Changes are afoot for Unionville’s annual street festival

The Unionville Festival introduces several new elements this year. The festival will be consolidated into one day, except for the Friday night dance. Brought back for the 50th anniversary last year, the dance was a big success.

“We’re doing the dance Friday night and just the festival on Saturday, June 6,” said festival chair John Cabrelli, adding that it increased to four days in 2019 in honour of the 50th anniversary. “We’ve had Saturday and Sunday for a number of years but it’s a lot of volunteer work and a lot of extra money for the two days.

“It used to be just one day and we feel we can give people more entertainment on the one day. They won’t miss any events we’re just going to tighten up the schedule and have it all on one day.”

A large parade kicks off Saturday and the festival is capped in the evening with a fireworks display. In between there is a lot of fun to be had with the Funky 5K Run and 2K Walk, Village Market, Fun Zone for kids, Family Fun Day in Crosby Park,  the York-Durham Heritage Railway, Krazy Kraft Race, Rubber Duck Race, Bavarian Garden,  and more.

The most popular events are the fireworks, the parade, and the Friday dance.

“The Friday dance that we brought back last year was huge,” said Cabrelli, “We hadn’t had it in years and thought for the 50th it would be a great thing to bring it back.

“It’s was an unbelievable evening. A lot of people came out that hadn’t seen each other for 10, 15, 20 years and they reconnected with friends. So we’re going to do again this year.”

The Blackboard Blues Band will also be returning to provide live entertainment at the dance. The main street will once again be closed.

The Unionville Festival has grown from a protest event to a weekend that attracts more than 30,000 people. The protest festival was to stop The Toronto and York Roads Commission’s plans to straighten and widen Kennedy Road through the village.

The plan, according to Stan Neal, was to “draw attention to the village for the benefit of both the locals and the legislators that they might see the charm and uniqueness of the place”.  It was a “resounding success” and Neal went on to chair the first three festivals.

Cabrelli is currently in his fourth year as chair after an absence of several years. The festival is non-profit and completely run by volunteers.

“I have a great time doing this,” he said. “The best fun for our committee is the six/seven months of planning and when we get (good) weather on the festival weekend and see the people in the community out having a great time with their families that’s our reward.”

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Photo: Unionville Festival returns with family-friendly activities on June 6. Photo courtesy of Rob Hyland

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