Who would’ve thought a fuzzy yellow-orange fruit would spark an international festival that sees upwards of 200,000 people invade a small Ontario town every year? We sat down with Winona Peach Festival president, Linda Shuker, for some insider tips on the event that gets rockin’ and rollin’ on Friday August 26, 2016 at 5 p.m.
“What’s new for 2016?”
It’s our 49th anniversary this year and the way we approach it, if it isn’t broken, we don’t fix it. That being said, every year we have new vendors, arts and crafts and rides brought in by Robertson Amusements. We put a priority on local—local craftspeople and local entertainment. The Mudmen are a Celtic rock band and they’re back again this year by popular demand at 9 p.m. on Saturday on the main stage. Eh440 is an incredible Canadian a cappella group that tours all over North America and Europe—you can see them for free on Saturday right before The Mudmen. We close out the festival on Sunday with our big draw—this year it’s for a 2016 Jeep Wrangler. I’d love it if when I drew the name the winner was sitting in the audience.
“Do you have any tips for first-timers?”
Definitely take our special HSR Peach Festival shuttle service from the Eastgate Square transit terminal. Service is every 10 minutes or so from the Route 58 bus stop. On Friday the first bus leaves Eastgate at 4:24 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the first shuttle heads to the festival at 10 a.m. You can stay until the end of the festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and still catch a shuttle back to Eastgate. It’s so easy and just like the festival, it’s free. The full shuttle schedule is on our website. You can also buy pre-sale tickets to the midway and save 25% off regular midway ticket prices. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at Winona Gardens garden centre until Thursday August 25th and at Winona Park on Wednesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. until dusk. Another tip? Pre-sale tickets are cash-only.
“We hear there’s something special about the food. Can you tell us more?”
Food is provided by 19 different service clubs and each one has its specialty—no two sell the same thing, except water of course! Rotary sells pierogis. The Navy League’s specialty is steak-on-a-bun. The Winona Men’s Club is responsible for the famous peach sundae. If you want to provide food at the festival, you have to prove you’ve got something unique to offer the crowd. And you have to be a service organization. Every penny made from food sales goes back into the community—it’s close to $1 million every year.
“How do you keep the festival family-friendly?”
The festival is a family tradition for many, and we like to keep it that way. Number one, there’s no beer tent. And there’s always great activities for families. This year at the ED Smith Fun Factory we’ve got magic, dancers, puppets and musicians of all ages. Kids love the interactive show put on by Mystic Drumz, which performs from 3 to 4 on Saturday afternoon. Also, there’s an hour of free midway rides from 4 to 5 on Friday.
“What do you love most about being involved with the festival?”
I’ve been involved with the Winona Peach Festival for more than 30 years and been the president for 10. Now my kids are grown up and they’re involved with it too—it’s become a family tradition. To stand out there and see the crowd of people every year, that’s the highlight for me. I have a great bunch of people that I work with and they all do their jobs very well. It’s the behind-the-scenes people that run the festival, not me.
“What’s your favourite way to eat peaches?”
Right out of my hand.
We think Winona is worthy of serious consideration by anyone looking to buy a new home or townhome in a family-friendly community that’s got big city amenities and a small-town feel—which is why we’re breaking ground on a new townhouse development of our own early in 2017. We’ll be sending out Winona community news and updates our townhome development. Sign up for our Winona mailing list to stay in the loop.