Amherstburg Farmers Market opens for 2018 season

By Jonathan Martin


Bouts with rain, wind and cool temperatures didn’t keep shoppers away from the Amherstburg Farmers’ Market’s opening day.

Saturday’s 2018 season opener “satisfied” Rita Casagrande, one of the organization’s market managers.

Despite often rainy conditions at the opening day of the Amherstburg Farmers Market, people were still in good spirits. (RTT Photo by Jonathan Martin)

“It’s rained every opening day (for the past five years),” she said.  “So, we’re right on schedule there.  I wish it wasn’t raining, but we’re here till October, so we have a lot of sunny days ahead of us.”

Casagrande is also a vendor at the marker.  She sells homemade cookies and cakes.  She said her items were selling despite the increment weather, so she was “happy.”

Steeve Bouchard is another vendor and one of the founding members of the market.  His family business, Bouchard Gardens, deals in both horticulture and agriculture.  He sits on the board, a three-person team, with Casagrande and his wife, Cynthia.  He said at its peak the board boasted a five-person directorship.  The organization is small, but Bouchard said that’s all they need.

“This event pretty much runs itself,” he said.  “Our loyal customers keep us going.  They always have.  We’re grateful to them.”

Christopher Chevalier pets
a rabbit at the Amherstburg Farmers’ Market’s opening day
last Saturday. (RTT Photo by Jonathan Martin)

The market hosts a variety of vendors, ranging from locally-caught fish to hand-crafted jewelry.

The Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society was also on-site, selling its flowers.  There were pony rides, live music, drinks, foodstuffs, artisanal crafts, produce, baked goods and even a little bunny who liked to be pet.

The Amherstburg Farmers’ Market will run every Saturday from now until Oct. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Malden Community and Cultural Centre, located on County Road 20 at the foot of Howard Ave.

Rotary Ribfest has requests approved, looking for 2019 location


By Ron Giofu


The 9th annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest is returning to Centennial Park July 6-8, and the town is offering some help to organizers in presenting it.

However, the Ribfest committee is seeking additional help from the town in securing a location for next year’s event.

Carl Gibb and Laura George, both members of the Rotary Ribfest committee, appeared before town council and had the first two of their requests granted. Town council agreed to waive the fees for use of the park and also will allow them to use nine sign posts for 28 days prior to the event instead of 14 days, as stated in the town’s sign bylaw.

The latter was a point of concern for Councillor Joan Courtney, who worried the town would be setting a precedent. She suggested three weeks prior to the event instead of four, but the Ribfest committee members said they had four weeks for the sign posts last year.

Gibb said they have been looking for a 2019 location, as this year will be the final year at Centennial Park due to a portion of it being sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board for a new public high school. Gibb said they need approximately four acres and have yet to come across a suitable site.

“Council has to decide whether they want it or not,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer suggested the Libro Centre, stating there is room for festivals there, but Gibb said part of the attraction of Centennial Park is it has fencing. Fencing costs rise three times if it is moved to any other site, he said.

CAO John Miceli said the fencing and track will be removed from Centennial Park as condition of sale with the Greater Essex County District School Board. He said he will work with Gibb and the committee to try and find a suitable location. He added there are 178 acres at the Libro Centre that can still be developed.

Local relatives to help four-year-old Michigan girl



By Ron Giofu


Four-year-old Addy Weith may live in Hudsonville, Michigan but she has plenty of support in Amherstburg.

Addy is suffering from mitochondrial disease, also known as Leigh Syndrome. It is a severe neurological disorder characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities. The disease typically results in death in two to three years after diagnosis due to respiratory failure.

Addy’s mother Lisa is an Amherstburg native with her grandmother Mickey DiNunzio and great-aunt Heather Amlin organizing local efforts to try and help the Weith family, which also consists of Lisa’s husband Eric and Addy’s twin sister Norah.

DiNunzio said her daughter noticed about two years ago that Addy was “not developing as fast as the other twin” and that led to medical visits to see what was wrong. Two spots were discovered on Addy’s brain and the diagnosis came shortly after.

Eric and Lisa Weith hold their twin daughters Norah and Addy. (Submitted photo)

A fundraiser is planned in Hudsonville Aug. 5 from 4-7 p.m. but efforts are being made in Amherstburg to send a group of “Addy’s Angels” to the fundraiser. A local event is being planned for June 10 at the Columbus Community Hall on Richmond St. to help pay for the bus that family members in Amherstburg will use to take to the fundraiser.

The Amherstburg event will run from 12-4 p.m. with information on bus tickets available as well as door prizes, silent auction items and food being on hand. The local event is being dubbed as a fundraiser for “Addy’s Mitochondrial Journey Bus” and tickets are $20.

