© Carole Morris-Underhill
Sarah Leopold greets spectators lined up for the first annual Avon River Days parade with a smile.
It may not have been called Sam Slick Days this year, but the latest incarnation of a summer festival in Windsor has the makings of a classic.
Avon River Days was the community's response to the demise of Windsor-West Hants Summer Fest — a festival that just didn't live up to expectations after the society behind it forced the name change upon residents. (It replaced the original Sam Slick Days after a controversial image was published and taken out of context. The name change, which the public had no input into, didn't have the impact, or community support backing it, that the original festival had. It was doomed from the get-go.)
After last year's lacklustre event, it became apparent that the community would need to get involved if they hoped to save the festival. And get involved they did.
Volunteers from all walks of life offered to lend a hand in the planning and executing of the festival. The result was a fairly well-organized festival that really highlights some of the positive events that folks remember fondly from Sam Slick Days.
Whether it was the downtown street dance on the Friday night, which drew several hundred people out to party, the parade Saturday afternoon, which featured floats and entries that charmed the crowd, or the myriad of events scattered throughout the three-day festival, the committee ensured there was something appealing for all ages.
The volunteers managed to salvage the remnants of the former festival and make something worthwhile attending. Kudos to them and to the residents who gave it a chance.
While the festival will always be Sam Slick Days for some, the planning committee behind this year's revamped event should be commended for their hard work and dedication in pulling together a festival the town can be proud of.
The committee has the chance to grow this festival into something great. If they continue to seek public input, and are open to constructive criticism, Avon River Days may just become the summer festival this community has been waiting for.
Although the festival wasn't perfect — there's still that unusual 20-minute gap near the beginning of the parade — it was a vast improvement over recent years. So much so that people are now considering sticking around town next year to attend it.
And that, in and of itself, speaks volumes as to how far the festival has been turned around.