April 17, 2021

BY KRIS MANUEL

In the Hespeler part of Cambridge, smiles and dancing were seen as people gathered in the downtown area.

Live music from local artists filled the air. There were also local vendors, carnival rides and other entertainment on Queen Street, which was closed for the third annual Hespeler Harvest Festival on Sept. 15.

The free annual event was organized by the Hespeler Village Neighbourhood Association.

“We do this event to bring us all together as a community and to promote community spirit,” said Amanda Horne, the association’s recreation co-ordinator.

The festival featured a bouncy castle, kiddies fun trak, balloon animals, face painting and cupcake decorating. Panwaves Steelband performed in front of Monty’s on Queen while at the same time other musicians performed on a musical stage next to The Company of Neighbours Hespeler Heritage Centre on Tannery Street.

Amanda Ramnarine, whose fiancé is a member of Panwaves Steelband, said it’s a good and inexpensive family event in Hespeler with local artists and lots of activities for the kids.

“It’s good for celebrating the end of summer, to celebrate the end of a season and the start of a new one.”

New this year was the Harvest Festival Passport. Participants were able to travel to each business on the passport and receive a stamp on each page for a chance to win two VIA Rail tickets along with other prizes. Horne said the association was able to build sponsorship with at least 14 other businesses in the area.

They also added a veggie station, where locally-grown harvest was sold, and a colouring contest for the kids.  Ken Boyle, treasurer, said the association was also looking at adding hayrides for next year’s festival.

The participants weren’t the only ones who benefited from this event. The businesses on Queen Street remained open during the festival and supported the association.

“The merchants make money and we let the kids have fun,” said Boyle. “The best part about it is seeing the kids, the looks on their faces.”

For a small downtown area, the crowd was big. He said the turnout was almost double this year over last’s.

“Each year it’s growing bigger,” he said.