It is like a cloud of locusts descending on land and water. It is also a tradition. That means it is both good and bad. It happens every year for the long weekend at the beginning of August. It is something of a tribal rite. It is an amusement park and an outdoor concert. It features more than 400 tents for hawkers of antiques, crafts, food and unusual and sundry services. It is a poor person’s Canadian National Exhibition. It girds the Bay at Babel and strangles local traffic.
For Saturday and Sunday, this year, the Fest was blessed with sun and warm breezes. Cars are parked helter-skelter for blocks around the bay, many blocking the egress of others. The mood remains friendly and festive. The bay itself is a a haven for houseboats and yachts, power boats and sail. Smart exhibitors use boats for sleeping accommodation during the gruelling three days.
Many boaters come to anchor offshore to hear the concerts at the Main Stage and Beer Garden on Saturday and Sunday. This main entertainment venue was moved this year to reduce the complaints from the condominium owners at the west end of the bay. The organizers moved it to the other end of the event on the south shore of the bay. The stage and speakers are all angled excellently to bounce the sound off the water and people on the east end of the bay can now hear the music with greater clarity…and volume!
It was surprising to learn this year that the Fest is not near and dear to the hearts of all Babelites. In fact some of the more vocal opponents are those who resent the fact that almost every weekend of the summer is taken up with some event on the lakefront. To me it is what makes Babel exciting and fun. One of the events that many hated were the go-cart races that closed the roads and provided us with front row seats. They were raucous and noisy and loaded with displays of skill and daring. When the Lakeshore construction is finished (whenever?), we sure hope they come back to Babel.
Checking with many of the vendors on this last day of the event, the word heard most often is “awesome.” The vendors were ecstatic about the crowds, the friendly mood, the wonderful weather and even if the weather threatened a bit on the last day, the rains held off and the event closed on a high note. What more could you ask?
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