Summer time competition season formally kicks off in Windsor-Essex

People are turning out by the thousands for a weekend of festivals and events in Windsor-Essex, feeding a thirst that has gone largely unquenched over the past two years.

“People are hungry to get out,” proclaimed Allan Kidd, the co-chair for Art in the Park at Willistead Park. This is amazing.”

Kidd says the Rotary Club was planning for 30,000 guests but was totally overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who came out Saturday.

“A great year for us would be 20,000 to 25,000 adults,” said Kidd. “I’ve got to figure we’re going to be closer to 40,000 or over this weekend.”

230 artists dotted Walkerville Park for the two-day festival, their tents filled to the gills with a variety of wares and goods. Another 15 local food and beverage vendors dished out treats while local musicians filled the air with an ambiance fitting for an event season kick-off.

“We wanted something fun to do today, so we just came down here to look at everything here and it’s very fun,” said 10-year-old Sloane O’Neil.

“Great to get back to some sort of normal and see all the people out,” said James Leistico. “It was worth it waiting in line to get in. I think everyone else is craving this too.”

If Art in Park isn’t your bag but you were down to get your hands dirty, the Northern Heat Rib Series is the spot.

“It’s really nice after COVID to have all these things back, it’s been so boring before, so it’s nice to be outside,” said Grace Health, who dug into some pork ribs and mac and cheese to commemorate the occasion.

The rib festival took place at Festival Plaza from Friday to Saturday, bringing finger-licking good times and thousands more people to the riverfront.

“It’s a great thing to see all these people,” said Tex Robert Jr., a southern griller from Louisiana. “I’ll tell you one thing, the past two days have been great, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

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