Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island

Numerous local events, festivals and sites of for TWEPI “Best of Windsor-Essex” awards



By Ron Giofu


A number of Amherstburg sites, events and businesses have been nominated for Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) awards but they need the support of the public to win them.

The Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest has been nominated in the “Best Local Festival – Food & Drink” category but people have to vote for them online at

The Ribfest is in its ninth year and committee chair Carl Gibb said the idea originated from current Rotary Club president Dan Hunt. As many as 15,000 people have attended in some years with the hope this year being for 20,000 people.

“It feels good to be recognized,” said committee member Laura George.

George said the Ribfest is evidence that good things happen when people work together. She added the

Gibb said this year’s festival, planned for July 6-8, will see the committee “ramping up the food choices and entertainment level.” Proceeds from the Ribfest will be put towards “a major project for the town.”

Over 150 volunteers are needed annually for Ribfest. Those interested in volunteering for this year’s Ribfest can contact George at 519-982-2684.

The Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest is one of the Amherstburg-related business, festivals, sites or organizations up for a “Best of Windsor-Essex” award.

Other nominees include a former winner in the Gibson Gallery. The Gibson Gallery is nominated in the favourite art gallery or art space category. Art by the River is nominated in the Best Local Festival – Arts category. In the Best Local Festival – Community Holiday Event category, the River Lights Winter Festival is one of the nominees.

There are two Amherstburg nominees in the Best Museum/Heritage Space category. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum and Fort Malden National Historic Site are up for that award. Fort Malden is also nominated in the Best Local Attraction – Historical category and the Best Photo Op category, with Navy Yard Park also being nominated for the latter.

The Fort Family Fun Centre can be voted for the Best Family Friendly Attraction.

Nominated in the Best Cultural or Heritage District category is the Amherstburg historical district. The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce received a nomination in the Best Shopping District category.

An “Art of the Cocktail” nomination went to Wolfhead Distillery while Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery received a nomination in the Best Local Winery category. Maria’s Restaurant was nominated in the Best Breakfast category while the Best Burger section saw Gilligan’s get a nomination.

Three pizza restaurant chains with Amherstburg locations received nominations in the Best Pizza category, with those including Armando’s, Capri and Naples.

The River Canard Canoeing Company was nominated in the Best On the Water Activity category while the King’s Navy Yard Park received nominations for the Best Picnic Spot and Best Park/Garden awards.

Wildwood Golf & RV Resort and Willowood RV Resort each received nominations for Best Cottage and Best Campground with the latter also having Holiday Beach nominated.

Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering is up for Best Sandwich Shop while the Bondy House is up for Best Bed & Breakfast.

Voting is underway and runs through March 11 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be announced by TWEPI April 17. People can only vote once per e-mail.

Tourism stats on the rise, TWEPI officials tell county council



By Ron Giofu


Tourism statistics are on the rise in Windsor-Essex County, according to representatives from Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI).

TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, vice president of tourism programs and development Lynnette Bain and director of marketing and special events Kris Racine appeared before Essex County council last Wednesday night. They pointed out the area won the Ontario Culinary Tourism Experience award last year, as well as the Motorcities National Heritage Area’s Award of Excellence in Tourism. TWEPI was a finalist for the Ontario Culinary Tourism Leadership Award.

Launched in 2016 was the Barrels, Bottles and Brews Trail, the waterfront trail on Pelee Island and a regional tourism committee.

Orr pointed out TWEPI has modified its logo to be similar to the Canada 150 logo, launched a new website ( to promote local Canada 150 events and the hashtag #WE150. He added their “Plenty of Reasons” campaign continues to promote the region’s attractions.

Lynnette Bain, Gordon Orr and Kris Racine from TWEPI addressed Essex County Council at the May 17 meeting.

Lynnette Bain, Gordon Orr and Kris Racine from TWEPI addressed Essex County Council at the May 17 meeting.

Bain noted they received a $30,000 grant from the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership as well. They are increasing their marketing presence and that includes social media in both Canada and the United States. She said they are doing a digital targeting campaign to attract more visitors. She also cited WDIV-TV in Detroit as being one of the many partners they have in the United States to attract visitors.

Bain said after news stories aired on WDIV about winery and cycling tours, TWEPI immediately got calls stating there was a jump in business.

“Channel 4 has been very good to us,” she said.

The 2017-18 marketing plan focuses on pillars such as arts and culture, outdoor adventure, food and drink and entertainment. Growth from 2015 to 2016 included a 4.85 per cent jump in hotel occupancy in Windsor-Essex, an $8.56 jump in the average daily room rate and a 3.97 per cent increase in American residents entering Canada.

There has also been a 32.9 per cent jump in “unique visitors” to TWEPI’s website – – from 2016 to 2017 with social media statistics climbing as well.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara thanked TWEPI for its help during last year’s AMO Conference, noting the area’s “best kept secrets” are coming out in the open.

“More people are taking advantage of them,” said McNamara, adding the area’s volunteer base is strong as well.