festival

Amherstburg Soccer Club hosts ECSL soccer festival

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The fields at Larry Bauer Park were busy on the weekend as the Amherstburg Soccer Club hosted players, coaches and parents from around the area.

“This is our annual festival we are hosting for the ECSL (Essex County Soccer League,” explained Amherstburg Soccer Club (ASC) president Terry Sawchuk. “This year we had 48 teams between U8, U9 and U10. That is phenomenal. Soccer keeps growing.”

The ASC’s travel program, the Amherstburg Fusion, fielded three teams with the U9 team playing Saturday and the U8 team and the U10 team taking the pitch Sunday. Teams from across Windsor-Essex turned out as well to Larry Bauer Park, located in front of the Libro Centre. Games went off rain or shine.

Sawchuk was thrilled with not only the overall turnout, but the amount of girls that participated.

“I love to see more girls playing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s boys or girls, it a game anyone can play.”

The Amherstburg Fusion U10 team (white jersey) competed in the rain Sunday morning against Belle River in ECSL soccer festival action at Larry Bauer Park.

The Amherstburg Fusion program has roughly 150 players overall while the co-ed house league program has just over 400. There are about 40 players in the girls-only house league division. That brings overall ASC membership to around the 600 mark, with Sawchuk stating it is the largest youth sports organization in Amherstburg.

With the World Cup being this year, Sawchuk added it always translates into increased interest in the sport locally.

ECSL festivals take place across the county from around early-May to the end of August, said Sawchuk. He added that Fusion teams are also hitting the road for tournaments, including a large one in Sarnia in mid-July.

Sawchuk thanked the volunteers for helping to present the weekend tournament and also thanked the Town of Amherstburg. Town staff helped prepare the soccer pitches once they were finally able to get onto the fields after a lot of rain earlier this year.

“Obviously, it’s a partnership with the town to make them look this way,” said Sawchuk.

Coaches and parents also praised the ASC, noting that games went off on time and the fields were well prepared.

New festival coming to Amherstburg this August

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg’s tourism department was so pleased with the results of last year’s “Canuck it Up!” Festival that it is now adding another August festival.

“Amherstburg Uncommon” will be held Aug. 3-5 and while tourism officials aren’t officially disclosing details until the March 19 town council meeting. In the meantime, they have received $23,350 under the province’s “Celebrate Ontario” grant program to help plan the event.

“We saw the application for the Celebrate Ontario 2018 grant as an opportunity to bring another large-scale event to Amherstburg,” said manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota. “Amherstburg Uncommon festival is hosted in Amherstburg but we see this as a large regional event.”

Even though the town has received the provincial grant, Rota said they will still be seeking corporate partners and sponsors as well as budgeted funds for the event.

“Definitely, our goal is to boost business for the downtown merchants and all businesses in Amherstburg,” she said. “Everyone knows Amherstburg is rebranding itself and positioning itself as wanting to attract new business and new investment. A great way to do that is through growing our attraction portfolio. By strengthening our festivals and events, we enhance the visitor experience therefor increasing attendance. People spend more money and we hope it leads to job creation.”

There will be a “symposium” for business owners to learn more about the festival and other 2018 events March 27 at the Libro Centre. Two meetings are planned with business owners invited to either the 8 a.m. meeting or the 3 p.m.

“We encourage all business owners and stakeholders to come out,” said Rota, “not only to find out about the new event, but everything relating to tourism and culture for the year.”

The “Amherstburg Uncommon” event will be “inclusive,” said Rota, adding that “people are going to be able to take part.”

“This will be a very family-friendly event,” she continued. “Receiving the grant makes us feel comfortable the Ministry of Tourism and Sport recognizes the potential of this new event.”

Local businesses hit record sales during Canuck It Up weekend

 

By Jolene Perron

 

With the Canuck It Up Festival bringing in approximately 80,000 people through the town, local businesses are speaking out about the benefits to their sales.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture for the town of Amherstburg explained they use a “square footage/people events formula” for free events and customer count in the businesses and museums to come up with their total number of people who visited the town.

“It was an opportunity to showcase what a magnificent, walkable, historic town we have,” said Rota. “People also commented on the accessibility of our town for special events. They appreciated that the programming was easy to get to and that it was worth the trip.”

Owner/operator of Gilligan’s Fire Grill, David Hayes, said August is usually his slowest month of the whole year, but this year is a completely different story.

“This weekend was the busiest three days I have ever had in the three years I have owned the restaurant,” Hayes said in a statement to Rota. “Visitors came in from out of town for the festival and said they will be returning for the food and the town in the future.”

Large crowds not only came to town for the Canuck It Up! Festival, but they also kept local businesses and restaurants busy.

Large crowds not only came to town for the Canuck It Up! Festival, but they also kept local businesses and restaurants busy.

The Waterfront Ice Cream Parlor had very similar results. After hearing about the numbers expected, and preparing by stocking up on ice cream, cones, spoons and napkins which took over their home, Jen and Justin DeLuca said they had a line up which stretched across the street and to the canons at the waterfront.

