Review by Danny Gaisin
We Gaisins have been Hamiltonian for a decade, but studiously avoided attending our city’s annual ‘Festival of Friends’; having erroneously thinking it was a Quaker religious retreat!. Nope, no affiliation with the 17th century Anglican offshoot started by George Fox. Instead, its an opportunity for neighbours to meet outdoors and have free access to music, creative arts, food, drink, and political candidate or organizational affiliation booths. One group of regulars even mentioned that back in their dating dates, it was a super ‘pick-up’ opportunity!
For us, this was an occasion to get out the tandem and bicycle over…something we old farts are usually looking for excuses NOT to utilize.
The event has a noticeably strong atmosphere of cordiality and camaraderie even among strangers slightly jostled by the large crowd of attendees. As grandparents, it was the faces of little kids that was a standout feature. Resting near the pony rides, we surreptitiously watched the child-like evolution from curiosity to fear, to actually riding and then the expressions of accomplishment after the dismount. Naturally, we never even considered the Ferris wheel or other bone-shaking instruments of torture that are universally accompanied with squeals of fright or excitement; but they too added counterpoint to the cacaphonic atmosphere.
Two stages offered both local and widely recognized entertainment. The administration cleverly schedules both the shell and band-stage offerings at non conflicting times, so there’s no competition for audiences. Some of the liquid refreshment offerings were priced more than a little exorbitantly. Still, with the temperature hovering around 34o C, I imagine that sales were continual and brisk.
With an opportunity to meet some of the hopeful Ward 3 councillors; we were able to find one (Dan Smith) that intends to get the city to synchronize the lights on King Street as they are on Main. Less pollution; better fuel economy and safer driving conditions somehow evaded our incumbent Green’s consideration. Wanted to meet Mayor Eisenberg but didn’t spot his booth. We felt a need to congratulate him on taking care of business; unlike Toronto’s John Tory who spend the majority of his day preening in front of CP24’s TV cameras.
The next big public event is the James St. N. Art Crawl starting Friday (Aug. 10th) and has, if history reprises, has something for everyone. But methinks downtown is a little too far from Ward 3 for tandem-ing…might have to use the scooter! See you there.