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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Come fly with me: Kingsville celebrates fall with 52nd annual Migration Festival

by Sylene Argent

Even having to combat periods of rain over the four-day event, the 52nd annual Migration Festival ended up being a success, thanks to the many volunteers and event committee members, who are dedicated to celebrating the legacy of the Father of Conservation, Jack Miner.

  From Thursday to Sunday, throughout Kingsville, a variety of activities were held to capture the attention of anyone who attended and came together as a community to celebrate conservation, history, and the magic of migration.

  Due to the pandemic, for the second year in a row, the traditional parade did not take place, which would normally kick off the event.

  This year’s festival, however, offered a new event for attendees to enjoy, the Guided Walk and Roll Series, which showcased Kingsville’s unique history. This feature was free for visitors to attend.

The tours were either self-guided or guided by someone with the expertise to share historical facts about the downtown area. A prepared handout was given to those who participated in the tour, which outlined the historical points as they progressed through the route.

  Kingsville’s Deputy Mayor Gord Queen was one of the guides for these tours.

  He was happy to guide a memory walk on Division Street and Main Street. When he guided a walk, which lasted around an hour each, he highlighted changes that have taken place in town. Those who participated were shown photos of former places.

  For instance, Queen noted, Kingsville used to have a park located across from the Carnegie building, with a band shell, that was called Wigle Park.

  Other activities hosted throughout the four-day event included the opening ceremonies, art display from The Great Migration Paint Out participants, live music, a marketplace at Lakeside Park and Grovedale Arts and Culture Centre, live painting all around town, children’s activities at the Carnegie Centre and Lions Park, Kingsport Birds of Prey demonstrations, and a Kingsville Lions Club barbeque.

  In addition, activities took place at Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary.

  Unfortunately, the rain on Friday caused the postponement of the Sacred Fire Ceremony that was to be performed by the Caldwell First Nations at Carnegie Arts & Visitor Centre.

  Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said it was sad this activity had to be cancelled, but he is looking forward to having the event rescheduled. Some of the other activities were brought indoors over the course of the four-day event, due to the unruly weather, but were able to continue.

  “Certainly, now that it is 52 years of a tradition, it really speaks to the sense of community that has brought up the Town of Kingsville,” Santos said. “It has always been centered around volunteers and speaking to heritage. When you look at the connection with the environment, we talk about the migration, we talk about the Jack Miner legacy and the story that’s alive and well with the bird sanctuary, and really being able to educate the guests about that piece.”

  He said the walking tour was an exciting addition to the festival this year. He said there were 17 artists who participated in the art competition, who picked locations throughout the municipality to paint.

  “It is exciting to see them come together not only for the event, but the sense of friendly competition that they are each learning as well,” Santos said.

  He said it is important to recognize the founders and significant contributors of a community that left a mark on the town. That history is not only a tourism attraction, it instills community pride.

  “You can never overestimate the heritage of the community and its strength,” Santos said.

  He commended the hard work and dedication of the organizing committee and volunteers, who ensured the event went on, following COVID-19 guidelines, to provide entertainment through a celebration of history.

  “We had a great weekend,” he said.  

  In the mid-1960s, the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary was the second largest tourist attraction across the nation, second only to Niagara Falls.

  Miner, born on April 10, 1865 in Dover Centre, Ohio, and was one of 10 children born to English immigrant parents. He spent his childhood in the woods, perfecting hunting skills, resisting his parents’ plea to go to school. In 1878, the Miner family moved to Canada.

  Miner founded the Sanctuary, located on his family’s property on the 3rd Concession in Kingsville, in 1904. Five-years later, he banded his first mallard duck with his name and address. Now, the Jack Miner band is legendary.

  Miner passed away in 1944.


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