Cabaggetown Festival by John Ramspott
There are so many events going on in Toronto over the summer that it can be hard to pick out which ones to carve out time for. If you’re looking for a warm family feel and a whole lot of culture then the Cabbagetown Festival just might be the perfect fit. It’s held annually on the second weekend of September and has events going from Thursday to Sunday. This year experienced some rockier weather than is typical with plenty of rain on Saturday and overcast skies here and there. But the Festival continues on rain or shine and most years you can count on superb forecasts. So don’t let 2012’s rocky weather keep you away in years to come!
The majority of the Festival is focused on kid-friendly activities but those in need of some adult time, could check out One Night that took place on the Thursday evening before the festival. Just 10$ got you a ticket for samples of drinks and appetizers at some of the best bars and restaurants in Cabbagetown. This year for example, had the Stout Irish Pub offering half pints of Mill Street Organic Lager and it came complete with entertainment from an Irish dancing group. If you happened to be in need of something to eat you could head to OMI Sushi for tuna and oysters or Red Cranberries Restaurant for stellar wings. The Winchester Kitchen & Bar was even offering samples of beer, bourbon cocktails and fish cakes. The event started at 7 p.m. and went until closing so there was plenty of time to visit all the ones you wanted to try. Participating was as simple as stopping by one of the restaurants involved to pick up a ticket a few days before the event.
Cabbagetown Festival Poster
A great way to start Saturday off was by taking part in the Blair’s Run for the Cabbagetown Youth Centre. Before the race kids from the centre sung a cheery song to thank the runners for their participation (and to help them forget about the rain!). Then everyone took part in a quick 2.5km run through the streets and alleys of Cabbagetown. There were also some wonderful refreshments such as coffee, muffins and sports drinks for participants before and after the race. Just $15 dollars lets you take part and try your luck at winning some of the great prizes awarded to the top four participants in each age group. There were great gift cards donated by some of the best establishments in Cabbagetown. It was a true family race where there was no shame in crossing the finish line with kids in tow well after the winners.
Art and Crafts Festival
Heading East from Parliament St. towards the Art and Crafts Festival going on in Riverdale Park was a great option for lovers of handmade items. It took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday so there were plenty of chances to catch it. And if you happened to walk along Winchester and/or Carlton you could check out all types of booths people had set up along the sidewalks. Some were just individuals holding friendly yard sales. But there were also some great antique shops and independent vendors that weren’t part of the Art and Crafts Festival but had some great pieces for sale. In the park there was a multitude of wonderful artisans specialized in painting, photography, wood carving, jewellery making, pottery, food, clothing, glass blowing and more. The exhibitors were carefully selected so only the best got in. If you’re planning on attending in 2013, keep in mind that because virtually all the pieces are designed and handmade by the artisans, they cost more than what you’d find in a chain or department store. So be prepared to spend a little extra for these one-of-a-kind items.
Parliament Street Festival
Cabbagetown Festival by Ocad123
The most prominent aspect of the Festival took place on Saturday and Sunday when they shut down Parliament Street. There was an assortment of vendors, informational booths and entertainment going on from Gerrard to Wellesley. To keep things lively there were different forms of music at every corner. So whether you were a fan of steel drums, indie bands, classical strings or top 40, you could take a moment to sit down and soak in your favorite tunes.
The majority of the food was clustered North of Winchester Street. Because Parliament is known for being extraordinarily multicultural, there truly was something for everyone. There was Malaysian cuisine, corn on the cob, samosas, meat kebabs, Thai to go, popcorn, roti, chicken masala, burgers, bacon on a bun, nachos, sausages, pizza and more. Or if you were in the mood for something sweet you’d be happy to find churros, sherbet, mango lassis and ice cream. Many of the restaurants such as Young Thailand, House on Parliament and several others set up large patios in front of their buildings so you could sit down and enjoy a refreshing drink or snack. The Winchester Kitchen & Bar even had a live band playing at theirs.
South of Winchester Street you could find all types of booths. Many of the stores on the street set up displays in front of their establishments so you could get a real feel for what’s available in the area. There was everything from clothing, to jewellery, to sauces and more. And if you wanted to learn more about some of the kids activities in the community (i.e. scouts, dancing, karate) you could stop by those booths as well. Cabbagetown dwellers and anyone in the surrounding area could learn all about the community’s events and organizations.
And if the kids needed some time to unwind there were plenty of children’s games and even a bouncy castle for their entertainment. These activities and other items such as face painting and balloons could be found down at the corner of Gerrard and Parliament. Unfortunately, the parade which is always a treat for the kids didn’t happen this year as it has in years past but hopefully 2013 will see its return!