Sunday, September 2, 2012

The search for a Dundas cactus...

We're coming to the end of our second summer in Hamilton, yet somehow last year we missed out on the Dundas Cactus Festival.

I have a feeling it had something to do with it being on at the same time as the chili cook-off on Augusta Street, but somehow this year, even with me being in my third trimester, we managed to cram both festivals in! (We had family in town that weekend, which always means more activities than usual!)

Anyway - the Cactus Festival....

Truth be told, we didn't even know it was on...or what it was. We decided to take my mother-in-law to Dundas to have a look around and low and behold, there was something afoot (food trucks, vendors, etc. were busy setting up.)

The first thing all three of us said was "Cactus festival? Here? I don't see any cacti..."

We decided to go into a local establishment to ask about the origins of this Cactus festival - a question to which no one really knew the answer, but a woman did seem shocked that we were asking. "You've never BEEN to the CACTUS FESTIVAL before?" she asked....

Ummm, unfortunately not, my hubby replied - we're still fairly recent Toronto transplants.

She proceeded to tell us about how it is the biggest festival of the year (according to the website, the festival attracts 100,000 people), and there would be live music, vendors, FOOD, etc. Obviously, we decided to stick around.

(After doing some basic research, I learned that the festival is an unofficial 'homecoming' event and bears its name as a result of Dundas' recognition as a producer of greenhouse cacti.)

Given that we were there right when the festival kicked off at 6pm on a Friday night (although we did miss the Cactus Festival parade!), it wasn't in full swing - but the place was packed.

What we found at the Cactus Festival was your usual mix of jewellery, clothes and service vendors (many of the King St. storefronts had little booths outside), as well as LOTS of food options (including our favourite food trucks!). This time around, we opted for a festival-appropriate dinner choice, the aptly-named Thirsty Cactus.

As we wandered up and down King St. that evening, we realized that this was not only a popular festival about which Dundas residents seemed extremely excited and proud, but also a great free event (akin to so many other summer festivals in Hamilton) that importantly allow the community to get out, interact and see the best that certain towns and neighbourhoods have to offer - but we never did spy a cactus!

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