Christmas in Kagawong, pandemic edition, a huge success

KAGAWONG – Opting for an outside venue to hold this year’s Christmas in Kagawong event due to the COVID-19 coronavirus was a blessing in disguise. This past Saturday, on a beautiful sunny day, the huge throng of people who attended this year’s event had smiles on their faces as they visited the 22 vendors on hand outside of the Old Church on the Hill in Kagawong.

“The response blew us away,” stated Billings Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack, chair of the Billings Economic Development Committee (EDC) which hosted the event. “We had 641 people walk through the grounds.”
“It was awesome—a beautiful day and the sun was out,” said Councillor Alkenbrack. “At one stage Diane (Larocque) said that there were cars lined up all the way to Carter Crescent.”

“I have to think one of the reasons we had such good attendance is that people are tired of being locked down (due to the pandemic) and just wanted to be able to attend something outside,” said Councillor Alkenbrack. “It just proves you can have successful events and still be safe. Local residents had indicated they wanted events and meetings to again take place in person and the vendors said that it was an extremely successful day for them.”
The 22 vendors provided all kinds of things to pick up for Christmas gift shopping, from baking, crafts, knitting, teas, jewelry, clothes, Uncle B’s sauces, art. Spindles Rekindled, leather wallets, bedding, hobby items and much, much more. 

Dianne Larocque operated a booth where food and refreshments were provided, along with signs, with the latter being a fundraiser for Manitoulin Pet Rescue. Ms. Larocque had an extra special duty during the day—handing out Santa stocking treat bags (provided by Bridal Veil Variety) to all the children. Ms. Larocque explained to the children that because of COVID-19, “Santa Claus couldn’t be here this year. However, he asked me if I could give out these treat bags to all the children.” The huge smiles on all the children who received these Santa treat bags would make even the Grinch smile.

Vendors included a few from off-Island. Joanne Proulx of Sudbury was selling her jewelry items at the event. “I’m a friend of one of the other vendors and I had wanted to take part in this type of Christmas fair market activity. Normally I am here for the Christmas in Kagawong event in November and I wanted to come this year to take part in the outdoor event. It’s been great today.”
“The patrons have been awesome today and everyone has been complying to the guidelines provided by Public Healthy Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) to maintain everyone’s safety and health,” said Councillor Alkenbrack.

Jim Chambers, a member of the Billings Township Volunteer Fire Department was on hand with a fun game for everyone to take part in and gave away prizes for those that entered. The display also marked Fire Prevention Week. “This years Fire Prevention Week theme is kitchen safety. It is imperative that people don’t leave a stove unattended for any length of time. It is also important to have a fire extinguisher on hand just outside the kitchen and you should never throw water on a grease fire—put a lid on the pot on the stove.” 

Councillor Alkenbrack explained the Billings EDC committee, “is looking to make the Old School Church on the Hill our fundraising project for the next year. This church is the oldest building in the community and has gone through good and tough times. It needs a bit of work,” she said noting the fundraising campaign is “geared toward restoring, enhancing and preserving the building.”

In the past the EDC has hosted the Christmas in Kagawong events, White Pine Walk, lights on the boardwalk, hydro on the boardwalk maze, the stone maze, River Bend stage and the development of the giant game board.