Dundas Cactus Festival
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Brad McInnes
March 1, 1976 was a memorable day in Dundas history when Town Council proclaimed Dundas "The Cactus Capital of Canada". Every year for the past 38 years the Cactus Festival has been held in Dundas, Ontario. The Dundas Cactus Festival occurs on the third weekend of August and lasts from Friday to Sunday and attracts visitors from across the nation. The festival is FREE family fun and it includes 3 entertainment stages, event zones and over 100 street vendors.
The Festival has grown over the years and in 1979, the downtown merchants agreed to hold their sidewalk sale as part of the Festival. Other craft vendors and exhibitors were invited too. The midway is opened on Thursday with King Street blocked off from York Road to Market Street and there is a parade on Thursday evening. From Friday to Sunday there are live musicians, buskers, arts & crafts, games, vendors and even some charity gambling.
The parade is quite amazing for a small town festival. There are about 80 different floats parading down the main street of Dundas. The parade lasts for just over an hour.
The Dundas Cactus Festival is named after Barend (Ben) Veldhuis, a Dutch immigrant who ran a large greenhouse specializing in cacti. He was the reason Dundas became known as "the Cactus Capital of the Canada". Over 200 species of cacti were once housed at Ben Veldhuis' greenhouses, at one time North America's largest producer of cacti. The sizes of the cacti ranged from less than an inch to over 30 feet in height. Ben became so well known in international horticulture that a letter addressed simply to: CACTUS, ONTARIO found its way to the Dundas headquarters.
Listed as one of “Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals”, ‘Cactus Festival’ attracts about 100,000 visitors each year. As the Cactus Festival approaches its milestone 40th Anniversary in 2015, planning has already begun to make this celebration an incredible show!