Members of Zimbabwean collective Nhapitapi sing and dance during Haliburton Drumfest in Head Lake Park last summer. Drumfest has received funds from Celebrate Ontario for enhancements to the festival in 2018. /CHAD INGRAM Staff

Four Highlands festivals receive provincial funding

By Jenn Watt
Published March 13 2018

Two Haliburton events one in Wilberforce and one in Minden have received more than $30000 collectively to launch or enhance festivals coming up this summer.

The money is coming from an annual grant program called Celebrate Ontario which helps festivals and events with the hopes of improving tourism and spending.

The World Soap Hockey Championships a new event received the largest sum this year with $17625 being awarded.

Event organizer John Teljeur said the money will be going to pay for entertainment for the Haliburton-based event to take place at Head Lake Park July 6 to 8.

Alongside the soap hockey which is a game where players slide around soaped up tarps in their bare feet while playing hockey with sticks and a ball the event will also include the Haliboo Music Festival he said.

Teljeur said the schedule hasn’t been finalized but he would like to see it start in the afternoon on Friday with music into the evening and more music again the next day.

The players in soap hockey would get tickets to see the bands as part of their registration. For others who want to attend only the music festival there will be tickets for sale.

Now that the money has come in he said they will be able to secure headliners which will help ticket sales and registration.

Also in the park this summer Haliburton Drumfest was the recipient of a $3625 grant to enhance the event going into its third season.

Organizer Laurie Jones said there were three elements to the improvements they wanted to introduce.

“This year we want to designate a community stage for non-professional musicians to perform at” she said. “The other was to increase the number of learn to drum opportunities for people.”

This will include more drum education and workshops for women men and a try-it area for kids.

The third part is to increase attendance from 500 to 1000 with additional marketing and promotion.

“We really want to become the cottage country drum festival” Jones said.

The drumming procession and performances that proved popular over the years will continue with some tweaks. Jones said they’re hoping to offer opportunities for people who make drums or other percussion instruments to show what they do and there will be spots for vendors to set up.

Drumfest is Sept. 1.

Although they received money for enhancements there will still be a need for sponsorships Jones said.

“If it’s the reason people stay one more day or extend their visit [to Haliburton] that’s pretty great” she said.

The Wilberforce Agricultural Society also received a grant this year with $4392 going to its annual agricultural fair planned for Aug. 10 and 11.

The money will be going to “purchase 60 new tables for use at the fair arena curling club and other community events” said the society’s treasurer Joanne Vanier in a press release.

“Replacing the aging plywood tables has been a goal for some time and by partnering with other community groups we can purchase these assets that will benefit a large number of events” she said.

The agricultural society partnered with the Municipality of Highlands East and the Old Rec. Fundraising Committee.

“We will use them for the homecraft displays and other exhibits at the August Wilberforce fair. The Old Rec Fundraising Committee brings us the popular Giant Penny Raffle each year in July. Other groups that will benefit from the purchase include the Wilberforce Curling club which will use the tables for events such as the ATV ride and event in August.” Vanier said the tables will “improve the look and sustainability of our events.”

The Minden Hills Bluegrass Festival received a grant for $6500.

“If there are no strings attached we’ll put it toward band costs” said Dennis Casey lead organizer on behalf of the Minden Rotary Club. The festival now in its eighth year invites eight bands to play at a cost of just over $20000. A previous Celebrate Ontario grant supported rebuilding the stage for accessibility.

The bluegrass festival takes place July 20 to 22 this summer at the Minden fairgrounds.

With files from Sue Tiffin