Thanksgiving festival a tradition

By The Tribune

With only about 10 new spots open each year, there’s a huge waiting list for crafters wanting to take part in the annual Ball's Falls Thanksgiving Festival, says Adam Christie.

Christie, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s manager of strategic initiatives, said the festival, in its 43rd year, is very popular and has a huge following.

“It’s a tradition. So many people come here, why wouldn’t you want to be here?” he said Saturday afternoon from the conservation area in Lincoln.

“Our goal is 25,000 people over the holiday weekend and we’re always around that.”

Christie said festival attendance is weather-dependent and added Ball’s Falls was packed after the rain Saturday morning.

“People make this a destination,” he said as visitors streamed through the conservation area to check out the 160 vendors and 12 food trucks.

The vendors come from all across Ontario, and there are some from Quebec who make the trip to Niagara to take part.

“It looks to be another successful one. We expect about 8,000 people today,” said conservation authority CAO Mark Brickell Saturday afternoon. “There’s lots of positive energy here.”

It was the first year at the event for Brickell as CAO of the conservation authority, but he said it fell under his portfolio when he was director of operations.

“I really enjoyed growing it. This is a great time for families … it’s a homecoming event. People come back year after year.”

He said the festival is the authority’s flagship event, held on its flagship property and that it’s the largest fundraiser as well.

“All of the funds go back into conservation efforts.”

Brickell said he was very proud of conservation authority staff and all of the volunteers who help out at the event.

Christie said it takes an army of volunteers, more than 100 of them, including NPCA staff, to pull off the festival. It takes four days to get the property set up for the event.

“I appreciate them all. I also can’t say enough about the Eco-Defenders … what they save in waste and garbage is incredible.”

The Eco-Defenders are a group that keeps recycling and compost separate at large events and festivals and prevent unnecessary waste from going to area landfills.

Christie said in addition to the vendors, NPCA was offering tours of the Ball home and operating the grist mill, which was selling flour ground on site. There was also a blacksmith demonstration and a children’s area with pony and train rides, face painting and bouncy castles.

“Country 89 was operating the stage with a lot of local, award-winning artists,” Christie said.

Christie said in addition to the festival, families could go on hikes and take in both the upper and lower falls at the conservation area.

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