Fort Malden National Historic Site

Harvest Festival announces entertainment line-up

 

By Jolene Perron

 

The WE Harvest Festival has officially nailed down their line-up for the event from Sept. 8-9 at Fort Malden.

Their Friday night headlining act is Big Wreck, who is a Canadian-American rock band from Boston, which has been around since 1994. Saturday night’s headliner will be My Son The Hurricane, a “14-piece brasshop funk beast with the mantra: anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

The band, from the Niagara/Toronto area mixes New Orleans style grooves with funk, jazz and hip hop.

We harvest Festival

“It’s really coming together,” said event coordinator Chris Mickle. “We have had a great response on the tickets this morning online. We are really proud of the line up, we have some stellar good musicians. We’ve been booking festivals for about nine years now so we have a lot of professional contacts out there but we’ve been fundraising like crazy and begging sponsors, and we’re lucky enough to come up with enough money to book some of these guys.”

For more information on the entertainment, and to purchase tickets, visit http://weharvestfest.com/.

Author seeking local stories May 24 at two Amherstburg locations

By Danica Skakavac

 

In honour of Canada’s 150 Anniversary, Toronto author Darlene Butts has decided to create a book that contains 150 different Canadian stories, all containing the same idea; “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” as Butts puts it.

Instead of researching and writing the whole book and all 150 stories herself, Butts is asking around all of Canada for people to send in their unique and historical story so that it may be added to the book. There are many ways to get involved; submit a story, follow on social media or through the website that includes an interactive map that shows where the tour is going and where it has already been. You can also sponsor a classroom for books or sponsor the tour itself to ensure it becomes a reality.

Butts is calling it the ‘150 Canadian Stories’ project and is taking it on tour with her as she collects more and more entries. The book itself is a ‘mixture of Chicken Soup for the Soul and a really cool Canadian history book’. Butts’ goal is to get a finished copy of the book in the hands of every grade five student, from St. John’s to Vancouver. She is looking for a combination of tears, laughter, goosebumps and as well as the response, “Wow! I didn’t know that!”

Various stories included will be about historical figures that contributed to Canada. “I want stories that engage the reader, inspire them to experience Canada, and help them learn about all the wonderful people, places and things that have been woven together to make this country great,” says Butts, about her aim for the book. She will be stopping at Fort Malden and the Freedom Museum on the afternoon of May 24 during her tour, as she has lived in Windsor/Essex County for 18 years.

She plans on being at the museum for 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Fort Malden for 3-3:30 p.m.

“I love Canada so much and believe that I can be anyone and do anything here. I wanted to share that with other Canadian’s and especially inspire the next generation,” says Butts.

Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival a hit

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival appears to have been a hit.

The festival, which ran last Friday through Sunday at Fort Malden National Historic Site, surpassed 8,000 people. The target had been at least 6,000 people. The event was run by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) with Chris Gibb and Aldo DiCarlo acting as co-chairs.

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival was held at Fort Malden National Historic Site over the weekend with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce being the main presenters. Ashley Lynn and the Spurs performed Friday night.

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival was held at Fort Malden National Historic Site over the weekend with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce being the main presenters. Ashley Lynn and the Spurs performed Friday night.

Saturday night drew positive reviews, with Gibb stating that although it wasn’t sold out, they were “very happy with our numbers.

“For a first time event, we were elated to hit our numbers,” he added. “It shows people want an event at this time of year at this place.”

The addition of craft breweries and craft distilleries, the latter including Amherstburg’s Wolfhead Distillery, proved to be popular, Gibb continued.

“We got a lot of positive compliments about that,” he said. “Wolfhead was a hit.”

There were different attributes to this year’s Harvest Festival that people may not have seen at the previous Shores of Erie International Wine Festival but that turned out to be a positive attribute as well.

Dino Trevisol, Todd Brush, Larry Cote, Cathy Brush and Kim Sloan sit by the Detroit River Friday night.

