Visitors pack Pelham Street in Fonthill on Saturday, July 16 2022. BOB LOBLAW

It was almost as if time stood still and the last two years were but a receding dream. After being cancelled in 2020 and 2021, Summerfest came roaring back last weekend, drawing tens of thousands of visitors eager to get out into the sun and enjoy some community spirit.

On Saturday afternoon the weather could hardly have been better, with a baking sun occasionally tempered by a light breeze. Nearly 50 vendors ran the length of Pelham Street between College and Highway 20 and down Pelham Town Square. This year the main stage was set up in front of Town Hall, allowing for a bit more audience space. Thirty-plus performers entertained, including on two busker stages and in the Bandshell.

The hungry had their pick of pizza, poutine, gyros, and hot dogs, as well as various grilled gourmet items and charcuterie. Niagara Region parked a drinking water truck behind Town Hall, where a long line of parched festival-goers waited to fill their bottles. Across the way, the Pelham Fire Department’s own use of water was placed into, under close supervision, the hands of kids tasked with dousing a target with a blasting fire hose. All miraculously succeeded.

The farthest-away visitor that the Voice encountered hailed from Sault St. Marie, down visiting family, while Port Colborne, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Welland were all well represented. About half the crowd consisted of young families. The occasional pack of ice-cream-licking teens in oversize sunglasses and board shorts weaved around slow-poke toddlers, septuagenarians in Tilley hats, and other such obstacles.

Fonthill Rotary sold T-shirts and collected donations for the new Arches, the pieces of which were dropped at Fire Station 1 last week, in preparation for their installation above Pelham Town Square in time for the Canada Summer Games bike races, to be held in Pelham in mid August.

By the end, says the Town, well over 30,000 visitors would come through over four days, but by late Saturday afternoon the crowd was starting to thin, a brief lull in the action before rowdier fans would arrive en masse later in the evening, primed to knock back a beer or five, toes-tapping to one band after another, forgetting—momentarily, anyway—two and a half years of stress and anxiety, with more inevitably to come, and instead focusing, if a touch blearily as midnight approached, on good music, and good food, and good company, on a warm summer’s evening in a rural haven blissfully removed from the world’s present and many perils.