A festive season

By Bradford Times Staff

It used to be called the Caribbean and South Asian Showcase, a festival highlighting the culture, art,  food and music of  South Asian and Caribbean countries.

But there was some confusion, said founder Ranji Singh, whose Foundation launched the festival. It was a name that was hard to remember in its entirety, and one that didn't quite capture the full range of participating cultures, as the Showcase expanded.

Now the event has been  renamed the 'Culture Bridge Festival', said Singh, “intended to bring people together.” There have been similar festivals in Toronto and Brampton; the Culture Bridge Festival is designed to play the same role “up here,” in Newmarket. “Let's make friends up here. Let's make connections up here.”

This year's festival took place July 7-9, with an evening of music at Riverwalk Commons on Friday night, and two days of performances, food and displays at the Magna Centre, on the weekend.

MP for Newmarket Aurora Kyle Peterson  attended the opening ceremonies, and noted that Canada adopted a policy of multi-culturalism 46 years ago. Since then, the Newmarket area has welcomed residents who speak over 200 languages, contributing to the “very vibrant fabric” of the community.  MP Peterson praised the Culture Bridge Festival. “It creates an opportunity to build new relationships, and builds a caring community,” he said. “Let each one of us take the opportunity to learn from one another.”

Dignitaries at the Opening ceremonies also included MPP Julia Munro, Regional Councillor John Taylor, and the Consul General of Sri Lanka, U.L.M. Jauhar.

Taylor praised the festival as providing a way for an “incredibly diverse” community to come together. “It's a lot of fun, it's entertaining, but it's building a healthy and very inclusive community.... This is the richness that Newmarket, this is the richness that York Region has in front of us.”

There are a number of festivals coming up this summer:

Celebrate Lake Simcoe.

On July 22, Celebrate Lake Simcoe will host a significant cultural celebration at Innisfil Beach Park, in partnership with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre – to present Innisfil's first-ever Pow Wow. The day begins at 5:30 a.m., with a Sunrise Ceremony. At 9 a.m., Open Water Swimmers will enter the 1K, 3K or 5K Canaqua Sports Open Water Swim on Lake Simcoe, with new safety measures in place. At 10:30 a.m., the booths and displays by environmental, cultural, heritage and arts groups will open, including a mural painting event, plus Indigenous craft and food vendors. At noon, the Pow Wow's Grand Entry takes place, followed by Intertribal dancing welcoming the public to join the circle. Admission to Celebrate Lake Simcoe will be free, with a donation of non-perishable food for the local food bank.

Bradford Ribfest 

It's back! Bradford Ribfest returns, but under new management. Superior Events Group, a well-established amusement company, will be bringing back Ribbers and a midway to the open space beside Zehr's Market, July 27-29. It will be a family-oriented festival dedicated to bringing the best rides, music and ribs to Bradford, on Friday, July 28 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, July 29 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 30 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $3; accompanied children 12 and under are free. There will be free parking at Home Depot, 470 Holland St. West, and a shuttle bus from the Bradford Community Centre at 125 Simcoe Rd. For info, see www.bradfordribfest.net.

Steam Show!

The Georgian Bay Steam Auto Gas & Antiques Association hosts the 52nd annual Georgian Bay Steam Show at their Cookstown club grounds, on the Civic Long Weekend, August 4-7. Featured trucks and tractors: International Harvester. Come out for a daily Pancake Breakfast, from 8 to 10 a.m., live entertainment on stage, displays and demonstrations of antique and steam vehicles, including a daily parade at 4 p.m. (2 p.m. on Monday, weather permitting) – plus children's activities, a Kiddie's Tractor pull, Members' tractor pulls on Saturday and Monday, and the OTTPA Ontario Truck & Tractor Pullers Association show on Sunday, August 6, at 6 p.m. Admission $8 on Friday and Monday, $10 on Saturday and Sunday, free for accompanied children under 12. For information see www.steamshow.ca. Please – no dogs or bicycles in show area.

Heritage Music Festival

Shelburne's Heritage Music Festival runs from August 9 to 13, kicking off with a Barn Dance on Wednesday. Thursday features The Fitzgeralds, Friday – Fiddle Contest Playdowns, starting at 10 a.m., followed by headliner, Juno award winner Corb Lund. Saturday's events include a parade, Shelburne's own “Elvis”, Dustin Bricker; and the Fiddle Contest Finals on Saturday night, with entertainment by The Barrel Boys. On Sunday, join Pastor Gord Horsley for a non-denominational Church Service, with music by the Masters Four. For details see heritagemusicfestival.com. Note: Tickets for Corb Lund are $45, available online, or call 519-925-3037.

Alliston Potato Festival

The 44th Annual Alliston Potato Festival takes place August 11, 12 and 13 – including a Potato Festival Parade on Friday night at 7 p.m., leaving from Banting Memorial High School; Beer Garden, Midway and activities at the Fairgrounds, and a street festival and classic car show on Victoria St. on Saturday.  On Sunday, performances at the Fairgrounds include K9 Dog Sport Performance team, Magical Duda,  and a Baby Show at 10 a.m. (entry fee $5, pre-register up to 9:45 a.m. on Sunday). See www.allistonpotatofestival.com for details.

Bradford Carrotfest

This year, CarrotFest  is expanded into a 2-day street festival, not only celebrating Bradford West Gwillimbury's Agricultural “roots”, but the Sesquicentennial. Watch for details.