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Barrie Waterfront Festival


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Northward Bound…

It’s back to Barrie. This time we are headed for the Barrie Waterfront Festival. Rather than take the 400 series highways, we opted to take the back roads. This was the Victoria Day weekend and we wanted to avoid long line up and traffic jams! Besides, the indirect route to Barrie can be very interesting. The main alternative route to Barrie is Hwy. #11, which is actually an extension of Toronto’s Yonge Street. We joined Hwy #11 just north of Newmarket. Hwy #11 took us through crowded Bradford and then north through all the small towns and villages that are located along the highway. After Bradford the traffic was light and there were no problems along the way. Once we reached the outskirts of Barrie, we had to concentrate on finding the Festival. The Barrie road system is complicated, so if you are not sure where you are going you can get lost. Fortunately I had driven in Barrie several times before so I had a pretty good idea where I was going. The Festival was located right in the downtown area. I followed the shoreline of Kempenfelt Bay to the downtown intersection, Bayfield and Dunlop. This is where the Barrie Festival was taking place. We found a convenient parking spot close to the west festival entrance. In no time we had joined the festival crowd…

A Walk Down Main Street
(Dunlop Street that is!)

The Waterfront Festival a number of great components. Each is designed to attract and entertain visitors. One of the most important elements of the festival is the music! The festival features a variety of musical “genres”. Bands we strategically positioned along Dunlop Street so that they didn’t interfere with one another. As we entered the west end of Dunlop Street, we encountered our first band. We stood, with others, and listen for quite some time. The group was great and everyone enjoyed the music! From here we continued east on Dunlop Street, passing several food and merchandise booths. Part way along we came to the Enbridge Family Stage. The Toronto All-Star Big Band was playing “Opus 1” when we arrived. A crowd was gathered around the stage listening to these young musicians perform. Several feet were tapping in time to the music. Near the Family Stage, Adidas had set up a challenge booth. They asked if Judi would like to take the challenge! Judi said she would participate and took the test. She failed! She chose the competitor’s shoes (Oops!!). The Adidas booth was located next to Memorial Square. As Judi was taking the challenge, I walked over to the edge of the Square to investigate. The gardens on the top part of Memorial Square were in full bloom. Below they had set up a Midway and the main stage. The whole Square overlooks scenic Kempenfelt Bay. Once Judi was through the Challenge, we continued our trek along Dunlop Street…

Clowns, Food and More Music…

As we left the Adidas Challenge, we met and talked to “Doo Doo The Clown” and his assistant. Doo Doo was due next and the Family Stage to entertain the kids. I mentioned to him that I was visiting the Toronto International Circus Show the next day. He told me that a friend of his was one of the organizers. After talking with Doo Doo we continued down Dunlop Street. There was a variety of booths to look at, Sno Cones, Tiny Tom Donuts, jewelry, hats and ribs (the eating kind!). The retail shops very interesting too. There a lot of really fun shops to explore! Barrie is a wonderful city to visit any time of the year. Along the way we were able to listen to a number of different bands. We walked to the east end of the festival and then started back. At the Memorial Square we detoured south to take a look at what was happening in the Square. A Midway of inflatables and scary rides had been set up there along with a number of games of skill. Also in the Square was the Memorial Square Stage, sponsored by B100.FM and CHAY 93.1FM. The Stage was being set up for the afternoon and evening performances. The line up for Sunday was “Groove Corporation”, “Zedhead”, “Dr. Draw” and “God Made Me Funky”. We continued to explore Memorial Square, watching the workmen set up the stage and looking out at Barrie’s harbour front. A number of boats were tied up at the pier including a large cruise boat. From the Square we headed back down Dunlop Street towards our car. Our last memory of the Barrie Waterfront Festival was the band that was playing at the end of the street!