Opening weekend attendance was down slightly at Upper Canada Village.
Gabriele Thomas Supervisor, Youth, Education and Domestic Programs, spoke with The Leader following opening weekend.
“Everything is open and operational again,” said Thomas. She’s not sure why but every year, leading up to the big weekend there’s always a bit of worry and doubt. “It’s like when you’re doing a play, you’re never sure you’re going to be ready, but somehow it comes together.”
Thomas credits the knowledgeable and skillful staff with the ultimate success of the opening weekend.
Though admissions were down slightly, she still sees the weekend as a success.
The uncertain weather throughout the weekend is likely the major reason for the slightly lower admissions.
With the reciprocal program whereby visitors to one attraction automatically receive admission to another of the St. Lawrence Parks attractions, Thomas believes a lot of those reciprocal visitors were missing from this year’s opening weekend gates.
“With the weather, I think we really lost out on some of that, especially from the campgrounds.”
Thomas is looking forward to the rest of the season.
Over the next few weeks the village will be bustling with grade three children from area schools. They visit the village and try their hand at 18 different activities that tie in with their school curriculum.
The most popular weekend events are all returning for the season. Also returning for May and June are the biplane rides.
For those who want a different kind of ride, the village train now offers two loops, one to Crysler Beach and the other to Crysler Marina.
“It now has improved commentary, so for those who have not been on it for a long time, it may be worth a try again,” said Thomas.
One of the biggest events this summer may be the Bicentennial of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. It takes place in July. “So far, almost 500 re-enactors are coming,” said Thomas, adding that she expects about 600 to participate.
She explained that the camps and vendors will be set up in the middle section of the property, right near the entrance so they will be visible right from the highway.
“It should be quite the event.”
One of the new attractions this year will be a greatly expanded food lovers weekend, in which the commission plans to invite local food vendors and breweries to participate. “It should be a lot of fun,” said Thomas of the August event.
In the fall, British Home Child Day will be marked, and the parks have an agreement with the local British Home Child group who will be offering a presentations at the Aultsville train station.
The popular Pumkinferno will be back, and improved in the fall and Alight a Night returns in the winter.
“We are hoping to extend the village season, because it’s good for the whole area,” said Thomas, claiming the success of Pumpkinferno truly showed the positive economic impact that extends to the community. “It is good for us, and it is good for the surrounding community.”