Civic Holiday weekend means it’s time for Haweater Weekend and the Wikwemikong Cultural Festival

MANITOULIN— The Manitoulin Island community gears up for this weekend, the Civic Holiday weekend, all year long—a sort of tipping point for summers on Manitoulin and a reminder that darker nights, cooler days and (shudder) school is not too far away, so let’s enjoy the fun in the sun while we can. As always, the Civic Holiday weekend also brings with it Manitoulin’s two largest, and oldest, festivals—Haweater Weekend in Little Current (marking 48 years) and the Wikwemikong Cultural Festival (at 55 years).

The fun begins in Wikwemikong on Saturday and carries right on through until Monday as Wikwemikong plays host to one of the biggest competition powwows on the circuit. The powwow was brought back those 55 years ago as a way for the community’s people to reconnect with its traditional roots and and has grown into that and so much more. It was also all of those years ago the first modern-era powwow in Ontario, and all of the First Nations cultural collaborations are rooted in this first 1961 Wikwemikong Powwow event.

Saturday, August 1 begins with the crowning of Little Miss Wikwemikong, Wikwemikong Lil Brave, Junior Miss Wikwemikong followed by the coveted Miss Wikwemikong title being bestowed at 10 am.

The powwow officially begins at noon on Saturday with the grand entry. (A note to visitors that photography is not permitted at grand entry but is more than welcome once the intertribals begin at 1 pm.) The rest of the afternoon  and evening continues with categories of all dances including smoke dances, a woodland special and categories for all ages.

At 9 pm, grab your sweetheart and hit the arena for a two-step, followed by the last powwow dance of the evening, the 18 and over women’s fancy spotlight special. (The full list of events can be found on Pages 8A-9A in this section of this week’s paper.)

The gates open again at 11:30 am on Sunday with dancing all day long and again the following holiday Monday.

Admission to the festival is $10 for adults ($20 for the weekend), $2 for children six and over and free for elders 65 plus and children under six.

There are many must-see demonstrations as part of the cultural festival too such as cultural workshops, a community art show, plenty of good eats, arts and crafts and of course the most amazing talent on the powwow trail.

For more information, search Facebook for ‘Wiikwemkoong Annual Cultural Festival’, visit www.wikwemikongheritage.org or call 1-877-859-2385.

In Little Current, Haweater Weekend also begins with a crowning, in this case for Miss Manitoulin, who will also represent her community all weekend and for the rest of the year too. The Miss Manitoulin pageant takes place at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre on Thursday, July 30 at 7 pm. Adults are $5; children 12 and under are $3.

On Friday, July 31 there is much to see and do including pony rides and inflatable fun at Low Island, a four-on-four hockey tournament, a barbecue at the Legion, a teen dance at the Little Current arena and an adult dance at the Legion too.

The official opening ceremonies get underway downtown at Cenotaph Park at 7 pm with live music leading up the pomp and circumstance at 6:30 pm. New this year is yet more live music, this time at the Lions Pavilion beer garden at Low Island at 8 pm featuring the tunes of duo Evan Farquhar and Damien Thibodeau.

‘Eat, sleep, Haweater, repeat.’ That’s this year’s theme and you can bet there is plenty of repetition all weekend long—of fun! New this Haweater is the closure of the downtown on both Saturday and Sunday to create a vendors’ mall with a festival atmosphere. You can bet the downtown merchants will have plenty of great deals too.

Saturday activities include a fun run, a reptile show at Little Current Public School, a quilt show at the arena, an antique car show (on Water Street, east of the Bank of Montreal), clowning around with Bella the Clown, Hot Wheels races, a cardboard boat race at Low Island, singing and dancing with Cindy Cook, a magician and a whitefish dinner. The night culminates with the Hawfest dance at the arena, an age of majority video dance party that serves to reunite Haweaters and to help them make new friends too. Tickets for the Hawfest are only $10 and are available at The Expositor office, Little Wally’s and Boarderline.

For the full events listings, see the double-page Haweater Weekend event schedule on Pages 16-17 of this newspaper.

On Sunday there are even more great family-friendly activities including more reptile shows, a horse show, community picnic, fun and games at Low Island, the parade of course, inflatable jousting and dunk tank, yet more magic and singing and what better way to top off another great Haweater Weekend? A good old fashioned street dance Sunday evening followed by the best fireworks this side of the bridge. Be sure to have your spare change or bills ready for those busy Lions as they will be out in full force Sunday night, seeking a collection to help finance next year’s ‘mammoth fireworks display.’

Happy and safe Haweater and Powwow, everyone!