Karen Smallwood, President of Love Productions, has been working hard to create more diverse activities for the Water’s Edge Event Center in Windsor. Already a popular spot for weddings, she’s been trying to get the public to see the building in a different light. She came up with the concept of the Bootlegger Tales and Tastings Show: A story-telling experience that shares Windsor’s contribution to Prohibition History. Given the fascination locals have with this period, she thought it might be popular. She had no idea just how big of an impact it would have.
“Water’s Edge has a huge capacity,” Karen explains, “but live theater still had to work under a lot of restrictions since we started this. Whatever limits were being imposed at the time, this show has sold out weeks before its opening night. It’s been absolutely wild!”
The event, it would seem, is a huge success. Thus far, it has played to full houses three times. It’s about to have another command performance on May 7th.
“We seem to have become the thing to do in Windsor!” Karen remarks, “The show has tremendous appeal. History buffs take a particularly strong interest in us. But Windsorites, in general, just really enjoy this event. They want to learn more about the city they live in. Prohibition represents a fascinating period from Windsor’s past.”
Host Rob Tymec
Part of the appeal of the event is its simplicity. A professional story-teller dressed as a bootlegger from the 1920s strolls out in front of the audience and creates a timeline for them. He starts in the 1800s and explains the conditions that led up to Prohibition. Eventually, he reaches that fateful day on January 16th, 1920.
From there, he outlines the various “tricks” employed by those who wanted to work around the ratification of the 18th Amendment. Those ruses, of course, made them a fortune. But this is a legitimate storyteller – not a lecturer! So there’s all sorts of audience engagement going on.
One of the high points includes a simulated service from a temperance church that gets the whole audience to become the congregation! Selecting the person to host the whole event was something Karen took into serious consideration.
“I chose Rob Tymec for very specific reasons.” she explains, “He’s had a very long record of blending history and performance art together in an entertaining way. He’s been hosting his ghost walks for well over a decade and has been the main character in the popular Rumrunner Tour for several years, too. And that’s just a few of his more high-profile projects. Rob has put in all sorts of effort to bring history to life for Windsorites.”
“I’m very flattered Karen asked me to be involved with this.” Rob enthuses, “I’ve worked on several different things over the years that have presented Prohibition History to an audience. I’ve always had to work off other people’s scripts, though. Which can be a bit tough on me since I’m a writer, myself. I’m happy to be finally showing people this period from Windsor’s past through my own perspective.”
But just giving people a fun night learning about their history still wasn’t quite enough. So Karen decided to add one more feature to the evening: a whiskey tasting!
“I figured hearing about booze all night was going to give a lot of people a craving!” Karen explains, “So, even though the event has a cash bar, I thought a whiskey tasting might be a nice touch.”
You’d think such an event might come at a high price. But Karen has chosen to keep things as accessible as possible by asking for an admission rate of only $20 per person. You can’t beat that! The next performance of this wildly popular show will be at Water’s Edge Event Center (Drouillard and Riverside) on May 7th.
Go to this link for more information and tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/bootlegger-tales-and-tastings-tickets-298868532827?aff=erelexpmlt