Events are returning to small communities and in some cases, there are changes to how and when activities are organized. Formerly headed up by Excellent Events, this year marks a change as Champlain Township officially takes on the organization of the Parade of Lights, happening the first Friday evening in December.

Champlain Township Communication & Economic Development Specialist Zoë Fortin-Larocque told council that the municipality is best-positioned to head up this event, noting at the same time that the municipality leads the organization of Canada Day celebrations in L’Orignal.

“When Samme (Putzel) first contacted me to indicate that she was not putting on the parade this year, we didn’t think twice about whether or not we should take over the parade. This is a highly-anticipated event for the community and a two-year absence, we believe it is important to bring it back,” said Zoe Fortin-Larocque, Communication and Economic Development Specialist; Fortin-Larocque also serves as Community Event Coordinator.

More details will emerge in October, Fortin promised; participants will find out how to register and will learn more then. In the meantime, Fortin says she will be encouraging local businesses to remain open and/or to find ways to participate in the parade.

Samme Putzel of Excellent Events said this was wonderful news as the parade is risky and has its own set of insurance requirements.

While Excellent Events is still going strong and is organizing the Christmas Craft Fair during six consecutive weekends in November and December, Putzel said the Parade of Lights was beyond the capacity of Excellent Events.

Likewise, Excellent Events is hosting ‘Breakfast with Santa’ on Sunday, December 18, with a volunteer crew lead by Evelyn Bernique. The tentative location is the Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds (pending confirmation).

Excellent Events is still reviewing plans for the 2023 May Show Festival, which has traditionally involved art shows and a vendor fair along the Main Street, with a Main Street stage and musical entertainment.

“We are thinking about the event and it may take a new direction,” Putzel said, adding that arts and culture will continue to be the focus, along with musicians, artisans and artists, of course. The event, which has taken place for more than 25 years, customarily happened on the Victoria Day long weekend. But for the past two years, the event has not taken place due to pandemic restrictions.

Putzel said the Festival of Flavours, which saw dozens of food vendors line Vankleek Hill’s Main Street, is also under consideration.

Given the lead time to send out contracts, she stressed the importance of planning ahead. Although discussions of location have taken place, she acknowledged that the event has its own special cachet when it takes place on Main Street.

“We are working on it and want to be sure of everything before we move forward,” Putzel said.

If you want to get in touch with Excellent Events, you can send an email to: [email protected]