Jeff Green | Aug 19, 2015

As the 150th anniversary of Frontenac County was approaching, a committee was formed to organize events to mark the occasion. They realized that the best way to mark a year-long event such as as this was to have an event of some kind to provide a focus.

So the planning began for a three-day celebration from Friday to Sunday, August 28 to 30. The location at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith was an obvious choice. Not only is it located on Road 38, the artery that links three of the four Frontenac townships, it is also the largest community park in the county, easily hosting over 1,500 people on Canada Day each year.

However, the decision to locate the celebration at Centennial Park brought more into play than just a location; it also brought the Harrowsmith, Sydenham and Verona-based service clubs, the Portland District Recreation Committee and the public works department of South Frontenac township into the mix.

Pam Morey and Dan Bell came forward to co-ordinate the event, and the first people they met with were the public works department of South Frontenac.

“The park needed some work done to be able to handle the crowds, and to host all the events,” said Dan Bell, who, in addition to his role with the anniversary celebration is the chair of the Portland District Recreation Committee. “We had plans for upgrades to the park through our local Rec Committee and we were also fortunate enough to receive extra help for other improvements to Centennial Park from South Frontenac Township. The public works department, led by Jamie Brash and Mark Segsworth, did a wonderful job, and Harrowsmith will enjoy the benefits of the upgrades to the park for years to come. It will be one of the legacies of the anniversary.”

This is only fitting because the park itself was a Centennial project from 1967, and thanks to the 150th anniversary of Fronenac County, it will be in fine fettle to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Canada in two years' time.

The upgrades to the park include a brand new parking lot, a brand new playground, better integration with the K&P trail, and improved facilities throughout. In order to put together a varied program of events, Bell and Morey looked to the community, and found that everything they needed was just around the corner. They wanted to have a vendors' market, so they went to the Verona Community Association and the Verona Lions Club, who collaborate on events all the time, and have expertise with vendors from the Verona Garlic Festival and other events.

“They know what to do and to make it work and when they agreed to take it on it was a real load off our shoulders,” said Pam Morey, who is also the president of the Harrowsmith Social and Athletic Club

Similarly the Sydenham Lions are handling parking; the Harrowsmith S&A (Social and Athletic) Club the canteen and beer tent; the Oddfellows the Heritage Ball, and the list goes on.

“It is really an old-time community gathering, sort of like a fair or a picnic. Really a chance for us all to look at what we have built and enjoy each other's company,” said Dan Bell.

“One of the rewards of working on this event has been the co-operation with Frontenac County staff members Anne Marie Young and Alison Vandervelde,” said Morey. “Between them, South Frontenac and the local community, we are sure this event will be a huge success.”

The local flavour of the event extends to the performers who will take the stage throughout the three days. A few of the bands come from Kingston, but most of them are Frontenac County acts.

And, there is no charge to enter the festival grounds all weekend. Apart from the Heritage Ball on Saturday Night at the Golden Links Hall, a nominal fee for the VCA train, which will run though the site, and food vendor purchases, the celebration events are free to the public.

Among the highlights of the three-day celebration will be a large-scale historical re-enactment on the Sunday afternoon, featuring the Brockville Infantry. The group, which has been active for 25 years, takes its inspiration from the original Brockville Infantry, which was founded in 1862, when the pre-confederation communities sought to protect themselves from potential incursions by the Fenians from south of the border. The Fenians conducted raids on British-held lands in Canada in order to pressure the British government to withdraw from Ireland. The re-enactors dress in identical British bright red tunics, carry and fire fully functional replicas of the original Enfield rifles with bayonets, and perform the same precision drill manoeuvres that their counterparts did over 150 years ago. In order to present this polished image of precision, the re-enactors practice these drills on a regular basis throughout the year.

They will not only be presenting a full re-enactment from 1:00 until 2:30 on Sunday (August 30), they will be camping in the park all weekend and will also present a “short skirmish” in Dan Bell's words, on Sat. Aug. 29 from 1 - 1:30pm at the south soccer field.

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