Chris Gibb

Harvest Festival this weekend, ticket sales going well

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival is this weekend and organizers are reporting “very good” numbers in terms of ticket sales.

The festival runs Friday through Sunday at Fort Malden National Historic Site and organizing committee co-chairs Chris Gibb and Aldo DiCarlo state that things are coming together.

“We think Saturday may be a sell-out,” said Gibb.

The number of people on the grounds at Fort Malden will be capped at 6,000 at any one time. DiCarlo, also the town’s mayor, said tickets should be purchased sooner rather than later to ensure there are tickets available for the day people want to go.

While there will be no shuttle bus service at the Harvest Festival, Amherstburg Taxi and other area taxi companies will be on site to transport people home if they need a ride, Parking will be available at the Honeywell site and people can walk or cab from there if they choose.

“We’ve got cabs from all around the county,” said DiCarlo.

Roads will be closed in the immediate vicinity of Fort Malden during the festival, including Fort Malden Dr., Dalhousie St. from North St. to Fort Malden Dr. and Laird Ave. from Elm St. to North St. Gibb stated those roads are being closed in the interest of public safety and to ensure residents in that area won’t have a lot of cars in the immediate vicinity of their homes. Those residents will be given full access to that area during the three days, Gibb added. The exact hours of the closures has been announced by the town as 3 p.m.-midnight both Friday and Saturday and 12 noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

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While it is known that at least one person from Texas plans to attend the Harvest Festival, DiCarlo said the focus is ensuring things get set up and are properly running for those in attendance regardless of where they come from.

Tickets are on sale at the Gordon House but also at WFCU locations in Windsor-Essex County and through the web either at www.weharvestfest.com or at www.ticketscene.ca. Gibb said people from across the region are purchasing tickets.

“Everyone knows Amherstburg knows how to throw a good party,” said Gibb.

All entertainers are local to Windsor-Essex County and DiCarlo believes that to be a great selling point.

“The entertainment is a great lineup,” he said. “I’ve heard most of them and I think there are some great choices there. I just love the fact they are all local.”

Currently scheduled for the opening night are Kelsi Mayne, the Crystal Gage Band, Buck Twenty and Ashley Lynn and the Spurs as it has a pop and country theme. Saturday night entertainment includes mainstream artists such as Claudia DiNatale, Transeo, the Funk Junkies, the Sarah Smith Band, and Greatest Hits Live while Sunday’s entertainment has vocal and instrumental artists like Joan Charette Quartet, Double Barrel and Jorge Miguel scheduled.

The event is Feast On and Bev On certified, meaning that at least 50 per cent of the culinary tastes are sourced from local ingredients, with tasting tours and Feast On and Bev On tours scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Sunday will be a family day with youth and children 18 and younger permitted on the grounds as long as they are with a paid adult.

Taste artisans for the weekend from a food perspective include Blackjacks, Bistro 42, Butchers on the Block, Kingsville Golf & Country Club, Koi Sushi, Oropomodoro Pizzeria, Smashed Apple Catering, The Vines and Wheely Scrumptious. Beverage artisans include Aleksander Estate Winery, Brew Microbrewery, Colchester Ride Estate Winery, Colio Estate Wines, Coopers Hawk Vineyards, Frank Brewing Company, North 42 Degrees Estate Winery, Oxley Estate Winery, Paglione Estate Winery, Pelee Island Winery, Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, Walkerville Brewery and Wolfhead Distillery.

Gibb and DiCarlo also pointed out that the new electronic wristband system can see patrons load their wristband with money from their credit or debit card to avoid lines and purchase food or drinks quicker. There will also be a social media component with the wristbands so patrons can “check in” from the Harvest Festival right from their wristbands.

“People don’t have to worry about unspent tokens,” said DiCarlo, adding the money that goes unspent can be refunded electronically to the purchaser.

People can also download the “EatDrinX” app on their smartphones. That app will assist people in finding the taste artisan of their choice and the menu items they want to try.

Gibb added each person who attends will be able to receive a souvenir mug.

“It’s something you will remember for years,” he said. “I think people will be impressed with it.”

Those who wish to volunteer can still do so by visiting the Harvest Festival’s website or by calling 519-736-2001.

“We could always use more but we’re really floored with the support we’ve received,” said Gibb.

Hours are Friday 4-11 p.m., Saturday12-11 p.m. and Sunday 12-6 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate for Sept. 9-10 with the Sunday being $15 in advance and children 18 and under free with a ticket-holding parent. A weekend pass is $60. For more information or to volunteer, visit the website, their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weharvestfest or follow them on Twitter @WeHarvestFest.

