Planning for Amherstburg Uncommon Festival ongoing


By Ron Giofu


Plans for the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival are underway and town tourism officials believe things are coming together nicely.

The festival, planned to be in the downtown core including Navy Yard Park and Toddy Jones Park, is set for Aug. 3-5 and manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota is enthusiastic about what the Civic Holiday weekend will do for the town.

“Something uncommon is about to hit the streets of Amherstburg,” said Rota. “Every day, a new exciting activity is added. By Aug. 3-5, people are going to be amazed at what is going to be in Amherstburg.”

Among the list of activities is a children’s innovation pavilion in Navy Yard Park which will include robotics, falconry and flight demonstrations, a straw maze, hat making, ghost walks, costume contests, tea pot races, a Canadian Historic Aircraft aerial display, quidditch games, psychic readings and Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival of Calamities. The latter will see a big top set up in Toddy Jones Park with tickets to enter being available at WFCU.

“Tickets are only $5 each because of a generous donation from WFCU, who sponsored the tent,” said Rota.

Rota said even the tourism department is surprised by the level of interest the festival has been receiving.

“We are amazed with the popularity of Harry Potter and steampunk,” said Rota. “We never thought there would be so much interest out there.”

The bulk of the event will be free, said Rota, and noted they have received a number of sponsors that have helped with costs.

“The streets will be filled with activities for the entire three days,” she said. “There are some very, very uncommon and unusual acts. We have fireworks every single night that ends the show.”

The costume contest will be judged by representatives from Windsor Comic-Con and have male, female and children categories.

“We will have giant steam engines on display and a chuckwagon at Toddy Jones Park,” added Rota.

What will be involved with the “Insecta Alley” will be left as a surprise for now, she stated.

There is no plan to have food trucks or vendors involved, Rota said, with people encouraged to visit local restaurants as many will have Harry Potter and steampunk-themed menus.

“We are really encouraging people to visit downtown businesses and restaurants,” she said.

For more information on the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival, call the tourism office at 519-730-1309, visit www.amherstburg.ca/uncommon or visit the tourism department’s Facebook page by searching “Amherstburg Connection.” The public can also follow the tourism department on Twitter by searching @AmherstburgNow.

General Amherst art students do something “uncommon” for upcoming festival



By Ron Giofu


A group of General Amherst High School art students will have a presence at the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival whether they are there in person or not.

Grade 11 students Mackenzie Szwed, Antonio Simone and Grace D’Alimonte created three large paintings depicting scenes from the film “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and they will be displayed during the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival that will be held Aug. 3-5.

Teacher Andrea Craig-Wammes pointed out that students Vanessa Favot and Ryan Sinasac helped out when they could. Craig-Wammes worked with tourism co-ordinator Jennifer Ibrahim on developing a project for General Amherst art students then the students took it from there.

D’Alimonte said working as a team made the project enjoyable and Szwed called it “really fun” to be a part of.

The group spent about 40-45 hours after school on the project with preparation work starting as early as January.

Amherst art students created work for the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival. From left: Mackenzie Szwed, Antonio Simone, Grace D’Alimonte.

“We knew it was going to be a big project,” said Simone.

The paintings depict “three establishing moments in the story,” he added with D’Alimonte stating “it tells the story just by the three (paintings).”

Ibrahim said the paintings will be displayed by the straw maze during the festival.

“It’s something we can look back on,” added Szwed.

Simone said Craig-Wammes encouraged them to “think outside the box” and that it paid off.

“This is a community project,” stated Ibrahim.

Ibrahim added that it showcases the “best in Amherstburg” in terms of artwork and that visitors from around southwestern Ontario and Michigan will be among those to view their work. The plan is to display the paintings annually.

Craig-Wammes added that the project was student-led and that they used outdoor acrylic paint to create the subject matter.

Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival coming to Toddy Jones Park



There will still be a festival going on in Toddy Jones Park on Canada Day, but it will have a different name than in past years.

