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Migration Festival (Kingsville)

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

The Visit…

This was going to be a great weekend! We were going to visit our friend, artist Mary Kendrick, and go to the Migration Festival in Kingsville! It was going to be a long drive, about six plus hours. Mary lives in Essex, a little short in Windsor. It is a quaint little town with lots of murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings. Our trip was uneventful and we arrived at Mary’s home at about 4:30 PM. The reception from Mary was overwhelming! She is one of the nicest people we know! (See my Nomad’s Blog about Mary, click HERE) We caught up on lost gossip and then ate a fantastic meal. The opening ceremonies for the Migration Festival were being held tonight in Kingsville and I wanted to go. Mary and Judi were staying home while I attended. The ceremonies were being held at the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary and were to start at 6:30 PM. It was about a 20 minute drive to the Sanctuary from Mary’s, so I left a little before 6:00 pm. I arrived at the Sanctuary in plenty of time. I parked my car and walked into the Sanctuary grounds. It was still light out so I was able to see all the Canada Geese that had gathered there. It was an amazing sight! The actual ceremonies were being held in the Sanctuary’s “Playfair Stadium”. A small crowd was already there. I found a seat and waited for the ceremonies to start.

Opening Ceremonies (A Community Gathering)…

The organist stopped playing when Festival Chair, Tamara Stomp, stepped up to the microphone. It was time for the Opening Ceremonies to start. Tamara thanked everyone for coming and introduced a number of guests. Then she introduced Marjorie Reive, the festival member in charge of the Opening Ceremonies. The Ceremonies of the Migration Festival are a tribute to Conservationist Jack Miner and follow his traditions and beliefs. Marjorie asked everyone to join her and the organist to sing a number of Migration hymns. The hymns included “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “This is My Father’s World”. Marjorie then read “Jack Miner’s Testimony”. Once this was completed, Marjorie asked Kirk Miner to introduced special guest, Singer/Songwriter, Randall Haley. Randall is from Tennessee and has a wonderful southern accent! Randall was inspired to write a song about his experiences with the Jack Miner banding program. The song, a country hit, is called “Blackey and the Jack Miner Band”. Before singing the song, Randall explained the inspiration. The “Band” in Randall’s song is not musical, but it is the band used by the Jack Miner Sanctuary to identify migrating birds. “Blackey” is Randall’s dog! After telling his story, Randall treated us to his song. To close the Ceremonies, Marjorie asked everyone to sing a final hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. With that, the 39th Migration Festival was officially open!

The Migration Parade…

At the end of the parade I asked Judi if she had enjoyed the Festival Parade. She said that she really had! I asked her what she liked best. She told me that it was the participants, local people having fun and, of course, the kids! I knew what she meant, I felt the same! We arrived at our viewing area fairly early. Very few people had set up yet. Those who were there were well bundled up! It was a chilly morning! As the parade’s start time drew closer, more and more people started to come and fill in the empty spaces. It was a fairly long parade, but it would be with so much local participation. As parade participants walked or “floated” by, many called out “hello” to the people who lined the street. Parents and grandparents beamed as their loved ones walked or road by. The parade carried all of the elements of a great parade, lots of bands, clowns and candy for the kids at the side of the road. There were colourful floats with plenty of kids filling them and high school marchers laughing as they walked in line together. The Shriners were there in full force with all their “toys”! It was certainly a parade to remember (see photos below) and one that we were disappointed to see the end of! With the parade over, it was time to visit the Migration Festival's other events. Fortunately we had watched the parade at the Migration Hall. This was right next to the Kingsville District High School, home of the Migration Market Place!

Touring the Migration Festival…

After the parade, we loaded up our folding canvas chairs back into the trunk of our car and then headed for the High School entrance. This was where the Migration Marketplace was being held. We entered the building and started our tour. Vendor booths and displays were set up mainly in the wide hallway of the school. In the foyer we turned right into the first hallway. The hall was crowded with enthusiastic Marketplace Visitors! We followed the flow of traffic and stopped occasionally to admire various booths of interest. At the end of the first hallway was artist Dawn Lavoie’s booth. We had seen and admired Dawn’s work at many other shows that we had visited. We stopped to say hello. Dawn is from the area and likes to participate in local shows. After our visit, we continued our tour. Having made the complete circuit, we walked back outside. The Migration Trolley was waiting to take Festival goers to other activities. We climbed aboard! The Trolley is a replica of the old fashion trolleys that use to roam many streets. The Trolley can actually be rented for all sorts of events! Our first stop was at the town’s main corner. I hopped out to quickly take photos of the music group that was playing there on the sidewalk! I climbed back in and we were off to the Lakeside Park and the Migration Outdoor Show. The Trolley dropped us off at lakes edge and we walked along the shore to a bridged that crossed into the park. We climbed the steep hill towards the park’s pavilion. The show was being hosted by the Southwest Outdoors Club and featured a variety of activities. Just outside the pavilion the buzz of a chainsaw caught our attention. We stopped to watch a master carver make short work of a raw log. The resulting carving was awesome! Then it was on into the building. Inside several outdoor organizations and companies had set up displays. At the front a Long Point Waterfowl presentation was in progress. We looked at the displays and then went back outside. At the side of the pavilion there were other display plus a giant Trout Pond! It was surrounded by excited kids waiting for a fish to bit their hook! Parents watched eagerly ready to help at a moments notice! As we stood watching, several fish were caught. Most were quite small. Then all of a sudden there was a loud yelp! A young boy had caught the “BIG ONE”! As he pulled it in, it spit out the hook and was off the line! The boy, undaunted, put another piece of bait on his hook and waited patiently for another bit. His patience was quickly rewarded! The same fish that he had lost just moments before struck again! This time the young man took no chances. A fish net was called for and the “BIG ONE” was landed! We had had a fun day, but home was hours away and we needed to get back that day. We drove back to Essex to our friend Mary Kendrick’s home. We packed up and then said our regretful good-byes. The Migration Festival experience, combined with our visit with Mary, had been excellent!

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