The decision by members of the Verona Community Association's festival committee to shorten this year's Verona Cattail Festival to two days from its usual three in no way compromised what proved to be another successful festival year.
Organizers somehow managed to cram in all of the regular annual festival events that keep crowds coming back, including the popular duct tape boat races at McMullen park beach, which attracted 18 boats with 36 paddlers and many more people who helped to build the boats.
The opening parade, which took place on Saturday morning along Road 38 was also well attended with a fine array of close to 20 colorful, high-quality floats and numerous young and old bog-inspired characters. Prizes where given out to parade participants in several categories; winners included Sheldon Lovegrove, the Butterfly Princess Willa Morton, the First Verona Scouts for their float and Asselstine Hardware for their huge butterfly-ornamented float.
There were tours of Verona and a bigger and better than ever classic car show that was a huge draw on Sunday. New this year were live steam train demonstrations courtesy of the members of the Frontenac Society of Model Engineers.
The customary wide array of activities for kids were also set up on site and new this year was Morphy the bouncy caterpillar, which was a popular draw. The Cattail Express Train made countless trips around the grounds loaded with youngsters who also enjoyed the cycle and skills centre that was set up in the parking lot. Inside the hall were numerous educational games, displays and demonstrations for the inquisitive types. The canteen offered up regular and special festival treats like funnel cakes and more and the vendors' market this year swelled to include over 40 vendors.
Perhaps the biggest draw of all was the stellar line up of 14 live musical acts that were front and centre at the festival stage from noon till well after sundown. The groups included both local bands and bands from in and around the Kingston area, which kept festival goers entertained and the festival emcees Debbie Lingen and Dick Miller on their toes all weekend long. Juno-nominated Gary Rasberry was commanding the stage when I visited on Saturday while the powerhouse blues band Lisa V and the Roosevelts waited in the wings. The Saturday night headliners, the Rock a Billy All Stars and the Sunday afternoon closers the ToneKats show that entertainment coordinators Linda Bates and Rhonda Storring definitely did their homework. This year's festival was co-managed by Wayne Conway and Ron Bruyns and Conway said he was pleased with the early turn out on Saturday. On average the festival attracts between 2000-3000 visitors and with any luck, though one day shorter this year, festival organizers will continue to meet that mark.
-VCF parade 1 & 2 courtesy of Louise Day
2016- Debbie Lovegrove and Lily the Fairy strike a pose with Asselstine Hardware's butterfly float ornament
2011- youngsters loved the Festival's new Morphy the Caterpillar bouncy tunnel