Monica Bunde

About 500 from Windsor-Essex County attend Holiday House Tours

 

By Ron Giofu

 

People from Amherstburg and surrounding municipalities streamed through the ten houses that were decorated and on display for the Holiday House Tours.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

The house tours, a part of the ongoing River Lights Winter Festival, saw ten houses on display with nine of them being private homes and the tenth being the Park House Museum. Monica Bunde, who helped co-ordinate the tours and was a decorator of one of the homes, said the Park House was the “tea room” stop on the tour with the other homes being clustered around the municipality.

The homes were decorated either by local businesses, by decorators or the homeowners themselves.

“We’ve expanded the footprint this year,” said Bunde. “We’ve expanded outside of the downtown core so people get the feel for all of Amherstburg.”

The homes were concentrated in different areas of the town with four, counting the Park House, being within walking distance in the Dalhousie St./Rankin Ave. area, three more within Amherst Pointe, one at the corner of Alma and Victoria St. S. and the other two in the former Anderdon Township.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

“It made it easier,” explained Bunde. “You can park and walk to see three or four homes then go to the next section.”

Bunde said they not only wanted visitors to see the homes themselves, but visit the boutiques and restaurants in Amherstburg as well.

“People have been booking lunch or dinner,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “It’s a package. It’s not just looking at the homes. It’s an economic stimulus for the town.”

Homes that were considered somewhat “iconic” were featured on this year’s Holiday House Tour. Bunde said many of the homes have been the subject of people wondering what they looked like on the inside and the house tours gave people that glimpse.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

Not only did people willingly open their homes this year, but Rota said there are already six requests from homeowners to be on the Holiday House Tours in 2017. She remarked there could soon be a waiting list for homes.

Rota added that early estimates had about 50 per cent of the attendees be from outside of Amherstburg as a lot of people from the Windsor-Essex County area converged on the town for the tours.

Carolyn Davies and Merv Richards had their home, the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast, as one of the stops on the tour. Davies, the current president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC), agreed that it was a great event that brought hundreds of people to town. She said not only did it bring the people, but it strengthened the local economy in the process.

“It’s an event, it’s an experience,” added Bunde. “It’s for everyone.”

It is estimated that 500 people turned out for this year’s Holiday House Tours.

Mardi Gras thrills the downtown crowds over the weekend

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Downtown Amherstburg was a sight to be seen last weekend as the streets flooded with crowds, magicians, bands and even a space-age Elvis Presley.

For the second year in a row Dalhousie Street was transformed into Bourbon Street during the 2016 Mardi Gras Street Party. The event was hosted by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce with the hopes of attracting around 5,000 visitors to the downtown core.

Silver Elvis entertains crowds in front of the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlour  during the Mardi Gras Street Party last Friday evening. (RTT Photo by Adam D'Andrea)

Silver Elvis entertains crowds in front of the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlour during the Mardi Gras Street Party last Friday evening. (RTT Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

“We’re expecting about the same as last year with a little bit more. Last year we had 4,300 people. We’re hoping to hit around 5,000, maybe around 2,500 per night,” said Chamber of Commerce general manager Monica Bunde last Friday. “That’s a nice-sized crowd and that’s a manageable crowd for the police, security and our volunteers.”

(UPDATE: The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce estimates the crowd at approximately 2,000 for Friday and Saturday combined. That figure was given late Tuesday afternoon.)

Entertainment throughout the weekend was provided by buskers such as magician Bill Nuvo, Silver Elvis, the Stilt Guys and Jojo’s Bizarre Circus, as well as a number of local bands from throughout Essex County. An increased entertainment budget was one of the major changes made from last year’s event.

The Stilt Guys strike a pose during the Mardi Gras Street Party on Dalhousie St. last Friday. (Photo by Adam D'Andrea)

The Stilt Guys strike a pose during the Mardi Gras Street Party on Dalhousie St. last Friday. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

“We found last year that’s what the people wanted. They wanted more music, more bands and more buskers,” Bunde said. “They wanted to see them throughout the streets.”

In addition to an increased budget, the Chamber of Commerce also increased the physical size of the festival this year.

“The footprint has been extended to the Dalhousie Bistro on Rankin Avenue and Dalhousie Street, so it gave us an extra block and four more restaurants,” Bunde said. “The Dalhousie Bistro, The Cellar, the Beacon Ale House and Waterfront Ice Cream.”

Tap performs during the Mardi Gras Street Party on Dalhousie Street last Friday evening.

Tap performs during the Mardi Gras Street Party on Dalhousie Street last Friday evening. (RTT Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

Bunde said the Chamber of Commerce is already planning for next year’s Mardi Gras festival. One of the initial steps they’re taking in the planning process is to survey festival goers and use opinions to their benefit.

“We try hard with these festivals and we listened and surveyed people last year. We have people doing surveys Friday and Saturday with the Canada Festival Network,” she said. “They’re going to do some surveys for us and give us some data so we can move forward and hopefully next year we can have an even more successful event.”

According to Bunde there is a high demand for new and exciting festivals in the area and pointed to the Windsor Essex Harvest Festival, which will take place at Fort Malden in September, as an example.

Rachel Pitre tosses a ring onto magician Bill Nuvo’s head during the Mardi Gras Street Party on Dalhousie Street on July 22. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

Rachel Pitre tosses a ring onto magician Bill Nuvo’s head during the Mardi Gras Street Party on Dalhousie Street on July 22. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

“The community needs these festivals. They come together,” Bunde said. “The sponsors that we have, they’re all so excited to sponsor these types of events. There’s great response from the community and I think everybody wants it.”

