A toddlers memory isn’t sharp, which means if something is remembered from those years, then that something must have been extremely impacting. What’s your toddler memory? Mine was Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival.
What Makes This Festival So Great?
Put on by The Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce, Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival takes place annually, with July 7th-10th 2016 being its 32nd year running. Home to West Zwick’s Park in Belleville, Ontario, it is currently ranked in the top 10 4-day festivals for Eastern Ontario, and has received the Festivals & Events Ontario Award as one of the Top 100 Festivals in Ontario. Having roughly 35,000 people attend this year’s festival, which includes 3000 tourists, I am proud to say that I am not the only one who believes Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival is the Quinte Region’s most compelling tourist attraction.
Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival has something for everyone to enjoy. For those wanting to taste foods from all over the world, travel no further than Bay Bridge Road. Every year, there is an ethnic food village, with this passed year having 12 different ethnic food tents! I have an Italian background, so getting to try other culture’s foods is a personal treat. My recommendation is that you attend next years festival and head right to the Portuguese tent to order their chicken. They have this special way of making their chicken that makes it taste scrumptiously unique from all other recipes. And by special, I mean extra special, because this recipe is top secret! Through a few sources, I heard that the seasoning and exact recipe for this chicken is only known by the person who puts it all together. It’s THAT good!
The ethnic celebrations don’t just stop at the food village. Every year, there are ethnic performances put on. For instance, my Nina, being apart of the Italian Club, organized an Italian folkloric dance show for entertainment. My dad danced in it, my older cousins, and eventually I did too! Beginning at one year old, my Nina dressed me up in her handmade folkloric dress and had me jumping around on stage. 12 years later was the last performing year of this group, where I was honoured to be titled Miss Italia and speak on behalf of the club. Other entertainment includes the annual flashmob Quinte Ballet School of Canada puts on, which I had the privilege of being apart of the past two years (hint: watch video below), the folkloric dancing that the Greek put on, and live music acts. Fresh fact: Did you know that one of this year’s acts, the Fiddleheads, gave me a shoutout during their set! It felt pretty cool to be given a shoutout by a famous band.
The fun doesn’t cut short at the food or entertainment though. Love watching dog shows? Head up to the hill adjacent to the pavilion. How about getting henna tattoos, getting face paint done, shopping, or entering contests? Head over to the main pathway of vendors guiding you through the park. Ever wanted to fly in a helicopter, parasail, or dragon boat race? Head over to the water’s end. Have children? Bring them to the Children’s Village where they can go swimming, rock climbing, enjoy pony rides, and more. Speaking of rides, Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival also features Midway. With plenty of fair rides and games variety, everyone and anyone has something to enjoy!
How can I get to West Zwick’s Park in time for the festival, especially during traffic prime time?
Take city transit! Thanks to the City of Belleville, a shuttle bus runs to and from the Belleville bus terminal, conveniently located downtown, and West Zwick’s Island Park. Plus, it’s completely free! This way, not only are you saving money on a parking fee, but
also are helping with global warming by carpooling.
How do I plan a day spent at Belleville’s Waterfront and Ethnic Festival
Beginning at noon, head over to the Ethnic Food Village to soak up some culture – eat good food, watch some dancing, and listen to some live music. I suggest you also squeeze some time to see what some four legged friends are up to at the dog show. Go for dinner around 5pm, explore the vendors, and then hit up the fair until it closes at 11pm. With such a vibrant surrounding, you can’t help but have a good time throughout the day! It’s always the best to be on the farris wheel at night: getting to the top of the loop and looking down on the entire park, you get to see the live concerts happening closer to the water, as well as the bright light show below you.
Participation Since One
As introduced, I’ve been apart of this festival every year, whether it be dancing in it, helping serve food at the Italian tent, or being apart of the opening ceremonies. The opening ceremonies just got added to my list this past weekend, where I got to speak about my journey to Miss Teenage Canada. Being apart of the opening ceremonies was another moment I’ll never forget – not only has it helped to shape my wonderful reign as Miss Teenage South Central Ontario, but on a personal note, I got to speak alongside the role models that I look up to from the community – MP for Bay of Quinte, MP for Prince Edward-Hastings, Councillor of Belleville ….etc.
I wonder how I’ll be involved in the festival next year? Or better question, I wonder how long until next summer’s festival?! It’s just so fun, I can hardly wait for it to come. And I can hardly wait to enjoy it with you as well! See you there.
Miss Teenage South Central Ontario 2016