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Mississauga Waterfront Festival

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Mississauga Waterfront Festival Re-visited…

It was a little after 5:00 pm and I was driving east on Lakeshore Road. I had just left Burlington and the Sound of Music Festival. I had promised Patti Jannetta Baker, the Mississauga Waterfront Festival’s Event/Artistic Manager that I would try to re-visit the Festival this year. After I had parked my car, I walked to the festival grounds. Judi and I had visited this festival two years earlier and thought it was one of the best events we had attended that year. Going back this year was not a disappointment! Two years ago we had visited the event during the daytime. This year I was there in the evening. I was looking forward to comparing the differences. After I had entered the grounds, I walked the park's familiar walkways. Although the park felt the same, I knew that much had been done to make the Festival the best ever! After touring most of the grounds, I headed to the main stage area. This was where most of the evening activities were going to take place. The Spoons were already performing in front of a large crowd. I made my way up to the front of the stage to listen to the band and to take photographs of them. As I was standing at the side of the stage I caught a glimpse of one of the Festival's special guests. It was a familiar face, one that I had met over 35 years before! I was a young man then and Mayor Hazel McCallion was still Mayor! She was the Mayor of Streetsville back then! Because of the time, I thought that I had missed the opening ceremonies. Fortunately, for me, the ceremonies had been delayed. After the Spoons had finished their set, the dignitaries were called to the stage. Patti Baker took the microphone and welcomed everyone to the Mississauga Waterfront Festival and then introduced Mayor McCallion. The Mayor gave the audience one of her famous inspirational speeches! Everyone in the crowd loved it and her! Other dignitaries followed the Mayor, each praising the Festival, its organizers and all of the volunteers. Once the stage had cleared, the next band was announced. This time it was the Skydiggers. They were fantastic! Even though the rain had started to come down fairly hard, the crowd stayed to listen to the music! It was fun to watch as the audience swayed to the music! At the end of their performance I decided to leave and make my way home. It had been a long day and I was soaked to the skin! I had had a great evening at the Mississauga Waterfront Festival. My visit confirmed my belief that this was one Ontario’s best festivals.

Mississauga Here We Come…

It’s another beautiful warm spring day. We are off to the Mississauga Waterfront Festival but first we have to travel through Toronto. We listen to the traffic report on the radio and decided that our fastest route would be to take the Don Valley Parkway to the Gardiner Expressway and then head west to Mississauga. It’s great traveling through downtown Toronto when there is little traffic. You get to enjoy all the great sights of Canada’s largest city… the Royal York Hotel, the Air Canada Centre (Maple Leaf Hockey), the Rogers Centre (Blue Jays Baseball) and the CN Tower (World’s tallest free standing structure). Traveling further on the Gardiner reminded me of gentler days in Toronto when kids could go all summer to the Sunnyside Amusement Park and couples could dance the night away at the Palace Pier. Then we were off the Gardiner Expressway and onto the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way). We passed Hwy 427, Dixie Road, and Cawthra Road and then, came Hurontario Street. This was our exit. This was Judi’s childhood area; from Hurontario we took a residential road westward until we came to Stavebank Drive. Judi grew up on the street and had traveled every inch as a child. We passed her old house (took a photo) and continued south until we came to Memorial Park. We had arrived at the waterfront festival. Unbelievably we easily found a parking spot. Taking our folding chairs and water bottles, we were off to the festival…

The Festival Awaits…

We walked down the ramp to the park area. At the bottom of the ramp was the festival entrance. The cost of the festival (all weekend, all events) was $15 each. We could have purchased tickets before the festival (on-line or at participating merchants for $13 each. The cost for seniors and kids was $10 each. We were greeted by volunteer staff that took our money, banded us and gave us a festival program. Once through the gate we entered a panorama of activities! The entire park, and it’s a good sized one, was full of people, tents, rides, animals and much more. Running throughout the park are concert sidewalks. We started to follow the first one we came to. First we came to a climbing wall. People, mainly kids, were climbing up the wall with very little effort. Just watching them made me sweat! We moved along the path and came to a children’s play area. It was great, because they had set up building facades around the front parameter. From there in was on to the petting zoo. Most of the petting zoos we have seen we full of domestic animals. This zoo had some of those, but featured a number of exotic (to Canadians) animals… such as “a Patagonian Cavy, a Bennett Wallaby, a Capybara and a Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig. Needless to say this exhibit was extremely popular with the kids. And then we went to the dogs!!

 “Who Let The Dogs Out…”

Right beside the petting zoo we heard a lot of barking. We walked over to investigate. There we found a roped off area with a layout of lined up poles, hoops, tunnels and hurdles. It was an obstacle course for the Purina Pro Plan Dog Star agility competition. As we approached the enclosure one of the trainers had her dog practicing the course. Judi and I were amazed at the agility and speed of the dog. We decided to stay and watch the event. As we were setting up, more dogs came out to practice. It was going to be hard to decide which dog would win the competition! Finally one of the owners of McCann Dogs (trainers of the dogs) came to the centre of the course and told us what was about to happen. She described the course and what the dogs had to do to win the competition. There was a lot of excited barking in the background. Now it was the dogs turn. And they came out in all their glory. Each star was individually introduced. There were small ones, medium size ones, large ones, a VERY large one and a pig. Fred, THE PIG, is a trained Pot Belly Pig who stole the show. Each dog and pig took its turn running the course. It was so exciting and fun that we forgot to find out who the winner was. It really didn’t matter. After the show all the dogs (and pig) came out whooped it up… too much excitement for one day. We decided to cool it down and headed for the Mississauga Future Star singing competition.