Now known as the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival, it will be taking over Toddy Jones Park from July 1. Event organizer Kim Hamilton said the former Ice Cream Festival is back with a name change to accompany it.

“Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I know you’ve heard of the exciting events going on in Amherstburg for Canada Day over the last few years,” said Hamilton. “We’re kicking off the summer of 2018 with the ‘Canada Day Treats N’ Eats Festival’ brought to you by Glitterfly Entertainment, coinciding with the Canada Day festivities at Fort Malden! The day kicks off with the town’s annual Canada D’Eh Run (presented by Running Flat). Our festival runs from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. at Toddy Jones Park, in conjunction with the Font Malden outdoor concert, BBQ and activities across the street. All of this is followed up by an extraordinary fireworks display at sunset, put on by the Town of Amherstburg!”

Various different characters will be available to visit with at the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival at Toddy Jones Park. (Photo from the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Eats Festival Facebook page)

There will be a number of events at the Canada Day Treats ‘N’ Festival at Toddy Jones Park.

“This year the Canada Day Treats N’ Eats Festival is bringing you a boatload of family-friendly new and exciting activities including bouncy castles galore. There will be bounce-all-day passes available,” said Hamilton. “We will also have free mini-putt golf by Party Putt sponsored by Glitterfly Entertainment. There will be ice cream trucks (of course, it’s tradition!).”

Hamilton added there will be food trucks, merchant vendors (local artisans, businesses and not-for-profits), character visits with characters from “Fantastic Fathers,” face painting and glitter tattoos by Glitterfly Entertainment and Funky Faces, a princess meet and greet with a photobooth keepsake and “of course the use of Amherstburg beautiful park, playground and splash pad!  Don’t forget your bathing suits and towels.”

Hamilton asks people to remember that the festival is bike and pet-friendly “but please, pick up after yourself.”

“We’ve spent the last few months planning another amazing event for this year, and we are so excited to celebrate Canada Day with you all!” she said. “Please note a portion of funds raised each year, goes right back into the community, benefitting local charity organizations. You do not want to miss this amazing event!”

Amherstburg Soccer Club hosts ECSL soccer festival



By Ron Giofu


The fields at Larry Bauer Park were busy on the weekend as the Amherstburg Soccer Club hosted players, coaches and parents from around the area.

“This is our annual festival we are hosting for the ECSL (Essex County Soccer League,” explained Amherstburg Soccer Club (ASC) president Terry Sawchuk. “This year we had 48 teams between U8, U9 and U10. That is phenomenal. Soccer keeps growing.”

The ASC’s travel program, the Amherstburg Fusion, fielded three teams with the U9 team playing Saturday and the U8 team and the U10 team taking the pitch Sunday. Teams from across Windsor-Essex turned out as well to Larry Bauer Park, located in front of the Libro Centre. Games went off rain or shine.

Sawchuk was thrilled with not only the overall turnout, but the amount of girls that participated.

“I love to see more girls playing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s boys or girls, it a game anyone can play.”

The Amherstburg Fusion U10 team (white jersey) competed in the rain Sunday morning against Belle River in ECSL soccer festival action at Larry Bauer Park.

The Amherstburg Fusion program has roughly 150 players overall while the co-ed house league program has just over 400. There are about 40 players in the girls-only house league division. That brings overall ASC membership to around the 600 mark, with Sawchuk stating it is the largest youth sports organization in Amherstburg.

With the World Cup being this year, Sawchuk added it always translates into increased interest in the sport locally.

ECSL festivals take place across the county from around early-May to the end of August, said Sawchuk. He added that Fusion teams are also hitting the road for tournaments, including a large one in Sarnia in mid-July.

Sawchuk thanked the volunteers for helping to present the weekend tournament and also thanked the Town of Amherstburg. Town staff helped prepare the soccer pitches once they were finally able to get onto the fields after a lot of rain earlier this year.

“Obviously, it’s a partnership with the town to make them look this way,” said Sawchuk.

Coaches and parents also praised the ASC, noting that games went off on time and the fields were well prepared.

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.”