Bradford is gearing up for Carrot Fest, its popular, annual street festival and salute to its roots in the Holland Marsh.
Once again, Carrot Fest will be a two-day festival, taking place Friday, Aug. 16 and Saturday, Aug. 17.
And while Saturday’s event may be one of the biggest street festivals in Ontario, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to enjoy the hundreds of vendors, live entertainment, buskers, Aquadog Championships and WWE Wrestling, it is the Friday version of Carrot Fest that has the strongest local flavour.
“It was a council initiative targeted to local business,” said town spokesperson Bethany Kuboniwa regarding Friday’s events, which are focused on showcasing local businesses and talent in the downtown core, from 4 p.m. until midnight.
There will be 65 vendors Friday, including local businesses and non-profit organizations like the Lions and Leo clubs, Helping Hand Food Bank and area churches. Most vendors will set up on Holland Street East, from 4 to 10 p.m., where the Back Alley Cruisers Car Club will hold their classic car show.
Holland Street East will also see live entertainment by Legends Neo Young, a Neil Young tribute artist, at 6 p.m. and a British Invasion’concert starting at 8 p.m., on the Courthouse stage.
On Simcoe Road, The Village Inn hosts a beer garden, while live entertainment on the Main Stage will feature Big Shiny ‘90s at 5 p.m., opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m., and the band Coming of Age at 8 p.m.
But Kuboniwa was most excited about Friday’s Kids Zone on Holland Street West. Sponsored by Vaughan Chrysler, the Kids Zone will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. and will be filled with inflatables, games and crafts.
And although the Kids Zone will also be open on Saturday, Friday’s events are especially family-friendly. There will be cupcake-decorating courtesy of Sweet B’s, performances by The Twisted Ones at 5 and 8:30 p.m., balloon-twisting from 6 to 8 p.m., and the Darren Bedford Juggling Show from 5:30 and 7 p.m.
“It’s ideal for families with young children,” said Kuboniwa. “It’s great for them to be able to come out when it’s a little quieter.”
Friday generally attracts between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors – a far cry from the more than 25,000 expected to attend the Saturday streetfest. “It’s busy, but not shoulder to shoulder,” Kuboniwa said.
Details of activities on both days can be found online, at www.carrotfest.ca.
Just a note: There will be road closures, of Holland and Barrie/Simcoe at the Four Corners, starting at 1 p.m. on Friday.