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Bowmanville Maple Festival
and All That Jazz

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Smoke and Flames…

On Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 I was listening to the news on my radio. The item that caught my attention was that firemen were battling a major fire in the downtown section of Bowmanville. Later a friend of mine e-mails me a photo display of the fire and the firemen fighting it. I couldn’t believe the amount of smoke and flames shooting out of the tops of the buildings! Coincidentally, Judi and I had been planning to visit the Bowmanville Maple Festival on the upcoming weekend. A few days later, I wondered if the festival would still be held as scheduled. I went onto the Internet to see if I could find the latest news on the festival. Much to my surprise and delight, I read that the festival organizers were going ahead with their plans for the festival! So, on Saturday morning we got up early and headed west to Bowmanville. After getting off Highway 401, we headed north to County Road #2 (formerly Hwy 2) and then travel west, passed the Bowmanville Zoo, towards downtown Bowmanville. The road through the downtown had been closed for the festival. We took a side road and started to look for a convenient parking spot. It took us a while, but we finally found a spot reasonably close to the event. Fortunately it was a fairly mild day and the walk to the festival grounds was quite pleasant. The road we were walking on took us right to the middle of the festival (Good planning!!). Just before the main road, the Bowmanville Lions Club had set up a large Pancake Breakfast area, cooking tent and covered eating area. There was long line up, but this would be our first festival stop!

All That Jazz…

After breakfast we started to walk down the main street towards the west. Our first stop was in front of the Bank of Montreal building. In front of the building a Jazz ensemble had set up and was entertaining a small audience with their music. We stayed and listen for a while and after they had finished their selection we continued on our journey. During our walk, we could have purchased popcorn from a boy who was raising money for a trip; we could have had our faces painted to look like mountains lions or we could have selected potting supplies from The Potting Bench’s sales table! On the other side of the street we saw the effects of the fire that damaged three businesses. The middle building had already been torn down while the other two buildings were boarded up. There was a sign on the middle building announcing that we should “Watch for Lange’s Grand Re-Opening”! This was a testament to the resiliency of the people of Bowmanville. Moving forward there was much more to see and listen to. More musicians, this time it was the Swing Street Band. We stopped and listen. There was still more to see, an antique outboard motors booth, a kid’s inflatable ride, a booth selling maple syrup products and a Tae Kwan Do demonstration put on by kids. Close to the Tae Kwan Do demonstration, another band was performing. We keep on walking until we reached the western end of the festival. Sports fishermen had set up a casting area where people, especially children, could try their casting skills. There were volunteer instructors there, teaching the children proper casting techniques. You could see the concentration and joy on the faces of the children as they learned new skills. You could also see the joy and satisfaction on the faces of the instructors! We turned around and headed back up the street…

The Return Trip

It’s amazing how much more you see on a return trip! The crowds of the Bowmanville Maple Festival seemed to be growing as we wound our way through the crowds and vendors. We were passing the spot where the fire took place and I saw that a table had been set up requesting donations for the victims of the fire. Many lost all their personal possessions in the fire. Across from the fire area a booth had been set up with a Bowmanville Heritage display. Right next to this booth was a booth promoting the town’s 150 anniversary and all the events and activities that were going to take place to celebrate this major milestone! Walking eastward we passed two children’s game, a “duck pond” and a “fish pond”! Then there were the “sweet” booths, ice cream, fudge and donuts. Enough to drive a person to distraction! There was a police officer patrolling the festival on his bike. A Bowmanville fire department truck was on display, shinning in the sun, fresh from its heroic efforts! Pressing forward we passed a street performer and his assistant. They had just finished their act and were packing up. Now we were at the end of the festival street and had to turn around and head back. This time we walked on the north side of the street. We watched the kid’s pony rides with proud parents either walking beside their daughter or son or snapping photos as they rode along! We were once again tempted by the maple syrup products, especially the maple donuts! We walked by little kid trying to play miniature golf. The clubs were taller then they were! This was a festival that appealed to young and old alike, made better by the spirit of the town’s residents and the festival organizers. As we walked back to our exit, I decided that it was now time to try something new, something different then before…

Something New…

A friend of mine asked if I had ever thought of videoing any of the festivals we visited. I told him “no”, but that I thought it was a great idea. It seemed to me that it would be an excellent extension of what we were already doing and would give our site a new dimension. The next festival we were visiting after my friend’s suggestion was the Bowmanville Maple Festival. This would be a great place to start something new! I switched the dial mode on my camera to “movie”. We had just entered the Midway section of the festival. I thought it might be interesting to video some of the rides and the people in them. The first ride I videoed were the Scrambler and then the kids’ Turtle Train. After the rides we walked through the Midway, passing the games of chance. Then it was back out onto the main street. Judi and I followed the crowd. As we walk, I videoed the people and the vendors. I even videoed some of the buildings that had been damaged in the fire! Our final video was of the “Swing Street Band" performing “This is the start of something big”. We stayed and videoed for some time. I am fairly happy with the process and the results, although I managed to cut myself short a few times! I am sure time and experience will improve my video clips, and who knows, maybe a “You Tube” video is in our future!

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