APPLE SEEDS:  Small town festivals - big town fun

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APPLE SEEDS:  Small town festivals - big town fun



Summer…  Hands down my favourite season – for multiple reasons.

I like it hot…  (combine that with some rain, and my farmer genes are jumping for joy)

I like it sunny … I like vacation time…  I like baseball games….  I LOVE FESTIVALS.

Summer is festival time.  You can find any number of festivals from June to September, but unless you have experienced a small town festival, you have missed an opportunity for one of your summers’ potential highlights. 

Tweed achieved national notoriety when in 1989, the Ottawa branch of the Elvis Sighting Society declared Elvis was alive and well and living in Tweed, 12 years after his reported death.  A Toronto Sun reporter actually investigated the rumours. 

Twenty-seven years later, that rumour is still whispered among residents and visitors to the tiny hamlet. 

I am sure you agree that Tweed is the perfect spot to host a Tribute to Elvis Festival.   As a qualifier for the Ultimate ETA (Elvis Tribute Artist) contest held in Memphis, the weekend draws performers from all over the globe.  2016 was no exception, with 23 pro and non-pro artists competing.  (2016 Winner – Oliver Steinhoff from Germany).

I wasn’t a rookie to this Elvis Fest, so I knew that once I found “my spot”, I could park my lawn chair and there it would remain for the duration of the weekend.  (yeah, seriously – our row of six lawn chairs were left in the park for three days/two nights). 

I am fortunate to have family in the area, but for $50, you could move your trailer in for five nights camping on site. 

The music was fantastic.  We were treated to several renditions of Suspicious Minds, American Trilogy and Way Down to name but a few.  The selections were as varied as Elvis’ repertoire, from soft ballads to classic rock and roll, leaving the crowd “All Shook Up.”  The senior and youth competitions gave us a myriad of Elvis' to enjoy.

As the 23 were whittled down to the 10 left standing and ready to compete in Sunday’s final, you could feel the competition ramping up, with every ETA ready to bring it.

What I found undeniably appealing was the sense of comradery the performers felt with each other, in spite of the rigours of competition, and with the crowd.  They laughed and mingled, and when not performing, grabbed a lawn chair and enjoyed the show. 

Where else can you look to the left, look to the right, and spy not one, not two, but many shocks of black hair, gold glasses and jumpsuits. 

Sunday’s Gospel Hour (performed by all willing ETA without any sense of competition) showcased the friendship and support these unique performers share as a brotherhood.  

Programs were autographed with pizazz, the bestowing of the classic silk scarf anticipated as the lucky ladies crowded to the stage, or mingled in the crowd.

Giving so much more than three days and nights of entertainment, this small town opens its arms to residents and visitors alike.  The classic car parade, parking lot BBQ and party at the local legion, Elvis songs ringing through the streets as you wander in and out of the downtown shops. The Mayor, (her worship, Joanne Albert) can be found as a willing volunteer for ticket selling.

We live for the weekends, and before you know it, the calendar is crowded with notes, and those 12 weeks have slipped by without warning.    (www.festivalsandeventsontario.ca is a terrific resource to help plan your experiences).   

Even though the summer is waning, it’s not too late to enjoy local festivals… Trenton’s Scottish Irish Festival is right around the corner. 

According to urbandictionary.com  a ‘small town’ by definition is 200-800 citizens within limits. A regular ‘town’ has between 800 and 7000 citizens.  I had no idea there was actually a difference, and as far as I am concerned, the line is blurred, so I am sticking with my original small-town reference. 

I am lucky enough to live in Quinte, (Belleville and Quinte West, both defined as ‘small cities’ with 20,000 – 100,000 citizens within limits) surrounded by small towns, each with their own personalities, attractions, and if you’re paying attention, a festival.

 

READ Timmy’s – Elvis and a Double Double Take – telling the tale of the face-to-face with the King in Tweed’s Tim Horton’s.

Read More: Opinion, Apple Seeds, Quinte

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