Park Party brings a splash of fun before rain

by Sylene Argent

On Friday afternoon, the Essex Centre BIA took over the Heritage Gardens Park to host its third annual “Fall in Love with Our Local Park Party,” event.

  Previously, the Essex Centre BIA hosted the fall event on Talbot Street, but elected to move into the local park this year to utilize the pavilion it installed through a unique partnership with the Town of Essex the year prior.

  There were plenty of opportunities for businesses to make connections and attendees to enjoy a lot of fun, before the rain put a damper on things.

Some Essex Centre BIA’s businesses, both new and existing, manned booths to share with residents information about their products and services. A few area restaurants also manned stations to offer food during the event, while representatives of the Essex Youth Centre hosted a 50/50 raffle to raise funds for its programs. Members of Essex District High School’s Rotary Interact Club volunteered to help out at the event in exchange for a donation for its local and global philanthropic efforts.     

  The musical talent of the Border City Brass band, played an array of music from classic rock, Motown, and funk.  A fun and unexpected replica “Bluesmobile” showed up on sight, with sirens a blaring, to enhance a few of the tunes played during the set.

  Stilt walker Mark Lefebvre was dressed as a scarecrow, to entertain and Brant Matthews, AKA – FireGuy, performed an array of fire and juggling tricks atop a hoverboard.  

  Matthews began his career after graduating from theatre school. He quickly learned how to jungle for a play he was producing. He used that new talent on the streets of Montreal as a performer, adding fire to the act. In 2018, Matthews set a Guinness World Record for most torches eaten in one minute (101).

  “I achieved one of the top things you can do in fire eating. I love [performing]. It brings the community together and makes people smile,” he said, adding that a great moment is when he wins over an audience.

  As far as advice to newer performers, Matthews suggests failing, then trying again. “Get good and expect to be bad, and keep learning,” he said.  

  He also spoke about persistence. A few years back, he was hired by the Raptors basketball team to perform for crowds of fans before a game. He showed up the next game with an invoice in hand. He was not scheduled to perform, but he said his invoice was accepted and he performed again. He did this for the whole season. For the last game of the season, he was called and asked to perform the half-time show.

  Matthews said of that experience that he took a risk by putting himself out there and knew being rejected was a possibility. But, the risk paid off for him.