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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Thousands flock to Kingsville’s dock for 2019 Tall Ships Festival

by Sylene Argent

Last Friday to Sunday, thousands of visitors flocked to Kingsville’s dock on Lake Erie to enjoy all the nautical-themed activates the 2019 Tall Ships Festival offered.

  As the only Canadian Port on Lake Erie to host this season’s Tall Ships Challenge ®, those in attendance were able to see, and in some cases explore, six vessels, including the Bluenose II, the Fair Jeanne – which is used for youth sailing camp, Picton Castle, Empire Sandy, HMCS Oriole, and The Canadian Coast Guard’s Thunder Cape. In addition, the Cedar Island Yacht Club had some of its boats nearby as well.

  In addition, visitors to the dock could enjoy visiting vendor tables, an array of food vendors, two licensed dock-side patio spots, live entertainment, and taking in stories from Seamus Gunn the historical storyteller. The event also offered an opportunity for youths in various camps to perform song and dance routines in front of an audience.

  A unique partnership made through the event, had members of the Art Society of Kingsville (ASK) paint the nautical-themed cut outs that were placed along the dock. Visitors were able to place their face in an opening to take a picture of themselves as the main feature of the painting.

    Those wanting to take their nautical experience one-step further had an opportunity to buy a pass to enjoy a one-and-a-half-hour sailing expedition aboard the tall ship, Empire Sandy. The additional festivities continued on Saturday night at the After Party at Grovedale House.

  Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos was pleasantly surprised how busy the festival turnout to be on the Friday. Within only two hours of kicking off the festivity, around 2000 visitors had passed through the gates.

  Through the Tall Ships challenge, vessels visit different places each year. With the tour headed through the Great Lakes this year, the program’s administrators reached out to Kingsville to see if there was interest in hosting the event, he noted.

  The 2019 Tall Ships event was a way to celebrated the Town’s marine history. Santos noted the Kingsville Dock is internationally recognized as a safe harbour.

  “We had an absolutely incredible turnout,” Santos said, noting many of the events offered through the 2019 Tall Ships Festival sold out. “When I see kids on the ships hearing stories of exploration and treasure, I see this [event] as a treasure for our harbour. It’s incredible.”  

  An event like the Tall Ships Festival is good for the Town, Santos said, as it brings families out to the harbour. This is the third event where Kingsville has welcomed tall ships to its harbour. The first was hosted in 2006, which was an anniversary celebration with the Kingsville BIA, with the second event hosted in 2012 as a bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812.

  The Town of Kingsville partnered with many organizations and businesses in the area to accommodate parking for the event. Shuttle services were offered from the Kingsville Arena.

  The event, he noted, attracted visitors from all around the region, in addition many out-of-town visitors.

  For more information about Kingsville’s events, visit

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