“We’re trying to do something locally in Amherstburg,” said DiNunzio.

“We’re getting the Canadians and Americans there as one big family,” added Amlin.

DiNunzio said they don’t know how much time Addy has left but Amlin pointed out that palliative care has been suggested for when the time comes. Amlin added the fundraiser in Hudsonville is a way to create positive memories for Addy and her family.

A package is being distributed locally describing the fundraisers and why they are being held. A letter from the family inside the package describes Addy as a brave fighter who loves books, blocks, baby dolls and “anything that involves getting messy.”

“She runs, jumps and plays with her twin sister Norah. She loves pre-school. She is always excited to go, even when she is too sick to attend,” the letter states. “She loves Daniel Tiger and Pete the Cats.”

The letter further states that “Addy’s most recent MRI shows her disease is progressing. We have known it was a possibility but we have prayed it would not be true.”

Mickey DiNunzio plays with grandchildren Norah and Addy Weith in Navy Yard Park. Fundraisers are now being planned for Addy, who has mitochondrial disease. One of the fundraisers is June 10 in Amherstburg. (Submitted photo)

Amlin and DiNunzio compare Addy’s condition to that of a cell phone battery. While Addy will have tremendous energy for a few days, she can quickly find her energy and strength depleted shortly thereafter.

The disease could shut down Addy’s muscles so the family is also looking at such things as wheelchairs and ramps.

“You don’t know what part of the body it’s going to go after,” she said.

For more information, e-mail or People can also call Amlin at 519-713-9293.

Amherstburg Community Church hosting upcoming events


Amherstburg Community Church (ACC), located at 125 Alma St., is hosting three upcoming community events.

ACC is hosting “ALPHA – Explore Life’s Big Questions – Faith, Identity, Meaning…” Sunday nights.

Alpha is an opportunity to explore life, faith and God in a friendly, open and informal environment. The talks are designed to be engaging and inspire honest conversation. They explore the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christianity, addressing questions like “Who is Jesus?”, “Why and how do I pray?” and “How does God guide us?”

Amherstburg Community Church is hosting Alpha starting Sunday, May 6 from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Contact the Church Office for more information. RSVP 519-736-5644 or by e-mail at For more information on Alpha, visit

The “Alpha” program begins at Amherstburg Community Church May 6.

Amherstburg Community Church will also be hosting “An Evening of Fashion with Friends” Friday, May 25 at 7 p.m. It is sponsored by ACC and L.A. Treasures with fashion by L.A. Treasures from Essex. There will be a guest speaker, refreshments and door prizes. Admission is a free will donation.

For information or to RSVP, call 519-736-5644 or e-mail

ACC is also hosting “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” with sessions starting May 6 and continuing May 13, 27 and June 3. Sessions run from 6:30-8 p.m. at Amherstburg Community Church. For information, call 519-736-5644.

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage DVD captures all the fun and facts of Mark Gungor’s view on life, love, and marriage
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage helps couples deal with tough marriage issues that is fun and non-threatening unlike many traditional seminars. Couples will laugh, learn and be able to make real, positive changes to their marriage.

Amherstburg Community Church’s website is

Town to take over River Lights Winter Festival



By Ron Giofu


The River Lights Winter Festival is now going to be run directly by the town.

While a volunteer committee oversaw the festival for its first decade in existence, the town will now take it over after the request was made by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce. According to a report from manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota, River Lights draws over 20,000 people annually to the downtown core and the volunteer committee has raised over $550,000 for the festival.

“Administration has met with the Chamber and its subcommittee on a number of occasions related to the above request. The basis for the request lies in the limited ‘go forward’ capacity, in terms of resources, of the Chamber to continue to deliver the festival,” Rota stated in her report.

There are 109 displays that are being transferred to the town, valued at approximately $100,000, with the River Lights committee also having about $25,000 cash in the bank and $25,000 in investments. Rota’s preliminary forecast for 2018 calls for $70,000 in revenue and expenses totalling $65,000.

The River Lights Winter Festival drew an estimated crowd of 28,000-30,000 people in 2017-18.

The town historically has committed $5,000 under the approved base budget “however, if event costs are covered by revenues from third parties and the town is directly operating the request, no further town contribution may be required,” Rota wrote.

Rota added the parks department labour costs have traditionally be donated in-kind. The 13-member volunteer committee, she added, would be interested in continuing to assist.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she supported the request.

“It’s the only way we can keep it,” she said. “We have to agree to take on the project.”

CAO John Miceli said he believes the festival will be enhanced. Miceli was questioned by Councillor Leo Meloche as to whether this will be a line item in the budget, and Miceli answered in the affirmative.

The River Lights has been named a “Top 100 Festival in Ontario” eight times by Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO).