Colborne Apple Blossom Tyme Festival

Colborne Apple Blossom Tyme Festival Re-Visited

Kevin Stuart

by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart

Spring is a time of awakening for both nature and humans. I know how much I look forward to the many activities and events that bring us all back outdoors. The village of Colborne has been marking the passage of spring for the last 23 years with the Apple Blossom Tyme Festival. It’s a leisurely drive along Lake Ontario approximately half way between Oshawa and Belleville in the heart of apple country. Thanks to all the rain and recent warm weather, the blossoms had sprung up just in time to provide the backdrop for the weekend. While the central part of the downtown was blocked, nearby parking was not hard to find on the side streets, allowing for an easy walk to the heart of the activity.
Our first stop was the Apple Blossom 500 soap box derby sponsored by the local Optimist Club. The “rods” were driven by a number of enthusiastic kids with many trophies handed out at the end. It must have been very competitive given that four of the racers had the identical time! Analyze that any way you’d like but, after road hockey, it’s the most fun kids can have playing in the street.
Aside from that, there was plenty to keep the kids occupied and one activity in particular could make them feel very productive. Local business Holcim Quarry held a craft tent for children to create their own version of Inukshuk, seen prominently during the 2010 Olympic games. Not only that, but they could operate remote controlled machinery to deliver the “cargo” from one place to another. For anyone wishing to see Holcim in action, an open house and tour was also offered.
For those who enjoy a little competition, the afternoon we were there brought the Apple Pie Eating contest in various age categories, with pies appropriately supplied by the one and only Big Apple, a popular stop off Highway 401 at Colborne. The contestants were a bit hesitant initially but a cheering crowd helped work them up to making it a truly gluttonous celebration. Nothing wrong with that now and then.
The backdrop for that and the other displays throughout Victoria Park was entertainment under the gazebo performed by many of the area’s finest bands with a little something to suit every taste. It seems many of the residents who have been favoured by proximity also offered visitors a chance to pick up some treasures for their home or garden. This is not surprising as Colborne is also host to the town-wide Trash & Treasures yard sale later in the summer. My wife and I compromised so she only stopped at about half of the ones we saw along the way! Even the local library was in the spirit, providing a wide selection of gently used books at bargain basement prices, perfect for summer reading for all ages.
There was even some evidence of wild life with the Birds of Prey shows allowing audiences and up close and personal look at owls and a falcon. It was quite an education and a reminder of the importance of respecting all creatures in their natural habitat.
Refreshments were not a problem with food and drink of many kinds were available from various merchants lining the centre of town. For someone looking for some movement, the midway and children’s play area had enough going on to run out anyone’s excess energy.
Besides the local businesses mentioned earlier, there were many others who were happy to associate their names with the Apple Tyme Festival. It’s a true example of what can happen when so many in a community band together to make an event happen. It’s one of the reasons we have returned often and recommend you include it at least once on your festival itinerary.

Colborne Apple Blossom Tyme Festival


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

“I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Tyme…”

Another beautiful sunny day… a great day for a festival! We are off again, this time only a short distance to Colborne. As with the Frankford Riverfest, we decided to take scenic County Road 2 to our destination. Just before we enter Grafton, we pass Barnum House. This is a National Historic Site operated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation. It opens for tours on July 1st. Just past Barnum House is the Van Schyndel-Lachapelle Antique Gallery. In the middle of the village, on the north side, is the Grafton Village Inn. It’s a quaint B & B with a superb Saturday/Sunday “All Day” Brunch. On leaving Grafton, we enter Apple County. Winding our way on County Road 2 we travel through the rolling hills of Northumberland County. As we continue eastward, we pass apple orchards and fruit and vegetable stands. The Apple Route gives you plenty of opportunities to stop and purchase fruits and vegetables, potted flowers and freshly made pies and tarts. The trip is a treat for all senses. After about 30 minute we reach our destination, Colborne, home of the “Big Apple", Hoselton Studio and the Colborne Apple Blossom Tyme Festival

First the Park…

When we arrived in Colborne I thought parking was going to be a problem. The main street was closed off. Imagine our surprise and relief to find a great parking spot right across from the park. This would be our first stop. The park, located between two of Colborne’s main streets, is not large, but today it was jammed with tents and activities for the whole family. The local library was selling off some of their books. Judi was out of the car like a shot and went directly for the book table. For about $3.00 she bought 4 great books. Other events in the park included a Wellness Centre, children’s games and activities and a petting zoo. The children were thrilled with all the farm animals. There were even baby chicks that could be picked up and petted. While we were investigating the park booths, we heard music coming from the closed main street. We decided to leave the park and find out where the music was coming from…

