3-day kayak festival set to kick off

Timmins Daily Press

“Without them, I don’t know if this would be possible because if you do the math, a festival of this size is just under a half a million bucks.”

Guy Lamarche, Timmins manager of tourism and events, was joined by Elizabeth McLeod, left, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Timmins-Porcupine District, and Lacey Rigg, the city’s coordinator of meetings, conferences and sports tourism at the Mattagami River boat launch Wednesday for a press conference to discuss the Great Canadian Kayak Challenge and Festival which kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. RON GRECH/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD

The cost of hosting a three-day event like the kayak festival costs about half a million dollars, says Guy Lamarche, Timmins manager of tourism and events.

However, other than the wages paid to the city’s tourism and events staff, the Great Canadian Kayak Challenge and Festival doesn’t cost the municipality anything, because the expenses are covered by grants and corporate sponsorships.

“We have well over 100 corporate sponsors this year, big and small that have made this happen,” said Lamarche. “Without them, I don’t know if this would be possible because if you do the math, a festival of this size is just under a half a million bucks.”

The free festival kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. the Mountjoy Historical Conservation Area (Participark) and runs until Sunday.

Admission is free and throughout the weekend there will be children’s activities, the live performing arts, a fishing pavilion, Harley Davidson display and demo rides, and matinee music performance, Friday and Saturday evening live concert, a fireworks display on Saturday night, three 40-minute water ski and fly-board stunt shows on Sunday and the rubber duck race on Sunday afternoon, which is an annual fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of Timmins-Porcupine District.

“All of this is possible, thanks to the generous support of our corporate sponsors,” said Lamarche.

He said they raised about $108,000 in corporate cash donations, and added another $36,000 through government grants and funding agencies.

“The corporate community also contributed $274,000 in-kind. In-kind could be a load of sand that we need. It could be break on your Porta Potti requirements. It could be a price break on your security. So we’ve tracked all this and that comes in at just under 300 grand.

“And last but not least, corporate entities have also contributed $12,000 to support some prize giveaways as an incentive to ensure win, lose or draw, that paddlers come out to the award ceremony. If you’re present at the award ceremony, and your name comes up and you’re there, you might win trip to wherever Porter flies, you might win a kayak, you might win a hat. It depends on what we’re drawing at the time but there’s $12,000 worth of prize incentives that are supported by the corporate entities.”

The Great Canadian Kayak Challenge and Festival kicks off Friday at 4 p.m.

And then on Saturday, Lamarche said, “The event gets underway at 6 a.m. with an Indigenous Sunrise Ceremony, followed by the lighting of a Sacred Fire at 6:30 a.m. and Blessing of the Water at 8 a.m.

“Marketplace and community exhibits will feature more than 50 exhibitors confirmed, many housed under the 5,400-square-foot tent and many from outside markets.

“Saturday night at 9:30 p.m., there will be a fireworks display over the Mattagami River. These will be launched from the east side of Participark and should provide a spectacular display.”

As in previous years, Riverside Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic between Norman Street and Theriault Boulevard from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. This will allow people to watch the fireworks show from the Mattagami River bridge, if they so choose.

All eastbound traffic should detour at Shirley Street, during the road closure, while westbound traffic should detour at Highway 655 or Theriault Boulevard, said Lamarche.

“During the fireworks road closure, vehicles parks in lots with egress to Riverside will not be allowed to exit. To do so is a breach of road closure order and violators will be charged.”

Lamarche said an event that offers so many and such a diverse range of activities “will no doubt attract thousands of people.”

He said visitors need to be mindful that parking will be limited.

Lamarche said there will be parking available at the two lots at the bottom of Commercial Avenue; the northwest lot of the Participark, parking at Mountjoy Arena and Archie Dillon Sportsplex, and on-street parking available in and around the venue where allowed

“Public parking will not be allowed in the southeast and southwest lots of Participark. The southwest lot is being used by the Mountjoy Farmers’ Market and The Rock Harley Davidson.

“The southeast lot will be restricted to exhibitors and those vehicles with proper ‘accessibility stickers.’ Access to this area is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Again this year, we have a created a parking space capable of accommodating 100-plus vehicles in the northwest grassy section of Participark. This lot will also be used for volunteers and exhibitors.

“All registered paddlers are asked to park in the reserved parking area located southwest of the Mattagami Bridge near the registration tent.

“Where possible, we ask that people consider using public transportation including the festival shuttle service courtesy of First Student Canada Charters. Three routes will be covered: Canadian Tire, Timmins Square and Cedar Meadows to the festival on the half-hour; Porcupine Mall, Royal Canadian Legion and McIntyre Arena to the festival on the hour. And Delvillano Park to Confed (Confederation Arena) to Archie Dillon to the festival on the half hour.

“This year the shuttle drop-off/pick-up area has been relocated to the Craig Street Trail.”

Lamarche highlighted several advisories relating to the event, during a press conference Wednesday.

These included:

• Public access to the Mattagami and Mountjoy Rivers from the public boat launch will be restricted.

Both the boat launch and the public beach area will be closed to the general public Friday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.;

• The Mattagami River from the bridge to the EACOM sawmill will be closed to boaters from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the Saturday evening fireworks. “The restrictions will ensure the safety of participants and volunteers of the Great Canadian Kayak Challenge and Festival,” he said;

• The South Porcupine OPP Marine Unit will be patrolling the water all through the weekend to ensure everyone’s safety;

• Drones are prohibited from flying over the event venue.

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