Players get their rocks off at a street curling attraction at a Brooklyn, NY street fair. SUPPLIED

“Street curling?” Read on

Summerfest’s genesis was in the summer of 2011, advocated by the Pelham Active Transportation Committee as a single-day event to raise the spirits of the locals, and celebrate the completion of pedestrian-friendly downtown streetscaping in Fonthill after a long period of road reconstruction. Fast-forward to 2022, and Summerfest has emerged from a two-year pandemic shutdown as a four-day festival (July 14-17) which includes music, entertainment, plenty of food and drink, and good times for all ages.

The event last ran in 2019, and welcomed some 30,000 attendees, 65 vendors, and 30 bands. The festival was recognized in 2020, for the sixth year in a row, as a Festivals & Events Ontario (FEO) Top-100 event. Some 1,200 hours of volunteer time supported the event.

Summer Thursdays in Fonthill’s Peace Park, with local produce and goods available at the Farmers’ Market, plus the Supper Market and music, have been added to the attractions. On Summerfest Thursday, at 7:30 PM, the Fonthill Bandshell will be rocking to the sounds of Simply the Best: a Tina Turner Tribute, to kick things off.

The free Kid Zone, always popular with the younger crowd on the Saturday and Sunday, has been expanded for Summerfest, and the festival will feature the first appearance of a new roadshow highlighting the sport of curling, through a “street curling” activity which should have broad appeal.

Kid Zone entertainment includes returning favourites such as the Mad Science Fun Station, stilt walker Shaun Ferguson, the high-velocity Pelham Fire firehose, and numerous inflatables.

Several acts are new this year.

The Strong Water Singers, a collective of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women from across Niagara, use drumming and singing as a means of achieving wellness, strength, and unity. The group calls the Fort Erie Native friendship centre home.

Another new act is Djoléï Justine Gogoua, the founder and former artistic director of the group Arts Bassan. Gogoua has toured the country combining song, dance, theatre, storytelling, humour, spoken word, and African drumming in her performances. Originally from the Ivory Coast, she has lived in Canada for 27 years and is now in North Bay with her family.

Kids will delight to the Cascade Festival Supersized Puppet Show, featuring larger-than-life performing puppets.

Peter Mennie is a family-friendly comedian and magician who has been amazing people and making them laugh for some three decades, say organizers. His show is a blend of comedy, illusion, audience interaction, and music.

Scoop McCoy is another magician familiar to many in Pelham, and will bring his high-energy act with plenty of audience participation.

Interactive street curling demonstrations will take place on Pelham Street, courtesy of Curling Ontario, which is running a summer long-program, travelling from community to community every weekend to create greater awareness of the sport. The Welland Curling Club has partnered with curling clubs in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls to bring the roadshow’s 40-foot long rink to Summerfest on the Friday and Saturday.

Matt Botden is the board president at the Welland Curling Club, and one of the organizers of the effort to bring street curling to Summerfest.

“It’s a no-ice curling system developed by a company called Rock Solid Productions,” said Botden. “Our provincial association has bought two of these units, which are seven feet wide and 25 feet long. Over the years, Summerfest has done a wonderful job on the Kid Zone, and the street curling adds an appeal for teenagers and young adults.”

University students proficient in curling provide instruction.

“Curling is a big deal in Canada, and places like Scotland, Switzerland, and in Scandinavian countries,” said Botden. “To be an Olympic sport, you need to have a broad base of countries competing. Rock Solid, which promotes curling worldwide, has made it one of their goals to educate the masses about the sport, even taking the game to beaches in Rio de Janeiro.”