“It was very busy,” said Justin. “It was the busiest weekend we have ever had in our 38-year history. The tourism department in the town of Amherstburg really nailed it. They did a great job.”

The couple explained their staff, past and present, worked tirelessly over the weekend and “did a phenomenal job.” Even their 6-year-old and 9-year-old daughters were picking up napkins and cleaning tables.
Around the corner, Gabriel’s Deli had a line-up for four straight hours on Saturday.

“Saturday was unreal,” said owner Abe Elsayed. “I did enough sales for a week, just on Saturday. Sunday was a little bit slower, but overall the weekend was a success. I think I did well, everyone did well down here. I think we need more of this. People loved it.”

It wasn’t just the food businesses that saw the benefits of the festival. Shirley Wigle, owner of Our Place, said whenever a festival comes to town in the downtown core, the businesses along that stretch often see an significant increase.
“Our Place did very well, the festival was great,” said Wigle. “Whenever they do a festival and they don’t charge to come to the downtown core, we all do wonderful. The people can come through, they come through with their families, and it’s great. We did very, very well. Any time they put the barriers up, but they don’t charge people to come into the downtown core, we do awesome.”

Rota said given that this was Amherstburg’s signature event for Canada’s 150th birthday, the town has a lot to be proud of. From the people, to the businesses, the gardens, and the collaboration overall, we are “the little engine that could, and a force to the reckoned with.”

“Amherstburg is known for large scale events and between the hard work that comes from the volunteers and the support from various departments within the town, we come together and just gel to produce an authentic experience for our guests,” said Rota. “We treat our visitors like guests and they love it. Of course there are always some hiccups but planning in advance and checks and balances are key. We can build on that momentum to strengthen economic impact and a great place to want to live and do business in.”

 

Thousands come to Amherstburg to “Canuck It Up!”

By Ron Giofu

 

The Civic Holiday weekend’s “Canuck It Up!” Festival downtown and the accompanying Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event at Fort Malden National Historic Site brought large crowds to Amherstburg.

Nicole Bertrand of Amherstburg takes a selfie with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck Sunday afternoon.

Nicole Bertrand of Amherstburg takes a selfie with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck Sunday afternoon.

The town was hopeful for 40,000 people and estimates exceeded that, with Amherstburg’s tourism department believing they may have at least doubled that amount.

Despite the large numbers, the festival didn’t always run smoothly thanks to winds and associated damage from the wind. The heavily hyped World’s Largest Rubber Duck failed to inflate on Saturday due to winds and minor damage caused during an attempted inflation, causing many to be disappointed and angry. Town officials and volunteers fielded complaints and social media was abuzz about the deflated duck, but things turned around Sunday when the duck was repaired, inflated and ready to go.

The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps march down Dalhousie St. to Toddy Jones Park where they played a Canada 150 concert.

The Diplomats Drum & Bugle Corps march down Dalhousie St. to Toddy Jones Park where they played a Canada 150 concert.

“We redeemed ourselves today,” Rota said Sunday afternoon.

While disappointed about the duck on Saturday, Rota said there was still a lot to do as the West Coast Lumberjacks performed, bands played in Toddy Jones Park and Navy Yard Park, a children’s area proved popular and the events that took place at Fort Malden.

“People were just happy to be in Amherstburg,” said Rota.

The tall ship Appledore V was also late arriving due to wind gusts, but did make it to Amherstburg Saturday night in time for an evening re-enactment at Fort Malden. The ship was in town courtesy of Parks Canada.

“I’m seeing a lot of new faces,” Rota said Sunday afternoon.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo tries log rolling during one of the West Coast Lumberjack shows.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo tries log rolling during one of the West Coast Lumberjack shows.

Vendors were running out of food and she said outdoor patios at downtown restaurants looked to be doing well.

“There were so many activities,” she said. “Every square inch of the (Navy Yard) park, Fort Malden and the new waterfront site (at Duffy’s) had something for everyone. I believe everyone loved coming out to the events.”

Rota called it “a great team effort” by staff and the over 200 volunteers the two-day event had.

“We couldn’t do it without being a team,” she said.

Two of the recipients of Canada 150 medals that weren't in attendance Canada Day got them on Canuck It Up! weekend. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (centre) presented medals to police chief Tim Berthiaume (left) and Sandra Braendle.

Two of the recipients of Canada 150 medals that weren’t in attendance Canada Day got them on Canuck It Up! weekend. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (centre) presented medals to police chief Tim Berthiaume (left) and Sandra Braendle.

Rota added the event was well received overall and “I can see the town of Amherstburg doing something of this magnitude again.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreed the town bounced back after Saturday’s problems.

“It was a lot of disappointment and I think that was more than reasonable,” said DiCarlo. “It was difficult to see all the kids disappointed. If anyone was more disappointed than me, I’d be surprised.”

Some people were more upset than others, the mayor added, but noted it was a weather-dependent event.

“As soon as we could, we got it up,” he said. “It’s great to see it up.”

DiCarlo said Sunday afternoon he has been receiving positive feedback and most people were “very positive.”

