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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

New ‘Sip and Shop’ kicks-off Fun Fest

by Garrett Fodor

The Essex Fun Fest activities were kicked off on Thursday evening in a new way last week.

  After a more than a two-year hiatus, the Essex Fun Fest returned last Thursday evening, opening with old favourites, and a new “Sip and Shop” event, which was hosted inside the Bavarian Gardens at the festival fairgrounds.  

  “Since it has been so long, it was easy for the [Essex Festival] Board to let some activities go and try some new ones,” Katie McGuire-Blais said, who is a member of the Festival Committee and sits on the Essex Sip and Shop Committee. “As a Board, we were trying to find ways to bring different kinds of people together, including those who might not otherwise have attended the festival. We want it to engage more with the community. We contacted some local vendors and wineries from Harrow and Colchester and that’s how ‘Sip and Shop’ happened.”

  McGuire-Blais noted the event happened very quickly, with the early stages beginning in February, and the planning Committee cautiously optimistic. Planning quickly ramped up in the last four-to-six weeks.

  Local wines, paired with cheese and other fine snacks, were offered at the event, in addition to live entertainment, including a performance by Essex’s Adam Zanier.

  While being a part of the Essex Fun Fest, the event also served as a fundraiser for Autism Ontario and Community Living Essex County, with part of the proceeds from each ticket sold going to the charities, which helped to partner and sell advance tickets to the event.  

  “I think I can say the entire Board was happy with turnout from the event,” McGuire-Blais commented. “It turned out to be a great event for everyone of age, young and old. We were extremely happy with the turnout and it was a great way to showcase some of the local businesses.”

  Continuing on through the weekend, the Essex BIA had shops along main street partake in the annual sidewalk sale, as well as selling refreshments and snacks. A crowd pleaser, following the annual parade down Talbot Street. Concluding the night, the Essex Centre BIA sponsored the firework display on Saturday night. 

  “We’re excited to be back and be able to participate and partner with the Fun Fest,” McGuire-Blais said, who is also an Essex BIA Committee Board member. “It’s a way for businesses to say ‘thank you’ to the community for supporting them, especially through COVID. We as the BIA are very excited for what’s coming and are happy to be back in the community and start doing more activities again.”

  McGuire-Blais was grateful for the support of the participating businesses and the community throughout the weekend and over the course of the last two-years.


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