By Stew Slater, Staff reporter
As in past years, Wellington Street North will be hopping on Friday afternoon and evening for this weekend’s 17th annual Stonetown Heritage Festival — with Nick & Dan’s Collision keeping people’s hungers in check with their charity barbecue from 4-7 p.m., and the Army and Navy club kicking off two nights worth of its Bavarian Garden refreshment and music venue from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.
The rest of the Festival, however, has been condensed into a single day, with Saturday, July 14 promising to be chock-full of top-level attractions for visitors and residents alike — some new to the Festival, others returning for return engagements.
“One of the big draws is going to be the Aerial Angels,” said Town of St. Marys Corporate Communications Coordinator Stacey Wheal earlier this week. “They’ve been (at the Heritage Festival) before and I think a lot of people are really looking forward to seeing them again.”
The all-female, Michigan-based trio of circus-style acrobats performs across North America (including a recent gig in Alaska) and is known for inserting comedy into their shows, as well as inserting unsuspecting members of the audience as guest stars.
Also returning are popular family-themed favourites like the Bennett Family’s petting zoo at Milt Dunnell Field, tours through downtown and Milt Dunnell Field courtesy of the Appleland Train, and face painting, street chalk drawing, and other children’s activities at the Town Hall, up and down Queen Street, and at Lifetime Vision Centre on Wellington Street South. Also beginning at the Town Hall, there will once again be narrated historic-themed walking tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
But it certainly won’t only be familiar faces providing the entertainment on Saturday. Wheal says Heritage Festival organizes have, as in the past, strived to bring in new attractions to keep things fresh.
St. Marys’ own Chris Brine Band will take over top billing at Saturday’s street dance, taking the Queen Street stage at 8 p.m. prior to the Festival-closing fireworks display.
At Milt Dunnell Field during the day, there will be a number of new attractions. The local YMCA is hosting a “Hit and Sit” tournament, something it describes as a “dodgeball style game — where you are down but not out!” The cost is $5 per player, with proceeds to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. Participants sign up as individuals, and there’s an hour each set aside for four different age groups: 9:30 a.m. for those aged 6–7 years; 10:30 a.m. for those aged 8-9 years; 11:30 a.m. for 10 and 11 year-olds; and 12:30 p.m. for anyone aged 12 or 13. Pre-registration is strongly recommended by contacting 519-284-2500.
Also at Milt Dunnell Field — perhaps inspired by the success of the launch last year by Stewart Books of oversized street Scrabble — there will be a series of “giant games.” In this case, it will be snakes and ladders, dominoes, target frisbee, and something called “Get Knotted,” which is fashioned on the “Twister” party game.
“I would say it’s family-oriented — for adults with their children,” Wheal commented.
“And we have a new company supplying the inflatables this year,” she added. Some of the kids-only bouncing structures will be placed on Queen Street, but the communications coordinator thinks the most popular might be a giant inflatable “rock climbing wall,” which will be at Milt Dunnell Field.
Other attractions include a display of historical St. Marys postcards at the Town Hall, Queen Street shows by mentalist Darren James at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and the Travelling Reptile Show on Queen Street — with a formal, science-based exploration of the many creatures on display at 10 a.m., and an opportunity for hands-on interaction between 11 a.m. and noon.
For full details, visit www.stmarysheritagefestival.ca.