(People socializing during the Forks & Barrels Tour at Windsor’s Riverfront Festival Plaza on Saturday, August 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
On its inaugural way across Ontario, the Forks & Barrels festival tour stopped off in Windsor on the weekend and will be back. Organizer Mike Vaughan told Eyes on Windsor he is quite taken by Windsor’s waterfront location, quick to call being so close to the water one of the best locations in the province.
So impressed with the reception the city has offered his new festival, he is already planning for next year including cutting the event down to two days with less morning and early afternoon hours and more food and more entertainment to create an even more memorable experience.
Although, that might be hard to do. Vaughan has put together an eclectic mix of music, drinks and food that will be hard to match including bringing in a wide variety of food options including Ed’s World Famous Bloomin’ Onion from London.
Ed Butler runs the business with the Onion selection one of the newest in a company offering poutine, funnel cake and fries. His organization now spends the summer at festivals across the province. In addition to Windsor, his people are spending the weekend in Sudbury at that city’s Poutine Festival.
The Tour also opens up new customers for some of Windsor’s local restaurants. A good example is Justin and Lam Harb, operators of Wyandotte Street East’s House of Pad Thai. No surprise that both were busy serving up their stands most popular item, Pad Thai.
Katie Alvarez, of the Grand Cantina, a new fixture on Drouillard Road in historic Ford City, talks of how well the operation in doing in an up and coming neighbourhood of the city. It offers its customers tacos and 63 different types of tequila along with 17 varieties of Mezcal.
Over at the Sons of Kent, a new Chatham-Kent craft brewing company, situated in the old town of Chatham. Pouring BerryWhite, a raspberry white, kept the staff in its tent busy.
Windsor too has a new brewery in one of the oldest areas of the city, Sandwich Town. There the Sandwich Brewing Company brews up such delights as Prairie Sunshine, a blood orange wheat beer named for Canada’s vast prairies.
Even Walkerville Brewery was showing something new. In its case a craft cider put together by its new City Cidery unit. Server Kiernan talks of how well the market has accepted the new drink, “so far I haven’t met a person who doesn’t like it.”
And although many local companies were represented, so were other Ontario craft breweries and wineries, including Niagara-On-The-Lakes’ Lakeview Wine Company.
Vaughan and his workers divided Windsor’s Riverfront Festival Plaza into a Village with themed sections consisting of food, beer, wine, spirits, tropica, market, the square and the lawn. In the latter visitors could throw things around in a number of sports, including bean bag toss and axe throwing.
What is wine, craft beer and spirits without music? In the case of Forks & Barrels, Saturday evening was filled with sound including Windsor solo artist G.K. Mack. His versatility was a charm for the event. Next up was Toronto’s Dwayne Gretzky Band. The 9-piece group brought back the 1970s and 80s in great style perfectly replicating Windsor-born Shania Twain, Fleetwood Mac, Manfred Mann and so many more.
Sunday’s edition of the Festival (August 25) will see the same vendors but will include a bit of a twist on entertainment. Exodus, one of Canada’s premier tributes to Jamaica’s Bob Marley and fronted by Juno-award winning reggae artist Lazo, will take to the Plaza stage.
The excitement starts at 11 am and will last until 8pm at Windsor’s Riverfront Festival Plaza.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.