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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Fun Fest kicks-off Thursday, offering full roster of entertainment

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Over the past three-and-a-half decades the Essex Fun Fest has been offered to the community, members of the Essex Festival Committee are continuously making tweaks and adjustments to ensure the local fair continues to grow and attract a bigger crowd.

  This year’s festivity – taking place July 4-7 – is no exception, with Committee members having a goal to offer a weekend of fun for area residents. The popular festival is often the time when former residents come back to their hometown to visit with friends and family members.

  Beginning on Thursday, July 4, the festival grounds – located at the Essex Centre Sports Complex grounds – will officially open at 5pm, kicking-off a full four-day roster of activities.

  Thursday’s activities include the Youth Talent Showcase, where local youths can show off their on-stage skills, and the 3rd annual Sip ‘n Shop Wine Mixer, for those 19 and over.

  One of the major changes to this year’s schedule of events is that the car show will take place on Friday evening, beginning at 4:30pm in the downtown area.

  Another big change is on the entertainment line-up. This year’s Nashville Nights Country concert will take place on Friday, beginning with Carson Janik of Tecumseh at 7pm and Redferrin at 8:30pm.

  The Essex Fun Fest’s Rock the Fest night will take place on Saturday at 8:30pm, with special guests, Canadian Juno-award winning band, Honeymoon Suite. This gig will kick-off after the Essex Firemen’s Association has a chance to draw a winner from its 2024 50/50 raffle – tickets will be available for sale at the fairgrounds leading up to the draw – and the unveiling of the 2024 Citizen of the Year winner.

  Saturday’s festivities kick-off at 10:30 am, beginning with the annual Essex Fun Fest Parade. This year’s theme will be “Harmony in Colour.” The idea is to create a vibrant parade that highlights the resilience and revival of the downtown area.

  Fairgrounds will open at 11:30am, after the parade has finished proceeding through the downtown area.

  The long-list of entertainment for Saturday will also add a new feature, “Clash of the Voices,” an opening singing competition at 3:30pm, and will conclude with the annual fireworks display at 10:05pm, with the rain date reserved for Sunday, if needed.

  Sunday’s roster of activities will begin with a new event, the Essex Fun Fest 5K Run, Walk, and Wheel at 9am. This event will take place away from the fairgrounds, at Sadler’s Nature Pond.

  It is being organized by two Essex District High School students, Rachel Wilbee and Lauryn Smith.

  Wilbee said she wanted to organize the 5K event as she believed it would be good for the community.

  The race can accommodate 60 participants, and she was pleased to note they were just short of reaching that goal a week ahead of the event. It is open to all ages, with lawn games available onsite for the little ones. All who join will get a participation medal.

  Participating costs entrants $40, with all proceeds to be forwarded to support the Essex Area Food Bank. In addition, she noted the event was able to attract many great community partners in the form of sponsorships.

  Non-perishable food items will also be collected onsite to further support the local Food Bank.

  Wilbee hopes to raise $3000 to support the Essex Area Food Bank, as it transitions to its new location at the former Fitness Fury grounds.  

  Though the inaugural 5k Run, Walk, and Wheel will stay at Sadler’s, Wilbee hopes next year’s event will be able to expand beyond that point.

  The 5k Run, Walk, and Wheel will also offer a pre-race warm up, music, refreshments, and raffle prizes.

Back at the fairgrounds, families and individuals will also be able to enjoy World’s Finest Shows midway, full of carnival games and rides throughout the four-days of entertainment.

At various points throughout the festival, the Kids’ Zone, Chill Zone, live music, and various forms of entertainment, including Off Kilter Equine Entertainment, Krusher BMX Professional Stunt Team, horseshoe tournament, Border City Wrestling, and Four Paws Dog Show, will take place.

  To learn about admission costs, how to become a volunteer, or see the full activity schedule, log onto www.essexfunfest.com.

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