Dino Trevisol, Todd Brush, Larry Cote, Cathy Brush and Kim Sloan sit by the Detroit River Friday night.

The venue and the weather again was deemed to be an attraction, as there was a bit of rain and wind Saturday but that cleared out of the area relatively quickly.

“For a first time event, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves,” said Gibb. “The overwhelming thing is we have one of the most valuable, publicly accessible waterfronts in the province. It is open to the public and is part of the public trust. (The public) wanted to use it. They wanted to come here and enjoy themselves.”

The plan for the Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival was to plan for this year only.

“We’re going to see what happens next year,” said Gibb. “We’re not thinking of next year.”

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival saw Crystal Gage perform Friday.

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival saw Crystal Gage perform Friday.

DiCarlo, also the town’s mayor, said he walked the grounds at Fort Malden all three days talking to people and said he received glowing feedback.

“Everybody is happy,” he said. “People are loving it. They are amazed.”

DiCarlo said he heard good things about the organization, the variety of food and drinks as well as the entertainment. The electronic wristbands went over surprisingly well and said it was the first time that technology had been used at a smaller festival in southwestern Ontario.

Food and drink vendors were running out of food and drinks Saturday night and lines were long but moved swiftly.

“A lot of people told me it exceeded their expectations,” said DiCarlo. “The most common word was variety. People were ready for something different. We were going for something different – a little bit upscale. The feedback people are telling me is we nailed it.”

Feast On and Bev On tours were popular both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Feast On and Bev On tours were popular both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Layout was similar to the wine festival, DiCarlo acknowledged, but they tried to do something different and also paid attention to the finer details, including putting bales of straw near the portable washrooms to dress the location up and block the views of them.

Both DiCarlo and Gibb thanked the many sponsors and volunteers for their support not only during the weekend but in the weeks leading up to the festival.

“We could never do it without the volunteers,” said Gibb.

DiCarlo also thanked the ACOC, as that was the organization he approached about staging an event during the second weekend of September.

“We had to have an event and we had to have it this year,” said DiCarlo.

Karen Wettlaufer from Wolfhead Distillery said they were thrilled to be part of the weekend. They had two booths set up on the grounds.

“This is very exciting. We are all about local and the festival is all about local,” she said. “We are are here with our neighbours who are also about local.”

Debbie Scott and Karen Wettlaufer show some of the products Wolfhead Distillery had to offer.

Debbie Scott and Karen Wettlaufer show some of the products Wolfhead Distillery had to offer.

Wettlaufer said it was great to be out at a public event and having people try their products. They were exposed to more people, some for the first time, and Wettlaufer pointed out “it’s a great opportunity for us.”

Carolyn Parent brought the “Wheely Scrumptious” food truck to the festival, stating it is only the second festival their new venture has been at – the first being last month’s Woofa-Roo Pet Festival.

“I am ‘wheely’ excited to be here,” she said. “It’s great to see so many local people.”

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival was good for the town, Parent believed.

“It’s brought a lot of visitors to Amherstburg,” she said.

The festival having “Feast On” and “Bev On” designations was important to Parent and she noted her business also tries to support local growers and vendors where possible.

Stacy Ouellette and Cheryl Purdie (along with friend "Dick") attend the Harvest Festival Sunday afternoon.

Stacy Ouellette and Cheryl Purdie (along with friend “Dick”) attend the Harvest Festival Sunday afternoon.

“I think it’s important for the community,” she said.
Parent added: “It’s a nice community event. We couldn’t ask for a better spot.”

Gordon Orr, president and CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI), acknowledged the Feast On and Bev On designations and believed it was one of the first in the region to boast such a designation. ACOC president Carolyn Davies said their mandate is to promote local business and community engagement and she believed the festival did that.

Art by the River celebrates 50th year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Organizers and vendors at Art by the River reported good crowds and positive feedback during last weekend’s event… when it was dry, that is.

Thunderstorms cut both days of the 50th annual event short but when it was sunny and hot during earlier portions of Saturday and Sunday, things still went well. The annual event is presented by the Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts, the body that runs the Gibson Gallery.

