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From the Desk of the CEO Jill Raycroft

Coming in this week following the Chamber's first "Canada Day" event and jumping right back in to coordinating final details for Waterfront, my typical Chamber duties are placed on the back burner so "from the desk of" this week is going to be way more about the upcoming great event than our fundamental advocacy work - but worry not, because as soon as Waterfront is over, the municipal election will be on our radar and I will be asking you what you want to see happen at City Hall that will support your business!

But, back to Waterfront!  In fact, the 40th anniversary of this Festival and our 4th year in a row being ranked as one of the top 100 Festivals in Ontario!  Some of you may remember the years when it started as a "passport" in 1978 for food sampling at various locations around the city where various ethnic communities gathered their families to prepare food we couldn't find in local restaurants.  The Ethnic Council then determined it would be easier for people to attend if they came together and offered the food in a single location...  and then Waterfront, focused on music and fun - took place at other venues.  Over the years, the two combined and after a couple of years of redefining the Festival - the past 10 or so have brought us to what we have now.  Favourite foods return this year - including the Dutch, Italian, & Tibetan menus and welcoming back newer additions of Mexican & Indian and a brand new offering from Syria this year in the Redpath Multicultural Food Village.  Last year, we added local craft beer to the mix and this attracted a whole new crowd to the Festival and we welcome back three of our local brewers this year - MacKinnon, Prince Eddy's & Signal Brewing.

And then, there's the music!  For many years, headline bands came to the area for Waterfront and while the Festival continues to bring in great talent to cover the sounds we all relate to (coincidentally, this is also the 40th anniversary for Grease so that's happening all Saturday afternoon) - this year definitely celebrates local talent as well.  Favourites such as The Far Side, Melanie Hilmi & Emily Fennell will be playing over the weekend. 

For families, the first midway of the season is here - and we offer the best value for all day ride bracelets if you plan ahead ($25 until this Wednesday at the Log Cabin).  In honour of our 40th, we're getting the Century Ferris wheel back this year (it's bigger, brighter and you'll get an amazing view of the Bay from the top).  But that's just part of the fun!  The Children's Village also includes a small stage area this year and we had so much fun with wandering buskers last year, we've added more and created a space where you relax and watch them throughout the day.  Ultimutts & the Canine Watersports teams are back and definitely worth coordinating into your schedule.

Last to mention, but bigger than ever is our Marketplace with over 50 vendors and displays this year.  An eclectic selection of international jewellery, clothing and other items under tents will have you thinking you're in a European market.  

No day is the same and for $5/day for parking (or free shuttles from the Quinte Mall or downtown terminal) - it's worth planning to visit not once, but every day!  Visit our website at bellevillewaterfrontfestival.com for full details.

I'll be helping out at the Craft Beer Garden - be sure to stop in and say hello!