Harvest Festival organizers gearing up for Sept. 9-11 event

 

By RTT Staff

 

The Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival is fast approaching and plans are starting to fall into place.

The event is Sept. 9-11 at Fort Malden National Historic Site with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) helping to organize the event. Co-chairs Chris Gibb and Aldo DiCarlo indicate the Harvest Festival will help keep Amherstburg as the focal point during the second weekend of September.

“The mayor approached the chamber about saving the weekend for Amherstburg,” said Gibb. “He recognized what needed to be done and stepped up and did it.”

Gibb said the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival worked hard to build up their event and when they were not able to put it on again this year, DiCarlo approached the chamber about doing something that weekend.

DiCarlo, who is trying to keep his duties as mayor and committee co-chair separate, said he approached the ACOC due to a belief that something else could be created elsewhere.

“The weekend really was open. It was built up for ten years,” said DiCarlo. “It was clear if we didn’t do something, someone was going to pick it up. I contacted the group I knew who could pull (another event) off.”

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The wine festival was credited for their work, with organizers using much of the same ideas they had in terms of set-up and infrastructure but adding different twists to it for the Harvest Festival. The event is not an official “town event” and is being done with the blessing of the wine festival committee.

Organizers are “cautiously optimistic,” said DiCarlo. Wristband technology will allow patrons to “load” a monetary amount on it and swipe it with the bill going to the credit card of the patrons’ choice. Gibb noted that will eliminate the need for tokens with DiCarlo noting that every wristband will be associated with a specific person.

The festival will also have “Feast ON” designation, meaning that at least 50 per cent of the culinary tastes are sourced from local ingredients. The weekend will feature both “Feast ON” and “Bev ON” tours throughout the three-day festival.

“That (Feast ON) designation is not easy to get, I’m told,” said DiCarlo, noting the organizers had help from Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) in obtaining the designation.

DiCarlo added “it makes perfect sense to me to showcase everything we do” and noted the wineries, craft breweries and distilleries, such as Wolfhead Distillery, bring strong local components to the table including locally-grown crops used in creating their products and local materials used in processing them.

The local flare spills over into entertainment, “which we are proud of,” said DiCarlo.

“What was most important to us was to gain local people and that all entertainment is local,” he said, with local meaning from the Windsor-Essex County area.

Currently scheduled for the opening night are Kelsi Mayne, the Crystal Gage Band, Buck Twenty and Ashley Lynn and the Spurs. Saturday night entertainment includes Claudia DiNatale, Transeo, the Funk Junkies, the Sarah Smith Band, and Greatest Hits Live while Sunday’s entertainment has the Joan Charette Quartet, Double Barrel and Jorge Miguel scheduled.

Gibb said Saturday night is getting close to the 6,000-person sell-out mark.

“We are very impressed with the ticket sales so far,” said Gibb.

Seminars from “taste artisans” and “beverage artisans” will also be featured as part of that weekend. A list of taste and beverage artisans can be found at www.weharvestfestival.com. As the festival gets closer, patrons will also be able to download a “EatDrinX” app on their smartphones. That app will assist people in finding the taste artisan of their choice and the menu items they want to try.

Menu items are not yet finalized, said DiCarlo, and they will be once it is known what the “bounty of Essex County” is come harvest season.

Fort Malden is getting in on the act, doing live demonstrations and are even developing their own beverage with hops being grown right on the grounds.

“It’s kind of a cool, unique idea,” said Gibb.

“(Fort Malden) didn’t want to make it a passive venue for the event. They are very excited to partner with us,” said DiCarlo.

Hours are Sept. 9 4-11 p.m., 12-11 p.m. Sept. 10 and 12-6 p.m. Sept. 11. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate for Sept. 9-10 with the Sunday being $15 in advance and children 18 and under free with a ticket-holding parent. A weekend pass is $60. Tickets are available online at www.weharvestfestival.com, at any WFCU location and at the Gordon House.

“By the time it’s done, I think it will be a good example of what can happen when people work together,” said DiCarlo.

For more information or to volunteer, visit the website, their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weharvestfest or follow them on Twitter @WeHarvestFest.

Town agrees to road closures for Sept. 9-11 WE Harvest Festival

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has given the green light for road closures around Fort Malden National Historic Site for the upcoming Windsor-Essex Harvest Festival.

