Sunday, August 7, 2011

Festival of Friends and a very Hamilton weekend

Here we are, at the end of a VERY Hamiltonian weekend.

I have to admit that the original plan this weekend was to head into Toronto. Since Ontario Place announced that they would have free admission all summer long, we have been trying to make time to go (its one of my favourite childhood places, and I wanted to check it out again) and decided we would try this weekend.

It didn't happen.

Leading up to Friday, we were constantly hearing about the "Festival of Friends" and how wonderful it is. One person on Twitter called it "the essence of Hamilton"...with a description like that, we decided we had no choice but to check it out. I was also intrigued by the name "Festival of Friends" an aside, early on in our Hamilton experience, I observed that all of the festivals in Hamilton have very interesting names (case in point: "It's Your Festival"...)

After some serious navigating on Saturday afternoon, we found Ancaster Fairgrounds, parked in the field for $6 (pretty reasonable, compared to what you'd be charged in the T-dot for a similar event) and headed into the festival for FREE.

It was pretty much what you'd expect - lots of food, vendors, a carnival, and of course, music.

What made it unique though, was the Hamilton-ness of it this, I mean that a lot of the vendors were local companies I recognized from Twitter (Gorilla Cheese and Cupcake Diner, for example), which gave us the opportunity to try a variety of awesome local eats. We were also able to buy some local decorative-type items for our new place.

Eventually, we settled down with a beer in the fenced-in beer garden (a concept I think is pretty silly, but that's for another time...) and listened to the afternoon band playing on the main stage. While we didn't see any "friends" at this festival, it was great to be able to enjoy some Hamilton-specific summer activities.

As a result of fortunate timing (a complete fluke, really!) we managed to get out of there before the massive rainstorm came down, and I imagine everyone would have been crowding into the craft vendor buildings...

I hear that this festival used to be held in Gage Park...I can't even imagine what that would have done to traffic in the area, given how many people were at Ancaster Fairgrounds on Saturday. Hubby thinks Hamilton should try to get the Festival of Friends back to Gage Park, as long as there's enough transit available to take people there. At the moment, I think Ancaster Fairgrounds is probably the right place for it -basically, there's more parking, although I'm sure that more transit from various parts of town to this festival (in the middle of nowhere) would be welcome.

Anyway, I conclude that: Festival of Friends + mucho eating out in Hamilton + working on our Hamilton house = we're officially Hamiltonians now :)

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