“The truth is, if you come to South Dundas you’re going to want to come back every year because it’s such a welcoming place to come to,” said Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon.
Lauzon was one of several people invited to the official opening of the 2nd annual Galop-Canal Bluegrass Festival on June 15th at the Iroquois Locks.
According to organizing committee member Geraldine Fitzsimmons, this year’s festival, lasting from Friday, June 15th through Sunday, June 17th, saw a definite increase in guests.
“Gate admission was up from last year, which tells me that more people came,” she said.
In addition, there were 93 campers on site to enjoy the sunny weather and bluegrass music, also an increase from last year’s number.
“There were not a lot of local people,” said Fitzsimmons, who is hoping that next year the organizing committee is able to find ways to entice more locals to attend the weekend-long event.
As for those who did show up, “they all just loved it. Everybody really loves our community.”
Fitzsimmons pointed out that several of the campers had taken trips into Iroquois to go shopping.
Several of these people, she explained, had never been to South Dundas before or had been here during last year’s festival and liked it so much that they decided to return.
This year’s event saw a few changes from last year, including the addition of local vendors on-site.
The Ottawa Bluegrass Association and the Morrisburg and District Lions Club donated the use of tents to provide guests with a little shade while the Riverside Heights Snowmobile Association donated the use of some chairs for those who needed them.
Like last year, the Iroquois Matilda Lions Club hosted an on-site barbecue.
While this year was filled with “growing pains,” Fitzsimmons and the Bluegrass Festival’s organizing committee are taking note of what worked and what didn’t so that they can make next year’s event even better.
Members of the organizing committee include Fitzsimmons, Mike Anderson, Doris Clary, Dick Cropp, Barb and Jerry Gurnhill, Sharon and Dick Piche, Paul and Ruth Robertson as well as a representative from the Iroquois Matilda Lions Club.
The Bluegrass Festival is a major fundraiser for the Galop Canal Revitalization Project whose goal is to restore the Galop Canal, bringing life back to the Iroquois waterfront. The project is also an attempt to protect and preserve the history of the area.