Two local festivals amongst the Top 100 festivals in Ontario


Top100_2009_2col 2010By Ron Giofu


A pair of local festivals have returned to the list of the Top 100 festivals in Ontario.

The Shores of Erie International Wine Festival and the River Lights Winter Festival have been named to the list put out by Festivals & Events Ontario (FEO).

“We are so excited that both Shores of Erie and River Lights festivals have been ranked in the Top 100 festivals of Ontario,” said Karen Gyorgy, who is chairperson of the wine festival’s organizing committee and administrator for River Lights. “As we compete with over 3,000 festivals in Ontario, this is such an honour!”

Kelly O’Rourke, festival director with the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival, said it was the wine festivals eighth year in a row on the Top 100 list.

“It’s very prestigious and we’re very excited to receive it again,” said O’Rourke. “It helps us with our marketing and grant writing to be part of this elite list.”

The awards for the two festivals show the importance of volunteers, Gyorgy added.

“These festivals just do not happen on their own. They take months of planning and certainly a small army of dedicated volunteer committees and administrative leadership in both festivals,” said Gyorgy. “We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of volunteers. The hard work of committees and volunteers make it happen.”

O’Rourke added that there is still a strong group of volunteers from the original  wine festival – roughly 75 – that are still there.

“They stay,” she said. “They love it.”

Gyorgy added the two events are separate from one another yet both made the list.

“They are totally different events,” said Gyorgy. “You have to send all the kudos to the volunteers that make these things happen.”

On the River Lights perspective, she added that Dave Varney of Sunset Enterprise and Welding has been vital towards the creation of the illuminated displays.

“All of the displays are quality,” she said. “I find he’s done just an incredible job. Without him, there’s no River Lights.”

Preparations are continuing for this year’s Shores of Erie International Wine Festival and that includes the Lobster Fest, scheduled for April 12 at the Libro Centre.

“Tickets are flying,” said O’Rourke. “It’s wonderful to see. They are going fast.”

The event gives people the choice of a 1.5-pound lobster or prime rib and potato plus salads, bread and dessert for $60. O’Rourke pointed out that also includes a Sunday ticket to the wine festival.

“It’s neat to be able to bring these things to the town,” she said.

Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture, said her department was pleased with the news.

“We would like to congratulate the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival and the Amherstburg River Lights Winter Festival for this distinguished award. Often through letters of reference and support in filing grant applications and submissions, marketing through our social media sites and other services we provide,  the tourism and culture division works together with stakeholders to make Amherstburg one of the best areas for attractions in this region!” said Rota.

Rota believed tourism provides an economic boost to the town.

“There is no question that festivals and events bring new or returning visitors to our community. Visitors generally take in other attractions, eat in one of the many fine restaurants, fill up their gas tanks or make other purchases before they return home,” she said.

Rota also thanked the town’s volunteer base and noted this year’s tourist guide is due out soon.

“We have to thank the incredible and strong volunteer base of this community and organizers who work very hard to bring a sense of place and spirit within our community,” said Rota. “So many of the festivals and events are a catalyst for some great spinoffs in terms of important community causes and passion for the arts. Look for the 2014 Community Guide due out in a couple of weeks and check out what the various committees and cultural attractions of Amherstburg have in store for you!”

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