The festival is planned for Sept. 9-11 with the weekend road closures to include Laird Ave. from Elm St. to North St., Fort Malden Dr. from Laird Ave. to Dalhousie St. and Dalhousie St. from Fort Malden Dr. to North St.

Chris Gibb, speaking on behalf of the WE Harvest Festival committee, said the road closures will help relieve congestion around Fort Malden and ensure pedestrian safety. While residents would be let into the areas, the committee wants to minimize the number of vehicles around those streets.

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Volunteers would man the gates and allow residents access to their homes, he stated.

“It’s our hope that this event will attract 8,000 to 10,000 people to Fort Malden over the weekend of Sept. 9, 10 and 11,” said Gibb.

Councillor Diane Pouget expressed concern with the plan, stating there are seniors in that area who could have to walk farther to get to their homes. She also opposed waiving fees, which council ultimately agreed to do, as the committee didn’t ask for that.

“I think we are opening up to be precedent setting,” she said. “This organization didn’t ask for this. I feel we are going too far.”

Clerk Paula Parker addressed an insurance question from Councillor Leo Meloche by stating the Harvest Festival is not an official town event but insurance is needed due to the road closure.

“All events on town property need an insurance certificate,” said Parker.

The fee for the road closure that was waived is $224.78 for each of the three days.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo declared conflict during this portion of the meeting and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale assumed the chair.

Outgoing economic development director hired by ETR and Morterm Ltd.

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s outgoing economic development director is heading for a new job with Essex Terminal Railway (ETR) and Morterm Limited.

ETR and Morterm announced Tony DeThomasis will join the firm as director of corporate development, effective Sept. 8.

“We see great opportunities for growth in providing seamless logistics services to the region and beyond,” said Terry Berthiaume, president and CEO of ETR and Morterm. “Tony’s experience and talents will assist our team to grow and expand our business.”

Director of economic and community development Tony DeThomasis addresses the business owners at a public meeting on parking in February. He is leaving for a new job with Essex Terminal Railway.

Director of economic and community development Tony DeThomasis addresses the business owners at a public meeting on parking in February. He is leaving for a new job with Essex Terminal Railway.

“My 13 years at the Town of Amherstburg has given me tremendous experience in strategic planning and the opportunity to build excellent working relationships in the community and around the world to help my region succeed. I am excited to make the transition to ETR and Morterm and I look forward to working with the great team already in place,” said DeThomasis, in a press release.

DeThomasis declined to comment last week on his departure from the town, except to say he is leaving for a “great opportunity.” His final day with the town is Friday.

Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) president Chris Gibb said the ACOC is disappointed to learn DeThomasis is leaving the town of Amherstburg. Gibb said DeThomasis has been instrumental in landing private investment for the town and his office has also played a significant role in securing government grants.

“From what I understand, Tony is very good at writing grants and getting money into town,” said Gibb.

Noting the restructuring plan that council is expected to receive at an in-camera meeting in mid-September, Gibb said the ACOC wants to see the position or a position similar retained. Gibb added the Chamber has “a lot of respect and confidence” in CAO John Miceli and his abilities but hope the restructuring plan Miceli brings before council has an economic development component.

“I guess we’ll have to see what he presents to council,” said Gibb. “From a Chamber of Commerce perspective, we want to make sure the town is keeping a focus on economic development. We think it’s an important position.”

The town is gaining momentum with a series of downtown developments, he believed, and wants to see that continue.

“There is a lot of growth that is happening in Amherstburg and it’s a shame to take our foot off the gas when we are starting to make traction,” said Gibb, noting the most recent announcement of Dan Gemus purchasing the former Amherst Hotel. “Once you get that excitement and get that attention, it will attract them like moths to a flame.”

The ACOC believes council and administration need people to guide them and help bring in economic development to town.

“I don’t think people realize how competitive it is to get investment and get funding for a municipality like this,” added Gibb.

Pointing out he is not speaking for DeThomasis, Gibb said he believes a previous notice of motion made at council could have played into DeThomasis’ departure. The motion to “phase out” DeThomasis’ position was eventually withdrawn after council received legal advice but Gibb speculated whether that issue played into DeThomasis’ decision to leave.

“I wouldn’t want to work with a target on my back,” said Gibb, adding he wasn’t surprised that DeThomasis is leaving.

Miceli told the RTT last week that he has no current plans to advertise for the position, citing his restructuring plan.

“Until I do that, I am not going to be advertising (the position),” Miceli stated last week.