‘Most Amazing Strawberry Festival Yet’ to Focus on Canada 150
Memorial Park to be at the centre of the fun as organizers prepare for crowds in excess of 35,000
Stouffville’s Motus O Dance Theatre will perform their original production, ‘From Fair and Wide O Canada’, based on 150 years of fairs and festivals in Canada, throughout the day on July 1.
There will be plenty of fun for the kids throughout Memorial Park at the Strawberry Festival July 1 and 2.
By Jill McWhinnie, Stouffville Free Press.
It’s show time as the 33rd Annual Stouffville Strawberry Festival gets set to take over Memorial Park and the Downtown area with Canada’s sesquicentennial setting the tone.
“This Canada Day weekend Whitchurch Stouffville will celebrate Canada 150 with the most amazing Strawberry Festival yet,” said Festival co-chair Nancy Matheson. A significant change this year is the relocation of all the festival vendors, normally found on Main Street, to Memorial Park. “We wanted to make the change this year as in 2018 Main Street will be under construction and everything will be in Memorial Park,” added Nancy. “Also new this year – the vendors will be at the Festival on both Saturday July 1 and Sunday July 2.”
However, there will still be lots happening in Downtown Stouffville during the Festival. “Main Street will be closed on Saturday July 1 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.,” said Downtown Co-ordinator Tina Sharma. “There will be a sidewalk sale which will give our Main Street merchants the opportunity to engage Festival goers. The Cool’n Classic Car Show will take place from 11 a.m. 4 p.m. Those attending the show will be invited to vote for their favourite car, and the winning vehicle will receive the People’s Choice Award. Whistle Radio will play Canadian music in honour of the nation’s 150th birthday on Main Street throughout the day.”
Opening ceremonies will be held Friday June 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Marquee, where the Stouffville Sun Tribune Citizen of the Year and Sportsperson of the Year will be announced.
Then the musical fun begins with the kick off in the Marquee of the Made in Canada Music Party, featuring Canadian music performed by talented local artists. The York Regional Police Male Chorus will lead off with the Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah, with the John Stinson Band providing a tribute to quintessential Canadian singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Other local artists include Mike Burns, Sam Chefero, Marion Drexler, Andrew Heathcote, Jonathan Ison, Bruce MacNeil, Don Maitland and Tom Pullin. Best of all, this event and all other performances at all festival locations are entirely free.
On Saturday July 1 the program is jam packed. “Mayor Justin Altman, MPP Helena Jaczek and MP Jane Philpott will be serving up the Pancake Breakfast starting at 8 AM at Latcham Hall,” enthused Nancy. Kids will have lots to do at the Kid Zone on the baseball diamond. When it’s lunchtime festival goers can visit Food Street (aka Burkholder Street) where food trucks serving up a variety of menu items can be found both Saturday and Sunday.
The Town of Whitchurch Stouffville will present a Canada 150 program beginning at 5:30 p.m. on July 1 at the Band shell in Memorial Park. A highlight will be dance troupe Motus O’s performance of From Fair & Wide O Canada in its 60 foot round tent. After dark, a spectacular Town-sponsored fireworks display will put the finishing touch on Canada’s 150th birthday.
Festival fun continues right through Sunday July 2. An Ecumenical church service, a Festival tradition, takes place in the Marquee at 9:30 a.m. followed by a Strawberry Social in Memorial Park at 11 a.m. The Festival wraps on a high note in the Marquee with the Home Town Country BBQ, featuring some great local country music talent including The Marshall Dane Band, Amber-Jo Bowman, and Ben Hudson.
Starting at 6 p.m. in the Marquee, the Meat Merchant and Vince’s BBQ will be serving ribs, chicken, burgers and more. There will also be a corn roast by the Stouffville Baseball Association.
Picnic tables for dining have been placed outside the Marquee. “We’re hoping people will take the opportunity to
share the table, sit, mingle and get acquainted with fellow townsfolk,” said Nancy.
The scale of the Festival – 35,000 attended last year – and the additional logistical planning related to the move off Main Street required Nancy, co-chair Ker–Yng Pang and the Festival committee to begin planning this year’s Festival almost immediately after the wrap up of the 2016 event . “We haven’t stopped!” Nancy laughed.
She said she and her co-chair rely on approximately 100 volunteers who are co-ordinated by portfolio managers. New volunteers are always welcome. The importance of the Festival’s sponsors and vendors can’t be overlooked, she suggested. “Without them there would be no Festival.”
“The Strawberry Festival is a great event,” concluded Nancy. “Let’s embrace it. Let’s love it. Let’s cherish the sense of community created by it, especially in this wonderful year of Canada 150!”