Summer Festival Brings Crowds Back to Downtown Ridgeway

Maria Orsini, Lee Ann Pocknell and Lucy (the dog), of St. Catharines, arrived at Ridgeway on Saturday driving a 1977 Volkswagen Westfalia to take part in a car show at the Ridgeway Summer Festival.

Downtown Ridgeway was buzzing with excitement and energy this weekend that the small village hadn’t seen in two years.

Huge crowds of people gathered on Ridge Road for the return of the Ridgeway Summer Festival on Saturday July 9, which offered all the favorites: food, buskers, children’s activities, pony rides, visits with characters from movies and children’s favorite TV and live music, plus shopping provided by local businesses and artisans.

It was the first time the festival had been held since it was put on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival is traditionally a multi-day event, but it has been reduced to one day this year.

“It’s fun,” said Grace-Anna, who attended the festival with her parents and siblings Elijah and Izaeah Hood.

When asked what his favorite part of the festival was, Hood had an answer.

“Cotton candy,” she said, with a smile on her face.

Vincent Verboncoeur, a member of the Fort Erie Arts Council, set up an easel in the street and placed his paintbrush on a canvas so viewers could see him creating art up close.

“I was asked to do a live session (during the festival) and I said absolutely. Everything has gone well so far,” Verboncoeur said.

The artist described festival attendance as excellent.

“It’s been super busy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd like this,” he said.

The Rods and Relics Car Club in Fort Erie featured dozens of cars, including Lee Ann Pocknell and Maria Orsini’s lime green 1977 Volkswagen Westfalia.

St. Catharines residents said they enjoy attending car shows because it brings joy to people who come to see the vehicles.

“We love to see our car put a smile on someone’s face,” Pocknell said.

David H. Henry