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Kingsville’s Migration Festival exemplifies community spirit of resiliency


by Adam Gault

In a year like no other, it was a Migration Festival like no other, as residents of Kingsville and Essex County came together to take part in the 51st iteration of the annual event this past weekend.

  For the past several months, members of the 2020 Migration Fest Committee worked with representatives from the Town of Kingsville to host a version of the festival that would satisfy the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s health and safety protocol, due to the pandemic, while delivering a memorable experience.

  “The [Migration Fest] Committee has been very creative, we’ve looked at all of our events and changed many of them, there’s nothing that looks the same,” Kingsville Parks and Recreation Program Manager, Maggie Durocher, said, noting that many of the traditional events had gone virtual or completely outdoors to comply with health orders.

  The biggest omission from the event was the lack of the traditional parade, which would normally kick off the event as it would make its way down the spectator-lined Main Street, showcasing numerous floats, horseback riders, and marching bands from across the county.

In lieu of that annual spectacle, residents and businesses were encouraged to decorate their homes or businesses with their best fall-themed decor and submit their photos online for the chance at several local prize packs.

  PJs and Pancakes also took on a different feel this year, with the Migration Committee preparing 200 free breakfast kits for attendees to prepare at home, which included pancake mix from Toasted Meringue Bakery, as well as fresh strawberries, generously donated from Del Fresco and Mucci Farms.

  While picking up their breakfast kits, community members were also encouraged to donate a non-perishable food item in support of the Kingsville Food Bank, bringing to the forefront the community spirit that made an event like the 2020 Migration Festival possible.

  “Granted, the challenges we have under the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to be safe, still being able to celebrate your community, the culture, and certainly heritage, that’s what Migration Festival really represents for our municipality,” Kingsville Mayor, Nelson Santos, said. “It’s a tradition that’s been here for generation after generation. Being able to have our volunteers continue to dedicate their time over the past year, to shape and reshape what this festival looks like this year is so critical, and we’re very thankful for those efforts.”

  While there were initially plans to hold a few events indoors, new restrictions forced the entirety of the Migration Festival to be held outdoors. One outdoor event included the first Great Migration Paint-Out, where artists from across Essex County painted scenery “en plein air” across Kingsville. In addition, the market, which is normally held in the Kingsville Arena, was moved to a controlled outdoor area beside the Carnegie Arts and Visitors Centre.

  From that market, Kingsville Lions Club member, Joe Gibson, summed up how many are feeling about the pandemic, with signs of normality like the Migration Festive continuing to inspire and bring the community together as a unified front.

  “It’s a tough thing, but we are managing,” Gibson said. “We will overcome, and it’s all going to be good.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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