Migration Festival celebrated in Kingsville

by Adam Gault

For nearly half of a century, Kingsville’s annual Migration Festival has been a highlight of the fall calendar. Locals and travellers from afar descend on the town to celebrate the legacy of local avian conservationist, Jack Miner, and the continued spirit of tradition, migration, and conservation with the festival’s myriad of activities aimed to be family-friendly and enthrall bird enthusiast.

Celebrating its 49th year, the festival brought visitors from across the region, Canada, and the world, to experience the one-of-a-kind event this past weekend, which kicked off with an opening ceremony at the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary on Thursday night.

“We’re prospering because of the history and story [of Jack Miner],” Kingsville Mayor, Nelson Santos, said as the opening ceremony got underway. “Recognizing our heritage, our story, it does revolve around the people that have built this community and Jack Miner is one of those. On behalf of the Town of Kingsville, thank you, and enjoy your weekend with the festival.”

Those who braved the unseasonable cool weekend weather did find much to enjoy at the continually growing festival, including Saturday morning’s Migration Festival Parade.

Making its way down Main Street, the parade showcased floats, horseback riders, and local marching bands, which has become as much of a tradition for some as the annual Santa Claus Parade.

The Marketplace took over the Kingsville Arena during the event, as visitors had the opportunity to purchase crafts, foods, and confectionaries from local vendors, who once again sold out every available booth.

Not to be left out of the fun, the event also featured a number of activities geared towards the younger visitors, including live demonstrations of birds of prey, horse rides, a barbeque, and a medieval village.

At its core, Migration Fest is still about the legacy of Jack Miner, and his popularization of many bird conservation methods that are still being used around the world today, including the practice of banding to track migratory birds.

Many of the festival’s visitors make their way to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary to see, first hand, the lasting legacy Jack Miner left on the conservation movement through a tour of his personal bird sanctuary on Road 3. Here, visitors toured his family home and the museum, and learn the story of what brought a young man from Ohio to Essex County on a mission to preserve and protect wildlife in all of its forms.

“Jack Miner is the father of heritage, the father of conservation here in Kingsville,” Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation Executive Director, Mary Baruth, said. “We have seen a major increase in the number of people attending all of the different events. It’s a rite of passage into fall, it’s something we look forward to each year, and is something that speaks to everyone here in the community.”