Festival for the Ages

Contributed by Duncan Fremlin, Broker RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. —

I can’t think of a better way to unite and promote a neighbourhood than a Community festival. The formula is simple. Form a group, call a meeting and encourage all of your neighbours to contribute something that they think their neighbours will enjoy. Sometimes it’s the idea itself that provides the encouragement and incentive for everyone to contribute but more often than not, it’s the people that work behind the scenes that propel it forward.

Our own festival here in Cabbagetown, with it’s long and storied history, has offered something different for each of us each year. I remember some years, I’d host a yard sale with the idea of meeting and greeting some of the neighbours I wouldn’t normally have a chance to talk to throughout the year. That would then be followed by a walk around the area to see the arts and crafts being sold in the park. Of course I’d then have to check out other neighbours’ sales and spend some time chatting with them.

However, it’s always the live music that I look forward to the most and every year is different. I’d always wonder what great act would be performing free of charge somewhere in the area. Depending on the year, the stages are set up in various locations. My favourite memory was the stage I sponsored back in the 1990’s in front of the old CBC building, across from what is now the Flying Beaver. My band Whiskey Jack had just completed a tour with Stompin’ Tom Connors and we were eager to get back on stage so I invited my band mates to join me one Saturday afternoon. I asked a few other entertainer friends to join us and we spent the afternoon having a grand old time. The crowds were huge. We set up a jug in front of the stage and encouraged the audience to throw in their spare change in support of the Hospital for Sick Kids. We collected almost $1,000.00.

Riverdale Farm was the sight of many concerts and dances during the festival. Traditionally, I’d look forward to the call from the late Elizabeth Harris asking if Whiskey Jack would play at the annual Riverdale Farm Square Dance. Elizabeth of course was the driving force behind these happy events and was not only responsible for the great (and not so great) dancing each year, she always made sure fresh Ontario produce was there for all to enjoy. The neighourhood misses Elizabeth a great deal.

All year, there are live music events and shows in the area for everyone to enjoy. Here are a couple of ideas to give you a taste of what to expect if you decide to venture out some night. One of my all time favourite clubs to play is the Flying Beaver at 488 Parliament Street, where the old Parkway Tavern used to be. Their food and wine list is great and who knows… maybe you’ll get to enjoy the talents of Cabbagetown’s own bluegrass band Whiskey Jack. If not them, perhaps the entertainer that night might be our own Cantautore, local singer and pianist, Peter

Donato. One other option is to walk down to The Local Gest at 424 Parliament Street where you might catch some live jazz.
One thing is for sure. If you take the time to see some live music throughout the year, you’ll be guaranteed a good time. All of the entertainers who perform at these venues are first class and they will very much appreciate your attendance.

Duncan Fremlin is a long time cabbagetown resident, Real Estate Broker and musician and can be reached at www.morethanahome.ca
www.whiskeyjackmusic.com and www.duncansblog.com

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