Thursday, July 2, 2015


UPDATE: HERE is why Americans are not coming to Canada for Friendship Festival activities. Great weather notwithstanding, the atmosphere and the location for such festivities is outstanding. An estimated 20,000 people attended the all-day event which culminated in a spectacular fireworks display donated by a local businessman. The renaissance of Buffalo has picked up more and more energy as people flock to the waterfront area. Beaches and waterfront areas are being improved and cleaned up. It's all about making the visitors' experience unforgettable and fun.

Fort Erie has the natural resources and locations to become a desired visiting place once again. Just need people with a vision that does not include high rises on public beachfront property. Enhance and improve what we are blessed with and people will come and spend money.

Searched the morning news services on line and found a great series of pictures of Canada Day in Niagara. All over the region, parades, festivities, fireworks and family fun took place, caught on camera. All but Fort Erie which didn't seem to have anything except a quarter hour of taxpayer-paid fireworks. Hopefully that was well-attended.

You know, I'm embarrassed for my adopted town. WTF? Did not anyone from the once-great Friendship Festival see that when they decided the dates for the event? Holy cripes, Batman. Now the American summer residents will get to celebrate their July 4 holiday at a wonderful community festival in Ridgeway that starts on July 4 (Friday.)

No one can blame the Friendship Festival organizers for the bad weather for last weekend's event. I have not attended the festival in years as there is nothing there of interest to me. I do not fault the organizers for that either, but I suspect there are many others who do not attend for similar reasons to my own. What I am hearing through various people is that everything, including vendor sites, are very expensive. What was once a great low-cost event has become a cash grab and I feel for those parents who must part with significant amounts of money so their children can go on the rides at the festival. I can't get past former Friendship Festivals that celebrated Canadian-American friendship where events coincided with events just across the Niagara River in Buffalo. Fireworks were part of the Friendship Festival, enjoyed by those in Canada near the Old Fort while Americans enjoyed it at LaSalle Park in Buffalo. On July 4, the Americans provided the fireworks from Riverside Park just across the Niagara River near Fort Erie. Great shows and a wonderful choice of handmade items and artwork in a festival that stretched over days and a length of the Parkway between the Old Fort and Mather's Arch. 

Yeah, we know that the bingo money is down. We know that, OK? Then, how can Ridgefest go on for a few thousand dollars, attracting thousands each year? I go to Ridgefest every year because there is a lot to see and it costs me very little to enjoy the festival. Families really enjoy the event and there are a lot of things for the kids to do and see that doesn't cost a fortune.  Food is good and there is plenty of music, along with a street dance sponsored by a service club. 

Fort Erie Friendship Festival organizers have missed the point while they had a bunch of bingo money to throw around. The "bigger" it got, the smaller the potential audience became. If people want nothing but a series of bands parading on stage, they might go to a music festival. The rest of us, members of the Woodstock generation, have had enough of loud bands and third-rate performers; we have all seen the real McCoys. Well-known crafters and artists used to place the Friendship Festival as Number One on their list; now few even show up because the price for a booth is outrageous. 

I believe that the Friendship Festival's only hope is to return to is more humble beginnings. It must run on July 1, even if that is the last day of the festival. Fireworks for a longer period must be part of the event, not budgeted separately. I also believe that the current organizers need to step aside as any long-time organizer/president of any group should step aside after a few years. Stagnancy is bound to happen and the Friendship Festival is in its death throes.

Anyway, Happy Canada Day (a day late as I was elsewhere enjoying Canada Day.)  I am so proud and happy to live in this great country.