Community rallies for summer festival in Sydenham

Written by  Catherine Reynolds Wednesday, 18 July 2018 13:06
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Christine Kennedy in full costume talking about Sydenham's days of yore Christine Kennedy in full costume talking about Sydenham's days of yore

John Neven knows movement is medicine.

Standing with his bike at the second annual Lakes and Trails Festival in Sydenham last week, the 70-year-old smiles after cycling 21kms.

“The ride was excellent,” says the Sharbot Lake man after eating his third ice cream cone post-race. “The scenery was fantastic. I didn’t realize the lake was so big.”

Neven, along with dozens of other cyclists, biked around Sydenham Lake as part of a grassroots event to highlight the area’s remarkable lakes, trails and history.

The bike tour (four distances in total) was held in conjunction with a paddle, walking tour, concert and lunch; all free at Point Park in the morning and Mill Street in the afternoon.

Lead organizer Ross Sutherland, Sydenham District Councillor with South Frontenac Township, smiles when he announces registration has topped 375 people; a number he had hoped to reach.

“I’m really happy,” the friendly man confesses while looking around at the successful summer event. “It has such a wonderful feel.”

According to Sutherland, the bike rodeo was a big hit with families..

“We encouraged people to come-out, have lunch and visit. It’s very much a community event,” explains the 66-year-old.

New this year to the festival was a children’s performer.

“At the beginning, I was afraid it wouldn’t work, but by the end, there was 40 to 50 kids (watching the performance),” says Sutherland. “It was fun.”

Asked about the purpose of the festival, Sutherland notes, “It’s a bundle of things. Sydenham is a wonderful community, but it doesn’t do much as a community.”

Faced with this challenge, Sutherland and a group of volunteers decided to showcase the area’s attractions.

“We have three of the best trails in the province crossing Sydenham,” says Sutherland. “We also have beautiful lakes. It’s sort of a natural fit.”

The organizers plan to keep the event as a grassroots community event as evident by the music playing in the background.

“This is all my favourite music,” says Sutherland, gesturing to the upbeat soundtrack he made for the festival.

Sitting with other members of the SteeleBender Cycle Club of Sharbot Lake, Phillip Bender smiles when asked about the festival.

“It was good,” says the 65-year-old about completing the 21km bike ride. “I did it last year as well. That’s what brought me back. It’s a fun time. You get to meet people.”

Questioned if a third annual festival is in the works, Sutherland admits, “We’d love to do it again, but it sort of depends on community support. We need to raise enough money and have enough volunteers.

“The people who are organizing it (this year) did an amazing job,” he says kindly. “This wouldn’t work if it wasn’t a community festival.”

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