 “Let The Competition Begin…”

We left the dogs (and Fred) and started following the concrete path. Tents and food trailers lined the path. It was lunch time so we decide to have a bit to eat. My pork souvlaki was excellent. While we were eating we heard music emanating from just north of us. It was the Mississauga Future Star singing competition. The music stopped and an MC announced that there would be a 10 minute break while the judges decided who would be the top ten contestants. We ate up and walk north towards the main stage. We set our chair (yes, we brought our own… we’re becoming festival wise!) and waited for the announcement. Finally the MC came on stage and told us who the ten finalists were. The finalists were called to the stage area so that they could perform again. One by one they came onto the stage and sang for the audience and judges. It was difficult to choose who was best, but the judges had to decide on the top three. After a short wait, the MC announced the names of the 3 finalists. Each finalist again came on stage and sang. These kids were great! Anyone of them could have been the winner. The judges, however, had a job to do and choose the lone male as the winner. Hans Munoz was the deserving winner and received a cheque for $2,000. A great start for a rising young star. To think he just shared the same stage as the legendary Tom Cochrane who wowed the crowd the night before and with the talented singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, who was performing that night. With the contest over and the cheque presented, it was time to move on. So much to see and so little time!

Bouncing High…

Leaving the main stage area, we walked back towards the centre of the park. There were a lot of activities to take in. A man on walking stilts was juggling wooden pins. People were having fun playing mini golf. A safe boating booth where you could take the "Boat Smart Exam”. An inflatable cage where kids were jumping for joy! There was a long line up for this one. I was amazed at the number of well known companies participating in the festival. Companies such as Budweiser, Pizza Nova, RBC, Home Depot, Sirius and Caldwell Banker were adding to the family atmosphere of the festival. Too many companies, really, to name them all. Once we had reached the middle of the park, we saw a man bouncing high in the air! We were just in time to see the Skyriders Trampoline Show. The trampoline performers started off with simple routines and ultimately climaxed to more spectacular feats of skill and daring. There were 2 great performers and their coach Dave Ross. Dave has coached the Canadian National Trampoline Team for a number of years. It was great fun to watch and ended all too quickly! It was time to move and not get wet…

Wet and Wild…

From the trampoline are we heard the call of the “Barney”! That’s right; Barney & Friends were entertaining the children over at the Kid’s Stage. We walk over to the stage, but could not get close! Parents and children crowded the area, singing and clapping along with Barney. Everyone was having a great time! Later when we returned to the stage, Jungle Cat World was on stage showing the kids their exotic animals. When we passed they were showing a giant python. As we explore other parts of the festival, we discovered the Mississauga Chinese Arts Organization who was performing for Mississauge Waterfront Festival visitors. Finally it was time for the Jet Ski Stunt Show. The Credit River runs parallel to Memorial Park and flows into Lake Ontario. It makes a great venue for a water show. The SWYWYS (no idea what it stands for) JETSKI STUNT SHOW brings new meaning to “wet and wild”! Right from the start the show’s MC set the stage. He had hurt himself riding and couldn’t participate himself, but he could bring life to what the other 2 freestyle riders were doing… 360’s, sub-marining, wave jumping, barrel rolling all kept the crowds wanting more. Part of the shore was rope off with a big sign saying, “Beware – Wet Zone”. A wet zone it was. Several people, kids and adults both, stood in the wet zone taunting the riders. The riders took the bait and positioned their machines so that they could throw the maximum amount spray. Needless to say the daredevils left the area VERY wet! Finally the show was over, but the drums were calling…

The Art of Storytelling …

As we walked away from the Credit River and the Jet Ski show, the sound of drumming caught our attention. The White Pine Dancers were getting ready to perform. Earlier we had heard Aaron Bell, the Ojibway Storyteller, captivate young and old with stories and teachings of the First Nations. His way of telling his stories was mesmerizing. It was now the White Pine Dancers turn to tell their stories. Unlike Aaron, they would do it through dance. Their regalia were breathtaking! To start the performance off, three drummers started to drum in unison. The rhythmic beat created the perfect atmosphere for the dancers. Aaron Bell, our storyteller, introduced each dancer. He explained the significance of the dances being performed. The pageantry and skill of the 4 performers brought to life the stories they were telling in their dances. When the show was over, people crowded the performer to have their pictures taken with them. It was time to go home, but we had one last stop…

Just One More Stop, Please!

We were heading out and almost at the exit, but the lure of cotton candy and loud music pulled me towards THE MIDWAY! The entrance was calling me. For Judi, she would have none of it! I asked to hold our chairs while I took one last look. I pushed my way through the crowds. At the entrance was the FUN SLIDE. Children and adults clutching their “magic” carpets while sliding down from high above. I wandered farther into the midway and was greeted with screams of terror and joy. The AVALANCH was doing its job! The combination of ear splitting music and fast gyrating ride took its toll! All around me people were waiting at the different rides and concessions. The Midway, here and everywhere, always attracted young and old alike to its mystical delights. With these thoughts I left the midway compound back to reality. On the trip back to our car I thought back to my childhood and the midway adventures I had experienced. Perhaps my short time in the Mississauga Waterfront Festival midway allowed me to relive some of my childhood.

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