This year’s festival was sponsored by LiUNA! 625, Amherstburg Audiology and Hearing Aids, Rivertowne Dental, Joe Meloche Ford, CIBC and ReMAX.

Mardi Gras getting ready to return to the downtown streets this Friday and Saturday

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A touch of New Orleans returns to Amherstburg this weekend.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce’s (ACOC) Mardi Gras returns to the downtown core this Friday and Saturday night with the footprint being expanded this year to include the portion of Dalhousie St. from Richmond St. to Rankin Ave.

Despite that one block expansion, ACOC general manager Monica Bunde said one lane will be kept open in that block to accommodate traffic.

There will be an increased number of gates this year, she added, with three as opposed to two. The new gate will be at Rankin Ave. and Dalhousie St. with the two existing gates – on Richmond St. at Ramsay St. and one near Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 – remaining.

Friday night bands include TAP, United Snakes and One Man Out with music and entertainment getting underway at 6:30 p.m. and scheduled to last until 11:30 p.m. Saturday night’s music is scheduled to last from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. with bands being the Rustbelt Revelators, Dave Russel, White Noise and Dream Catcher.

Mardi Gras returns to the downtown core this Friday and Saturday night. Richard and Jennifer Lanoue are ready for the event. There is also a Super Sidewalk Sale during the day Saturday.

Mardi Gras returns to the downtown core this Friday and Saturday night. Richard and Jennifer Lanoue are ready for the event. There is also a Super Sidewalk Sale during the day Saturday.

In addition to those bands, some restaurants in the area will be providing their own music as well.

“It’s going to be jam-packed with music,” said Bunde. “There will be music everywhere.”

Buskers will also be featured during Mardi Gras as well. Friday night’s buskers are scheduled to be Bill Nuvo, the Stilt Guys, Silver Elvis, JoJo’s Bizarre Circus and the Vertika Pole Fitness Dancing Troupe. Included as part of Saturday night’s entertainment will be Bill Nuvo, JoJo’s Bizarre Circus, the Stilt Guys, Silver Elvis with Special Guests and Billionz Cobra.

With the roads being closed in the area the entire weekend, it allows the ACOC to present its “Super Sidewalk Sale” as well. That will run Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

“All shops will be open and we hope everyone comes downtown,” said Bunde.
The streets will be closed during the sidewalk sale so people will be able to walk the streets. There will also be entertainment for children during the sidewalk sale as well.

“The streets will be open to foot traffic so come and enjoy the downtown,” said Bunde.

Many of the restaurants within the designated Mardi Gras area will have extended patios, she added.

“I’m hearing a ton of excitement,” said Bunde. “The shops and restaurants are looking forward to it. They are all revving up for it.”

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate for both days with a weekend pass being $25 in advance or $30 at the gate. Bunde said last year’s Mardi Gras drew about 4,300 people overall with the goal this year to have 2,500 to 3,000 each night.

“We’re hoping for a few hundred more,” she said. “That would be great.”

Tickets are available at all WFCU locations in Windsor-Essex County, the Gordon House or online at www.amherstburgstreetparty.com.

Mardi Gras tickets now on sale

 

Tickets for the July 22-23 Mardi Gras are now on sale!

Get your tickets now from any WFCU Credit Union location or go to amherstburgstreetparty.com.

You won’t want to miss Essex County’s Original Mardi Gras in downtown Amherstburg!” says Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce general manager Monica Bunde.

mardi gras

Friday and Saturday tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. A weekend pass is $25 in advance and $30 at the gate.

Check out the website amherstburgstreetparty.com for more information on entertainment, buskers, food vendors and much more!

Call 519-736-2001 with any questions.

Volunteers being sought for Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The organizing committee for the Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival are seeking volunteers.

At least 250-300 volunteers are needed for the Sept. 9-11 festival and Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) general manager Monica Bunde said they have received calls already. She believes people will want to get involved and be part of it in part because it is a first-year event.

“People want to volunteer for it because it’s fun,” said volunteer co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven.

Organizers are seeking people who have been Smart Serve trained, people with backgrounds in handling money, those who wish to be greeters or sell tickets, those who prefer manual labour for the set up and take down of the festival and people who just want to help out. Smart Serve training is needed for those volunteers that will be serving alcohol or selling alcoholic beverage tickets.

Shifts will be five hours in length.

“Volunteers will receive a weekend pass for the event and a T-shirt,” said Van Grinsven.

(Image special to the RTT)

(Image special to the RTT)

All volunteers must be 19 years of age or older.

“Volunteer with a friend. It’s always more fun,” said Bunde.

There will be a volunteer orientation night Aug. 11 where people will receive their assignments, hear from police and security officials and get the information they need heading into the festival.

“It’s a very important night,” said Bunde.

Bunde added that groups of people, whether they be from workplaces to service groups, are welcome to attend and be part of the Harvest Festival.

“We’re taking all volunteers,” she said.

“The festival is really celebrating all that is local and what the region has to offer,” said Van Grinsven.

“Two organizations that have been chamber partners on this venture from the beginning are TWEPI and Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada,” said Bunde.

Those interested in volunteering can call the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce office at 519-736-2001 or e-mail weharvestfest@gmail.com.