And Now Appearing On This Stage…

From the park grounds, we walked over to Percy Street, which is the eastern boundary road to the park. Several types of food booths dotted the street. They ranged from service club/church barbeques to specialty food trailers. On the south end of the road, where it joined County Road 2, was a 53’ tractor-trailer unit. The trailer was specially designed to be a mobile stage. We had just missed the music group that we had heard from the park. However, a group of young Tae Kwan Do trainees were taking the stage to give the crowd a demonstration of their sport. You could tell there were several levels of experience by the colours of their belts. Before the demonstration took place we looked over the remainder of the festival. Just opposite the stage was the Colborne Apple Blossom Tyme Festival information booth. Behind it was the main street that had been closed to traffic. Something we would explore after the stage performances. Finally the participants were ready for their demonstration. You could see the pride of accomplishment in the young trainees and their trainers. After the Tae Kwan Do demonstration was completed, the large group of high school musicians took the stage. After much tuning of instruments, the group entertained the audience to several musical numbers. We finally pulled ourselves away to continue our festival exploration…

Main Street Colborne

The main street (County Road 2) was lined with displays and booths. On the north side of the street old tractors were lined up in a row, ready to be judged. They ranged from really old to near old. The air was filled with the “splutter-putt-putt” of steam engines being fired up. One of the old tyme tractors passed us on its way to fall into line. The tractor’s operator skillfully geared the tractor back and forth until it fell perfectly in line with the other tractors. It was interesting to see, once the driver was off the tractor and shutting down the engine, just how long the engine took to stop. It seemed to take forever, but finally after much “sputtering” the engine died. While I admired the tractors, Judi dashed off to one of the main street shops. Colborne's unique downtown shopping area features a raised sidewalk on the north side of the street. Judi came back with a bag full of "bargain" clothes. Across the street from the tractors were antique tool displays. There must have been at least 20 display cases showing off these tools. They were all grouped into different types. Further down the road, just off in a parking lot was a small midway. The rides were whirling around and the kids screamed in delight. At the end of the closed off section of the street was a fire engine display, featuring an antique fire engine. We turned back and started to walk back to the stage. As we reached the stage area, the PA announcer told everyone in hearing distance that the soap box derby was going to start in 30 minutes. Judi and I headed for the races…

Race Time…

The street where the soap box derby was being run was a few blocks east of the main part of the festival. We followed others who were also looking forward to seeing the young racers. When we arrived, race fans were already lining the raceway street. Hay bails lay on the sides of the streets to protect the young drivers. We had arrived in time for the first race. The racers were still making practice runs. Finally the announcer asked all participants to report to the starter. The first two soap box cars were put onto the starting ramp. The drivers were carefully lifted onto the starting ramp and then helped into their car. The race starter, from the Castleton-Colborne Optimist Club, checked with the finish line official to make sure everything was in order. The announcer asked onlookers to move back behind the hay bails. Most people complied. Everything was ready. The starter dropped the barrier holding the cars and the race was on. The cars speed down the street towards the finish line. Who won? It really didn’t matter, because everyone was having so much fun. After watching several heats, we decided to head back to the main festival area. It was time to taste the delights of the festival… food that is…it was past our lunch time!

You Never Know Who You'll Meet…

We walked back up the main festival street to the stage area and then turned north on the road that bounded the park. There were a variety of food vendors, but we had our sights set on the food at the top of the street. The Colborne United Church had a barbeque fired up plus they was housing an amateur art show and sale. We lined up for a hot dog (Judi) and a hamburger (me). After a short time they were freshly cooked and we were off to the condiment table. We turned around and who should be in line, none other than Rick Norlock, our local MP and his wife Judy. A few blogs ago we visited them in Ottawa for lunch in the Parliamentary Dining Room and a tour of the Parliament Centre Block building (Click HERE for article). We joined them for another lunch! It was great seeing and talking to them again. After lunch we went into the side room of the church to take in the art show. The cost was $2.00 each. There was plenty of great art being shown, plus a number of artists were on hand to talk about their art. It now time to head home. On the road that took up north to Hwy 401 was the Hoselton Studio. They were holding an open house and sale. We stopped by to take a look at the wonderful aluminum sculptures they were offering. Also the way to Hwy 401 is the Big Apple Restaurant and Theme Park. This is a wonderful complex that includes a restaurant, pie factory bakery, gift store, petting zoo, miniature golf and, of course, “The world’s biggest apple”. You have to see it to believe it. The Big Apple reports that they serve over 500,000 people each year and have sold 2,875,460 pies. That’s a lot of pies! We really had fun attending this year’s Colborne Apple Blossom Tyme Festival. The organizers put in a lot of hard work to make it a success. Thanks to the organizers and the Town of Colborne for a pleasant day.