Friendship Festival to return to Simcoe

Kathleen Lamouroux and Doreen Oates, members of the planning committee for the Civic Holiday weekend celebration, hold up a photo of an old alligator boat. The theme for the 2020 event will be Gator Days to honour the heritage of the boats being crafted in town. Ashley Taylor/Delhi News Record

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A group of about 10 volunteers has formed to resurrect the former Friendship Festival.

While they aren’t sure about the name of the event staying exactly the same, Kathleen Lamouroux, Doreen Oates, and the rest of the Simcoe planning committee have big goals for the Civic Holiday weekend celebration.

For the past three years the weekend’s Lynn River Music and Arts Festival was run by the Port Dover Board of Trade. The board took over planning the festival from the Rotary Club of Simcoe in 2017.

“It’s a difficult thing to do, and I think they’ve done really well,” Lamouroux said about the Port Dover Board of Trade’s years of running the festival. “If nothing else, they’ve maintained it. They’ve kept it going, which is awesome.”

The board was willing to hand over the weekend to the new committee.

“The festival has always been about community and when an organized group from Simcoe approached the board to take over running the entire weekend’s events, we heard their plans and agreed,” Nick Childs, board president, said in a press release. “This group brings new ideas and new energy to the festival and we wish them every success.”

The 2020 event is going to be themed Gator Days to pay homage to the alligator boats that were crafted in Simcoe. Their goal moving forward is to theme each year around a different part of Simcoe’s history.

The hopes for the event is to bring back old traditions such as the Friendship Festival queen, which will be renamed ambassador, and eventually the kickoff parade.

Lamouroux said that Simcoe is defined by the fair, the Christmas Panorama, and the civic holiday festival by visitors. She wants to help continue this image of the community.

In a letter sent out to local businesses by the committee mentions that vendor costs for the event will not be as high as they have been in the past.

Service clubs around Norfolk County, downtown businesses, Norfolk OPP, fire, and paramedics are being asked to pitch in.

“We want all of Simcoe, all of Norfolk County involved in this,” said Lamouroux. “If we all come together I think we can achieve exactly what our focus is.”

A fundraising event was held Nov. 2 at the Army, Navy, and Air Force Club in Simcoe.

The group is currently looking for donations and sponsors. Anyone wishing to donate or volunteer on the board can reach out to Lamouroux at kathy@networkescape.com.

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