After three years away, it is once again going to be an excellent summer for festivals in Vankleek Hill.

Excellent Events will be hosting all of its sorely missed events in the village in 2023. The immensely popular Festival of Flavours will be back next September, while the May Show and the one-weekend Christmas Craft Fair will both be held as normal, after being canceled in 2020, 2021 and 2022

“We want to see people get back to celebrating the good things in life,” said Samme Putzel, of Excellent Events.

Kicking off this year’s parties will be the Wee Irish Fest, which went ahead on March 15 of 2020, just as at events throughout the country were beginning to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wee Irish Fest to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day will be held on Sunday, March 19, 2023. However, the parade which ordinarily runs down Main Street, will not be held. Instead, the Wee Irish Fest will be held at the Creating Centre at the corner of Main Street and County Road 34 in Vankleek Hill – outdoors in the Phil Arber Memorial Garden if weather permits.

The Wee Irish Festival will feature live music by 50 PROOF and will be a party for everyone in Champlain.

“It will be a party that people can come to and I’m hoping that people will walk up and down the street with their costumes,” Putzel said. “Hopefully people who come to the parade will come to the party and bring their pets.”

The May Show, which has been taking place in Vankleek Hill for more than 30 years, will be held this year on Sunday, May 21. The event will feature live music all day and an assortment of performers on Main Street.

The Vankleek Hill Horse and Buggy Expo will take place in 2023 at the Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds. Photo: Louise Sproule

Sunday, July 9, will see a new event, the Horse and Buggy Expo, which replaces the annual Horse and Buggy Parade through the streets of Vankleek Hill. The expo will be held at the Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds, where the parade can be held in front of the grandstands in a controlled environment.

The Festival of Flavours, which prior to the pandemic attracted thousands of people to Main Street, will return for the first time since 2019 on Sunday, September 10. Excellent Events plans to bring the food festival back in its previous format, with vendors set up the length of the street.

Finally, the Christmas Craft Fair will be back at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre for three days from November 24 to 26. For the past two years the craft fair has been held at the Creating Centre over several weeks prior to Christmas.

Excellent Events has approached the Township of Champlain about sponsoring all its festivals in 2023 and the size of each will depend on whether the township chooses to participate. Putzel is optimistic about the township’s participation, noting Champlain took over running the Christmas Parade of Lights from Excellent Events in 2022 and put on a fantastic parade.

“I think (Champlain) has really proven that they want to put on these events and that they’re willing to help,” Putzel said.