Denise Busko works on a painting last Saturday during Art by the River. She was one of the 150 artists and artisans on the grounds of Fort Malden for the 50th annual event.

Denise Busko works on a painting last Saturday during Art by the River. She was one of the 150 artists and artisans on the grounds of Fort Malden for the 50th annual event.

“Yesterday was one of our busiest days that I can remember,” said Dave Cozens, president of the board of directors. “Fortunately the storm came late enough (Saturday) that people had already been here.”

Saturday afternoon’s storm saw damage to about five tents but Cozens noted that it was minor and there were no injuries that he was aware of. The decision to close early came around 3 p.m.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Cozens.

Sunday’s round of storms once again caused the event to shut down early, as the call was made to close around 2 p.m. The gallery reported via the Art by the River page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/artbytheriveramherstburg) they were on track for a record turnout before the thunderstorms rolled in.

Overall, there were about 150 vendors that took over the grounds at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada. Being the 50th anniversary of Art by the River, the gallery added a raffle tent with about 80 pieces of art being donated. Cozens said that was popular.

“The raffle tent has been packed,” he said.

Vendors came from all around southern Ontario, he said, something publicity director and board member Bonnie Deslippe confirmed. She said many are from around London and Toronto with some being north of Toronto. One vendor comes from as far as Manitoba every year.

Traya and Melah Mulder  create their own pieces of art at the “Little Artists’ Workshop” during Art by the River.

Traya and Melah Mulder
create their own pieces of art at the “Little Artists’ Workshop” during Art by the River.

“The feedback I get from exhibitors is that they love the venue and they love how organized the show is,” said Deslippe. “We hear it all the time – ours is one of the better run festivals.”

While the 50th anniversary is important to the Gibson Gallery, Deslippe said the artists are the most important factor to Art by the River.

“For us, the focus is always on the art,” she said. “The focus is not about us, it is on the art and making sure everyone enjoys themselves, both the public and exhibitors.”

Deslippe pointed out the volunteers have been a vital part of the show for each of the 50 years.

“The event can’t go off without our dedicated volunteers,” she stated.

When storms hit, Deslippe added the volunteers worked hard to make sure everyone was safe and merchandise was cared for properly.

Crowds stream through Fort Malden National Historic Site during Art by the River. The event is the Gibson Gallery’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Crowds stream through Fort Malden National Historic Site during Art by the River. The event is the Gibson Gallery’s largest fundraiser of the year.

For Denise Busko, this year’s Art by the River was her first and she is trying to branch out into larger, outdoor shows to get more exposure to her paintings.

“This is what I want to do, sell my art,” she said. “I’m going to keep doing shows like this. It’s been a good experience. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback.”

Busko said she has done solo exhibitions and smaller shows but liked Art by the River.

“I think this has been the best yet just because of how many people come here,” she said.

Local author John Schlarbaum was along the shores of the Detroit River selling his books and reported Saturday afternoon things were going well.

“For me, I’ve sold a lot of books,” said Schlarbaum. “I am very happy.”

Schlarbaum called it “a nice local, cultural event” that allows him to connect with his readers.

“The Greek Chef” Oreste Papageorgiou and his delicacies were part of the show for about the sixth time. He said the people are very friendly and has never had any issues with the organizers of the show.

“A lot of the same people come here and say ‘we love you, don’t stop coming,” said Papageorgiou.

Papageorgiou said they loved the fact they were helping the Gibson Gallery celebrate the 50th annual show.

“We love to celebrate with them. That’s quite a milestone,” he said. “It seems to be getting better all the time.”

Dan Greenwood and his Erie Treasures Chainsaw Art came in from Wheatley for the second straight year and he called it a nice venue he enjoys coming to. He said he is learning what pieces to bring to which shows and has learned that the Amherstburg show has resulted in a lot of bird creations being sold.

“Last year, we sold everything that looked like an owl,” he said.

