more.

Amherstburg’s manager of tourism and culture, Anne Rota, said she along with the other residents of the town are incredibly thrilled to have the judges in attendance, and it shows.

“They seem to be very impressed,” said Rota. “It’s a team effort, and last night we walked along the Dalhousie street and we noticed that even the residents have really put their best foot forward and come out on top, the town looks amazing and I think we have a lot to offer. I think Amherstburg might just be very fortunate in their efforts to take home the gold this year.”

Shuttle buses to allow people easier way of getting to Canuck It Up Festival

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Canuck It Up Festival is fast approaching and there is a new way of getting downtown should people not wish to look for a parking space.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture with the town, said there will be four shuttle buses that will be transporting people free of charge to the Aug. 5-6 festival. The drop-off and pick-up point will be the intersection of Park St. and Dalhousie St., Rota said, with people able to park and catch one of the buses at the former Honeywell property or the Libro Centre.

“The buses will do a continuous loop downtown,” said Rota. “We’re encouraging people to hop on the buses. It will help relieve parking and traffic.”

An enormous rubber duck will be coming to Amherstburg as part of the Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival that will be held Aug. 5-6. (Special to the RTT)

An enormous rubber duck will be coming to Amherstburg as part of the Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival that will be held Aug. 5-6. (Special to the RTT)

If they don’t take the bus, Rota said the public is encourage to walk or carpool.

One of the major draws is expected to be the huge rubber duck that will be parked off Navy Yard Park near the intersection of Dalhousie St. and Richmond St.

The large rubber duck is part of the Ontario 150 Tour that is travelling to six Ontario ports. It started in Toronto and Owen Sound with other stops being Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Amherstburg and Brockville.

“We’re the second last stop for the duck. We’ve had weekly conference calls with Toronto and Owen Sound. They had record-breaking crowds. We’re trying to get ready as much as we can,” said Rota.

Many of the events run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days with those events including deck tours of the tall ship Appledore V, a Park House 150 fashion exhibit, stilt performers, horse and carriage rides, the farmers market and food court and daily 4 p.m. performances by the Greater Windsor Essex Concert Band.

Those attractions are in addition to the West Coast Lumberjack shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily and three daily performances by Rhythm of the Nation in Navy Yard Park. The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps will also be presenting a special performance Aug. 5 at noon in Toddy Jones Park.

The West Coast Lumberjack show is heading to Amherstburg as part of the Aug. 5-6 Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival. (Special to the RTT)

The West Coast Lumberjack show is heading to Amherstburg as part of the Aug. 5-6 Canuck It Up Canadiana Festival. (Special to the RTT)

“They’ve been preparing for Canada 150 for about one year,” said Rota. “They’ve been traveling across North America for competitions with the Canada 150 show.”

Canada 150 celebrations are “once in a lifetime,” Rota added, and that the town hopes people come to Amherstburg to enjoy the Canuck It Up Festival in the town’s downtown area.

“For Amherstburg, we are looking at Canada 150 as a year-long celebration,” said Rota. “The Civic Holiday weekend is the perfect time to hold this festival.”

In terms of planning and logistics, Rota believes it is as big as the Roots to Boots Festival that was held in 2012.

For more information, call the town’s tourism office at 519-730-1309, visit www.amherstburg.ca/canuckitup or www.facebook.com/AmherstburgConnection.