The World's Largest Rubber Duck emerged from overtop of the trees Sunday as people looked west from Richmond St.

The World’s Largest Rubber Duck emerged from overtop of the trees Sunday as people looked west from Richmond St.

“Duck or no duck, we put on an amazing event,” said DiCarlo. “There was a lot happening. It was an extension of our Canada 150 celebration.”

People got a chance to meet each other and “have a great time in Amherstburg,” the mayor added.

“I think the event was an absolute success,” he said. “We really have to thank the people in our tourism department. They got a lot of support from volunteers. They pulled off an event this big with a small department. I think it’s amazing the kind of people we had in Amherstburg.”

Log cutting competitions were part of the West Coast Lumberjack show.

Log cutting competitions were part of the West Coast Lumberjack show.

Allan and Rose Clemens came out to the festival and took pictures near the duck Sunday morning. The Elmira couple said they were not aware of the issues the day before and loved what they saw Sunday.

“We’re actually renting a cottage in Oxley and we came here to see the duck,” said Allan.

“I love it,” added Rose. “It’s fun.”

Diane Bradford of LaSalle said she came with family Saturday but returned Sunday when the duck was inflated.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “We came here yesterday but came back today to see the duck.”

Donna Gorrell of Amherstburg said Saturday it was very busy but “it’s nice to see this many people in town.”
Gorrell said her children were hoping to see the duck but were understanding of why it wasn’t erected that day.

“They understand,” she said. “It’s windy.”

The roar of the cannons joined the firing of the muskets during one of the re-enactments at Fort Malden.

The roar of the cannons joined the firing of the muskets during one of the re-enactments at Fort Malden.

Gorrell added she was excited to see small businesses open and welcoming customers during the festival hours.

Ivan and Christine Ouellette came in to Amherstburg Saturday and Ivan said they were disappointed the duck wasn’t blown up. He said that was the first place they went to but were going to walk around and see what else was going on.

“We’re kind of disappointed the big duck is not blown up but that’s OK,” Jennifer Marshall said Saturday afternoon. “It looks like there’s a lot of other stuff to do.”

Kathy Hay added Saturday that she was not disappointed in the least, saying it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves in Amherstburg.

“I think it’s something we can definitely use. It really puts Amherstburg on the map,” she said. “I don’t see anyone too disappointed.”

For the most part, people were happy at Fort Malden National Historic Site as well. Roughly 7,000 people attended the Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event.

“It was a huge success for us,” said Fort Malden team leader Corrine Ross. “The battles were well attended. A lot of people from all over Ontario visited.”

Rhythm of a Nation performed in the parkette.

Rhythm of a Nation performed in the parkette.

Ross added that there were a lot of people who reacted to the battle re-enactments and many were engaged by what they experienced.

“For us, it was a huge success,” said Ross. “We’re very happy.”

Elizabeth LeBlanc, public relations and communications officer with Parks Canada’s Southwestern Ontario Field Unit, was also happy with the weekend’s festivities at Fort Malden.

“I think we had a phenomenal weekend,” she said.

Kingston Gardin rings the bell aboard the Appledore V tall ship.

Kingston Gardin rings the bell aboard the Appledore V tall ship.

LeBlanc said she believed many were re-visiting Fort Malden for the first time in a few years. The 7,000 attendance figure compared favorably to last year’s Military Heritage Days, which drew just under 1,000 people.

“Participants had a wonderful time,” said LeBlanc. “It was a super-positive experience.”

The Appledore V tall ship added to the weekend and although the Bayside, Michigan vessel was late, “we were just thrilled that given the winds and weather that we started the weekend with, they were able to participate in the battle Saturday night.

Crowds pour through Navy Yard Park Sunday to see the World's Largest Rubber Duck and the other attractions.

Crowds pour through Navy Yard Park Sunday to see the World’s Largest Rubber Duck and the other attractions.

“They were a huge hit on Sunday,” LeBlanc added.

LeBlanc said the general admission is still free to Parks Canada sites and responded to complaints over the $1.90 fee by saying it was due to enhanced programming and helped to cover costs over and above what is usually offered at Fort Malden.

“I don’t think we could have had a better weekend,” LeBlanc concluded. “It’s great to partner with the town of Amherstburg.”

To see more photos from the busy weekend, visit our Facebook album.

Canuck It Up shuttle bus location changed

There has been a change to a shuttle bus location for the Canuck It Up Festival coming Aug. 5-6.

The town has switched one of the locations from the Libro Centre to Centennial Park. As there is ongoing construction on the Meloche Road project, town officials have decided to switch that location and have people picked up at Centennial Park if they want to take a shuttle bus to the downtown festival.

Canuck It Up logo

The second location remains at the former Honeywell property.

Admission to the festival is free. A canned good or non-perishable food item will accepted at the gate for the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

For more on the Canuck It Up Festival lineup, visit www.amherstburg.ca/canuckitup or www.facebook.com/Amherstburg Connection.

Fort Malden National Historic Site is also presenting its Raiders, Rebels and Redcoats event that same weekend.