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Summerfest marks Canada 150

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

DEEP RIVER – Another Summerfest ends with a bang.


On Sunday night, another four day festival of music, fun and excitement wrapped up with an explosion of fireworks as Deep River put to bed another edition of the volunteer-driven event.

More than 30 performers including local and regional bands kept things rocking all weekend long, despite a stormy and wet Saturday, and there remained plenty of things to do, from the traditional baseball tournament to the Giant Tiger Kids Zone activities, the show 'n shine car show, Bollywood dancing workshop, fancy dress parade, a magic show, and so much more.

If that weren't enough, the 34th annual Deep River Triathlon was run, with Len Gushe of Mattawa winning the contest, plus the kids triathlon; and there was a reunion for former students of Mackenzie High School, now Mackenzie Community School. There was literally something for everyone to do, see and experience.

Will Fitton, a member of the Summerfest committee, said the festival, which started in 1990, has been held once every two years since 2000 to keep volunteers from burning themselves out, and last year's re-booted festival went off as a successful one. However, with Canada 150, it was felt this was too big a deal to skip the event for the year. Instead, it went ahead as Summerfest 150.

“This is the first back-to-back year for us,” he said. Being a Canada 150 event meant the committee was able to apply for one-time grants, and since this was successful were able to have the best festival ever.

“It has been a great weekend,” Fitton said. “There's been a lot of great positive buzz this year.”

The event is entirely volunteer driven, which he described as a thankless labour of love. However, that is the secret of its continued success, as the entire community rallies around it.

“It is a lot of work,” Fitton said, “but Deep River is a great place for it.”

Summerfest has typically drawn nearly 5,000 people to Deep River over the course of the festival, which he said is a lot like a reunion weekend, with any people using the event as a reason to come back to see old friends and their hometown.

As to whether Summerfest will return next year, or its organizers decide to take a well deserved year off, Fitton said that is something the committee will have to discuss after the dust has settled from this year's event. 

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