Roots to Boots Festival just around the corner

 

By Joel Charron

Four years of planning will culminate into the biggest celebration Amherstburg has ever seen.

The Roots to Boots Festival is being held in honour of the War of 1812 Bicentennial on Aug 3-5 with entertainment and history being number one on the menu.

“This has been four years of planning and here we are,” said Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture. “The significance of this festival is really like no other. We are celebrating the reason why everyone is here today, it really was the destiny of Canada.”

There will be three stages including the General Brock stage at Fort Malden, the children’s pavilion in Toddy Jones Park and the Reynolds stage in Navy Yard Park.

Festivities kick off Aug. 3 at 1 p.m. with the arrival of the St. Lawrence II tall ship along the Navy Yard Park. Opening ceremonies and the Provincial Marine monument dedication in Navy Yard Park is at 6 p.m. and fireworks off the Navy Yard Park conclude the first day of activities. Theatre Intrigue will also present the musical “Spirit of a Nation” that night at Fort Malden at 7:30 p.m.

“Friday night is more of a ‘formal’ night as we kick off the celebration,” said Rota. “Saturday and Sunday we get into more entertainment.”

The Bicentennial Parade will kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday and march down Dalhousie St. from Pickering St. to Fort Malden. According to Rota, 12 marching bands from the United States and Canada will be in attendance.

Re-enactments will highlight the next two days as a “Skirmish on the River” re-enactment at 2 p.m. both Aug. 4-5.  Just a small sample of other activities include demonstrations and period music at Fort Malden National Historic Site, children’s activities at Toddy Jones Park, genealogy and art exhibits at General Amherst High School, cricket games at Bill Wigle Park, an HMCS Hunter “Navy Camp for Kids” at Toddy Jones Park, live entertainment throughout the festival grounds and much more.

On Saturday night, Chantal Kreviazuk will perform at Fort Malden at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show are $28 and can be purchased at the Gordon House.

The closing ceremonies Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. will be in Navy Yard Park and feature a re-enactment of Brock’s Landing.

Rota mentioned that the bicentennial is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and Amherstburg residents should take full advantage of a celebration in their back yard.

“For Amherstburg this is very real,” said Rota. “This is who we are.”

Rota also mentioned that she is very proud of the community and how they have rallied behind the bicentennial.

“It started off a little slow but things have definitely picked up,” she said. “When you look around everyone put the stickers up, everybody has flags and banners up. Employees of businesses are wearing the t-shirts. Everyone is so proud and really wants to be a part of it.”

The Roots to Boots Festival will also have over 250 volunteers at its disposal.

Rota noted the sponsors have played a “huge role” in making the festival a reality. Proceeds from the Roots to Boots Festival will be donated to Amherstburg Museums and Galleries.

Parking in the downtown core will be restricted, as streets will be closed off to accommodate the festival. The public is encouraged to use the shuttle service from in front of the Honeywell property along Front Road North supplied by Sharp Bus Lines. Transit Windsor is also shuttling people in from Devonshire Mall in Windsor.

A full event listing and festival map can be found at www.1812amherstburg.ca and the River Town Times.

“You are going to feel the history everywhere,” said Rota.

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