Frankford Riverfest


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Off To the Frankford Riverfest

It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shinning brightly and not a cloud in the sky! There is a slight breeze. The temperature is and will be very pleasant. A great day to visit another festival. Frankford is a sleepy little town located just north of Trenton. It is situated on the Trent Canal. Because it is such a beautiful day, we decide to take County Road 2 (the road formerly known as Hwy. #2) from our home in Cobourg all the way to Trenton. Traveling on County Road 2 allows me to drive and daydream at the same time, somewhat like drinking coffee, driving and talking on the phone at the same time! To reach Trenton you have to drive through 3 very pretty towns, Grafton, Colborne and Brighton. Each has its own charm. Grafton, for example, has a great country inn with fantastic food. Colborne has two very successful business. The Big Apple Restaurant with its tasty pies and Hoselton Studios which manufacture much sought after aluminum sculptures. As a matter of fact, we will be visiting the Colborne “Apple Blossom Tyme Festival” next weekend. Brighton is the last town before Trenton. It is a lovely town with many quaint shops. It is also the gateway to Presqu'ile Provincial Park. This park is renowned for its birding. Many of Canada’s best wildlife artists come to Presqu'ile to observe, sketch and paint. From Brighton we traveled to the Trenton, the home of the Canadian Forces Base Trenton/8 Wing and the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Museum. To reach Frankford, we had to turn north onto Hwy. 33. Hwy. 33 runs parallel to the Trent Canal on the west side. After a short journey north, through Batawa, the former home of Bata Shoes, we reached Frankford. Now we had to find out where the activities were taking place. At the stop lights (the only ones for miles) we turned left. This was done more out of dumb luck then brilliant planning. As it turns out, we could have turned either way and still found some part of the Festival. Turning west, however, did take us to the first activity we wanted to see… the "Death Defying Soap Box Derby Races”!

The Big Race!

The crowds were already lining the street when we arrived at the race sight. Fortunately there was a parking spot close by. We walked to the race street just in time to see a pair of racers cross the finish line. This was “Soap Box Derby Racing” at its best. The hay bails were strategically placed to stop the racers from crashing into the wrong surface. The young racers were eager to show off their equipment and skills. High up on the street a ramp had been set up as the staging area for the racers to start. Two carts with their drivers where ready to go. The starter at the finish line raised his flag telling the racers above that the race was about to start. The starter lowered his flag and the race was on! Both carts were sent off the ramp and came hurling down the hill towards the finish line. The racer in the lead was a little shaky. The speed seemed to be too much for her. Suddenly her cart veered to the right and steered wildly to the side on the road into the hay bails. The St. John’s Ambulance attendances were right there. Thankfully the driver was fine except for her pride. The second racer slowly crossed the finish line, unobserved by most. Other races proceeded, camera flashed and the crowds loved it. Soap Box Derby Racing at its best! Proud parents and friends hugged their young racers, happy they had survived the experience in one piece. We left the scene ready for our next adventure… the giant indoor yard sale!

Frankford Hospitality…

From the happy racers we drove to the Indoor Yard Sale located at the Frankford Lions Centre. The Centre is not well marked, so it was fortunate that we had asked for directions at the race site. While the yard sale was not huge, Judi, my “book bloodhound wife” was able to find the “perfect” How to book for her sister. She was also able to buy the World for her nephew… all for the exorbitant price of 50 cents. What a deal! From the Lions Yard Sale we moved on to the Frankford United Church. This was where the Frankford Riverfest brunch was being offered. After parking the car, we enter the church through a side door. The brunch was very popular. The room was filled with people enjoying pleasant food. For $8.00 each, Judi and I entered the fray. It was a buffet brunch, so we lined up behind other hungry “brunchers” (new word, I just made it up!). This attraction was so well attended that we had to wait while more food was being prepared, and there was lots of it… 4 or 5 types of eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausages, potatoes, toast, cakes, pies, donuts, tea, coffee and juices. There may have been more variety; I was just too full to care! From the brunch we “waddled” back to the car ready for more (not food!) adventure. The riverside was waiting…

The Trent Canal…

We drove over the bridge that spans the Trent River and Trent Canal. The Festival has four main sites. The first site we visited was Mill Street, where both the Soap Box Derby and the Frankford Riverfest Brunch took place. The second was the Lions Centre on Centre Street. This was where the Indoor Yard Sales was housed. The third site was the Trent Canal lock parking area located in between the river and the canal. The midway and music were set up here. The forth and final site was located on the east side of the canal on the banks of the canal. Speaking of the Trent Canal, it is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway system which runs 386 km from Lake Ontario at Trenton, Ontario all the way up to Port Severn, Ontario located on Georgian Bay. When Judi and I had a boat, we spent many days traveling a good portion of the Kawartha Lakes portion of the Waterway. If you ever get the opportunity to boat on the Waterway, I would highly recommend you do it. The Frankford lock is one of the nicest on the system. The park that surrounds the lock is well maintained and great for picnic lunches. Since we were so close, we couldn’t help but take a walk to see the lock itself. Unfortunately there were not boats entering or leaving the lock. The scene however was still beautiful. The sound of the water flowing through an opening in the lock, Canada Geese and their goslings walking along the rivers edge and a gentle breeze blowing through the trees all added to the moment. We reluctantly left the lock and headed back to the main Riverfest area.

And Now the Rest of the Story…

We walked back from the Frankford Lock to the Riverfest’s main area. This was set up for two activities, the Midway and several music concerts. When we arrived, at about 11:30 AM, the Midway was in operation, but not a lot of people had arrived yet. Judi and I wandered around the grounds taking in the sights and sounds of the Midway. The people who were there were having fun riding the rides, playing the games of chance and eating the carnival food. We walked to the music area hoping that we could sit in the shade and listen to some music. Unfortunately we had not looked at the festival's schedule carefully enough. The music wouldn’t start until 4:00 PM. Due to another commitment we could not stay to hear the bands play. We were naturally disappointed. We had paid $5.00 each to enter the festival and had hoped to receive more value for our money. We passed back through the festival gates to our car. Earlier, on our way in, we could have taken a hot air balloon ride for $2.00. Not really a full ride, just a tethered ride a few feet off the ground. It looked like it might be fun, but Judi is not fond of heights. We had parked our vehicle in a parking area located on the west bank of the canal. On the east bank was the antique car show. Several antique vehicles were lined up, shining in the sun. Their reflections glittering in the canal added to the magic of the scene. It was time to leave. We really enjoyed the hometown friendliness of the festival and, of course, the brunch! We were sorry not to been able to stay to listen to the music or to see the fireworks. Perhaps another time. This was a great local festival, showing off the delights of a small town. This festival is spread out throughout the town. To make it easier for none residents to find their way around from site to site, better signage would be a big plus. The handwritten signs that were there were hard to see and to read. Also, if the festival wants out-of-town guests to attend, I would suggest that the festival have more midday activities to keep attendees interested in staying. As far as we could see the main attractions took place either in the morning (Soap Box Derby and Frankford Riverfest Brunch) or in the late afternoon/evening (several music groups and the fireworks). Anyone able to attend the whole event (2 days) certainly got their monies worth for $5.00 or $4.00 if you bought in advance. So now it's goodbye Frankford, we love your town and the Frankford Lock. We’ll be back with our picnic lunch.