Cambridge might be one of the most popular “staycation” destinations this coming summer. The City of Cambridge recently announced in partnership with the Rotary Club of Cambridge North and the Rotary Club of Cambridge Sunrise that the first annual Cambridge Ribfest will be held at Riverside Park on Mickler field, Aug. 8-10, 2014.
Along with the ribfest, the Preston Towne Centre is holding an art festival on the same dates, pairing artists up with stores that match the target demographic. For example, Gadsby’s, a high-end men’s apparel store, will have traditional style paintings, whereas Candy Fun House is allowing children to submit their work and, at least for a few days, be professional artists.
“We’re tagging onto the ribfest. You want people to have an experience with the events, but you want them to shop as well,” said Shirley Bowman, Preston Business Improvement Association (BIA) co-ordinator.
Kitchener’s ribfest drew an estimated 43,000 last year. Cambridge officials are predicting around 20,000 this year with expectations for the number to be on par with Kitchener as the event grows over the years.
Riverside Park is located off of King Street. Parking is minimal even on summer days without major events, let alone with the large numbers expected to attend the festival this year. To combat the predicted parking woes and high traffic, the Rotary clubs, City of Cambridge and GRT are working on plans to utilize a free shuttle service from Preston High School and a handful of local churches in hopes of easing the congestion.
“They’re expecting a large crowd,” Bowman said. “We’re setting up a booth down in the park to entice them to walk up the street and check out the shops and art for sale. It’s an exciting new event not only for us, but for the people of Cambridge as well.”
Another exciting event will be the Candy Fun House first-ever Hip Hop Candy Fest on May 24. Kids up to the age of 16 can compete against other children in hopes of landing a professional recording session for their original song. The event is being used to raise awareness for Argus Residence for Young People, a shelter for homeless youth in Cambridge.
“You just don’t see it until you really look,” said Mo Hejazi, owner of Candy Fun House. “The hip-hop festival is fun for everyone involved, but we like standing behind meaningful ideas and messages too.”
Children and teens will perform their song in front of three judges on May 24. Eight will go onto the final round held on June 14, with a recording session and $250 on the line for first place. Hejazi wants all the songs to have a positive message, ideally with candy-themed words and rhymes, so Candy Fun House can use the recording themselves as well for promotion.
“How cool is that? Even if they never record a song again they can show their friends years down the road their professionally recorded original song,” Hejazi said.
For an event a little bit closer, the Preston BIA is holding its annual Easter egg hunt Saturday, April 19 at 11 a.m. The free event is expected to draw around 800 children to Central Park.
“When it first started we had 67 kids. Every year it just grows and grows,” Bowman said.
Hejazi said, “We’re definitely going to be down there at the (Central) park. We want to make sure that people stay longer in the area than just the hour it takes for the Easter egg hunt. The more exposure we (Preston Town Centre) get, the better each business will become.
“What we really want is for an event to be going on every weekend here. We want to be the first thing people think about when they’re looking for something to do on weekends.”
The YMCA is holding its own Easter weekend event the same day, less than a kilometre away at Riverside Park; however, their event is a fundraiser and an admission fee will be charged.
With the new events and traditional ones spreading throughout the summer, Preston Town Centre and the City of Cambridge are shaping up to be the place to be this year.