Greenwood said coming to Art by the River “has worked out very well” and “we love it here. We’ll come back again next year.” He added he can remember coming to Art by the River when he was 11 or 12-years-old.

Kaitlynn Lessard and Sallma Majthoab create a large piece of art as part of a competition for students during Art by the River.

Kaitlynn Lessard and Sallma Majthoab create a large piece of art as part of a competition for students during Art by the River.

Lanre Peacock was at Art by the River for the first time. Having just moved from Toronto to Windsor, he wanted to try a local show as he generates a good portion of his income through art sales.

“I love what I do,” he said.

Much of Peacock’s work is sold online but he wants to get to various art shows in the region as well and tried Art by the River. He said the exposure and feedback was strong.

“That goes a long way when you are hearing people talk about what you are doing,” said Peacock.

The Gibson Gallery is located at 140 Richmond St. and their phone number is 519-736-2826. Their website is www.gibsonartgallery.com, their Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/GibsonGallery and their Twitter account is @ARTamherstburg.

Feds to invest almost $1.2 million to revitalize Fort Malden National Historic Site

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Visitors to Fort Malden National Historic Site got a glimpse of over 2,000 years of military history over the weekend but the Fort itself will soon have its own history re-invested in.

Fort Malden will be receiving almost $1.2 million to reinvest in the fort’s heritage structures and visitor facilities. According to Elizabeth LeBlanc, public relations and communications officer for Parks Canada’s southwestern Ontario field unit, the investments “will protect our heritage and strengthen their appeal as destinations to celebrate our nation’s achievements.”

Work should start next year, she indicated.

The gun crew from the 34th regiment fire the cannon as part of Military Heritage Days at Fort Malden Sunday afternoon.

The gun crew from the 34th regiment fire the cannon as part of Military Heritage Days at Fort Malden Sunday afternoon.

“Starting in 2017, we are going to do an assessment of the site,” said LeBlanc.

Exteriors of buildings, windows, pathways, and lighting will be part of the assessment process in order to see what opportunities there are to reinvest and restore the historical site. Actual construction and renovations would occur in 2018 during off-peak times, she added.

LeBlanc said the money is coming through the Federal Infrastructure and Investment program.

It is not the first investment in Fort Malden in recent years, LeBlanc added, as $815,000 was invested in order to add to structures on the site in order that storage of materials could be accommodated better. There was also additional office space created, she said.

Military Heritage Days saw a bit of a different layout this year, she noted, as Fort Malden staff moved artillery and weapons demonstrations to the southern portion of the grounds, along the Detroit River. The new layout helped accommodate a “Seneca run,” an obstacle-course type of event where participants also fired muskets as part of it. People could also get a “birds-eye” view from one of the bastions onto the range.

Re-enactors with the 34th Regiment fire during a mock battle Sunday afternoon.

Re-enactors with the 34th Regiment fire during a mock battle Sunday afternoon.

“They changed it up a bit this year,” said LeBlanc.

The parade square was geared towards youth activities and attractions for younger age groups.

In addition to the grounds and buildings themselves, Fort Malden has also revitalized its programming, LeBlanc noted. A theatrical production was held last month with another planned for Aug. 19-20, the latter one to feature the story of the rebellion.

“It’s a great way to get this amazing story out to people,” said LeBlanc.

Roman re-enactor Joe Perz places a chainmail vest onto Elijah Morin during Military Heritage Days.

Roman re-enactor Joe Perz places a chainmail vest onto Elijah Morin during Military Heritage Days.

A murder mystery was held Saturday night and an “escape room” will be held Aug. 6 and Aug. 13 to allow people to decipher riddles and escape from a soldier’s barrack. There is also a day camp for youth planned for Aug. 8-12 as well.

“Hopefully there is something for everyone,” said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc added the programming team at Fort Malden is also looking at additional events for the fall months.

For further information on the new programs, call 519-736-5416 or visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca/fortmalden.

To see additional photos from the July 30-31 Military Heritage Days, please visit our our Facebook album.