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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Plenty of entertainment, activities packed into 2022 Essex Fun Fest

by Sylene Argent

After a two-year hiatus, the Essex Fun Fest was back in town to deliver a packed schedule of events and activities for all to enjoy over its four-day duration. A little something special was offered to pique the interest of nearly anyone.

  From the Essex Centre Sports Complex grounds, the Essex Fun Fest kicked off last Thursday evening with the annual, and popular Youth Talent Showcase and the new Sip ‘N Shop Wine Mixer. This was followed by Friday’s main stage entertainment from The Van Halen Invasion.

  Saturday’s parade began at Medora Avenue this year, and travelled down to the festival grounds. This year’s parade theme was “Celebrating Year of the Garden.” As they proceeded through the parade route, the floats were judged on overall appearance, creativity, and originality. First place will win $500, second place will earn $250, and third place will receive $100 for their charities of choice.  The Essex Festival Committee will announce the top three float entrants this week.

  As the parade disembarked, fairgoers were able to check out the many custom, classic, and antique vehicles on display down Fairview Avenue as part of this year’s car show, before heading into the fairgrounds to shop at the vendor booths, seek out something to eat at the food booths, or try their luck at games or hop on a thrilling ride set up along the carnival midway World’s Finest Shows offered for the event.   

  Saturday’s schedule of events offered demonstrations from Off Kilter equine entertainment, performances from Jangles the Clown, the announcement of the 2022 Essex Citizen of the Year award, and main stage entertainment from Canadian country music artist, Eric Ethridge.

  Essex Festival Committee Co-Chairperson, Councillor Joe Garon, was pleased to note around 1500 individuals attended Saturday’s main concert performance, before the fireworks display closed out the evening.

  Sunday’s festivities offered an interdenominational church service at the Heritage Gardens Park, which Harrow United Church’s Pastor Darrow Woods led, the annual watermelon eating contest, Roberto the Painfully Mediocre Magician, Border City Wrestling, and a performance from Just Heart, a tribute to sisters of rock, Ann and Nancy Wilson.   

  The Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) sponsored Sunday’s horseshoe tournament, with the winning team being Lionel Ouellette and Rudy Wrey. Second place was earned by Russ McLean and Chad Grey, third place went to Mike Neals and Mike Spence, and Fourth Place was earned by Kenny Loucks and Tom Long.

   Throughout the weekend, other entertainment included demonstrations from the Craz-E-Crew Stunt Team, sing-a-longs with Enchanted Adventures, and fun in the Kids’ Zone. Musical performances across the four-day festival included appearances from “Broken Silence,” “The Formula,” “Gritty Angels Band,” “Exit 31,” and “No Dress Code.”

  In speaking to vendors, representatives from World’s Finest Shows, and seeing the crowds onsite over the duration of the four-day festival, Garon suspects attendance was good, possibly even record-breaking.

  “We were quite pleased with how everything turned out, and with the weather,” Garon said on behalf of his planning committee.

  Every year, the Essex Festival Committee tries to make improvements to make the experience even better than it was the year before. Some of those changes this year included offering some onsite parking, adding shade tents in the food court, and moving the main stage area onto grass to help keep concertgoers cooler.   

  The new Sip ‘N Shop event, Garon added, was well received, and he sees opportunity for it to continue on and even expand.

  “We try to offer something for everybody,” Garon added. In the future, he said the Committee will look to add more entertainment for teens. 

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