Big Top partly down but not out in Bun­nell’s Peo­ple col­umn

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - ERIC BUN­NELL PEO­PLE er­icbun­nells­peo­

Takes more than a lit­tle breeze to knock the wind out of the Rail­way City Big Top.

Mon­day’s stormy weather blew down part of the cir­cus tent on Welling­ton Street, and forced re­moval of Sun­day’s Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tions hosted by EML MP Karen Vec­chio and MPP Jeff Yurek, to nearby Timken Cen­tre.

“The tent was dam­aged in the storm and will have to have a few of the side pan­els re­placed,” con­firms Sean Dyke, GM of venue-spon­sor­ing St. Thomas Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp.

“We have peo­ple work­ing to do that now and it should ac­tu­ally be ready by the week­end, but I wasn’t con­fi­dent enough in the re­pair time­line to guar­an­tee it, so I rec­om­mended to Karen that she move her event.”

Sean says he ex­pects Thurs­day’s Bon Jovi trib­ute con­cert to go ahead as planned.

He’s beam­ing #stthomasproud about the unique show­place.

“The cir­cus was amaz­ing and all the events in the tent so far have been out­stand­ing.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to another month-and-a-half of events at this unique and ex­cit­ing venue.”

Just an­nounced, the North­ern Pikes are to tune up Oct. 20 un­der the big top, on the band’s 30th an­niver­sary tour.

(And if ’n you can’t wait, Roy LeBlanc em­cees “two full days of hip swiv­el­ling, lip curl­ing fun” with the first ever King of the Rail­way City Com­pe­ti­tion and 15 Elvis acts — count ’em, 15! — start­ing Fri­day, Oct. 13. Lucky StT!)

The In­ter­na­tional Plow­ing Match is 100 this year – and the an­nual El­gin county match is as ven­er­a­ble.

But no grass grow­ing un­der the 30-plus com­peti­tors ex­pected for the 2017 county match Satur­day at 40155 Tal­bot Line, which is An­drelea Farms just north­east of Tal­botville on the High­way 3 by­pass.

Nope – not a blade. They’re plow­ing Satur­day with trac­tors and horses (reg­is­tra­tion 9 a.m., first plow­ing class 10 a.m. elected of­fi­cials and others 1 p.m., Queen of the Fur­row 2 p.m.). And old-timers – an­tique plows, that is – are back for another go Sun­day. Ad­mis­sion by do­na­tion.

Port Stan­ley Op­ti­mists start serv­ing break­fast at 8:30 a.m. Satur­day morn­ing, and din­ner and awards Satur­day evening at St. James Pres­by­te­rian Church wrap the day.

Though no-till crop­ping is the prac­tice these days on many farms, plow­ing is mak­ing a come­back, says Al­lis­ter Cameron, a com­pe­ti­tion stew­ard (and three-time El­gin cham­pion).

And it’s a true test of skill. Al­lis­ter ex­plains judg­ing is based on tech­nique – even fur­rows, straight­ness, cov­er­ing trash – verses plow­ing as much as you can in a set time.

Brian Lunn is pres­i­dent of the El­gin branch of the On­tario Plow­men’s As­soc. Vol­un­teers wel­come.

The 2017 Queen of the Fur­row is to be crowned at the din­ner, suc­ceed­ing 2016 Queen Jody Al­dred, who will rep­re­sent El­gin at this year’s IPM, Sept.1923 in Wal­ton. 2015 El­gin Queen Anita Rastap­ke­vi­cius is the reign­ing IPM Queen.

There you have it!

Though the cur­tain has come down on their sum­mer sea­son, they’re still play­ing around at Port Stan­ley Fes­ti­val Theatre, where PSFT’s 6th an­nual Play­wrights’ Fes­ti­val is next week­end with read­ings of two new plays, 8 p.m. Sept. 15-16.

The fes­ti­val is part of the theatre’s mandate to de­velop new Cana­dian theatre. PSFT pre­miered Five Alarm this sum­mer af­ter fes­ti­valling the Kris­ten da Silva com­edy last year; pre­vi­ous new plays have in­cluded The Birds and the Bees, Birds of a Feather, Bingo Ladies and Not In My Back­yard, all work­shopped in Port and then pro­duced on the PSFT stage.

Artis­tic direc­tor Si­mon Joynes says he reads about 30 sub­mis­sions a year. Each of the two scripts he chooses for the Play­wrights’ Fes­ti­val re­ceives a two-day work­shop – this year with Si­mon and ac­tors Jeff Cul­bert, Matthew Gor­man, Karen Parker, Stephen Sparks – pre a public read­ing and dis­cus­sion.

On of­fer the Fri­day night, It’s Your Fu­neral, a first-time play by ac­tor Jamie Wil­liams (on stage in 2015 in Port, in Real Es­tate).

Si­mon: “The piece is a pe­riod farce (1940s) set in a fu­neral par­lour just pur­chased by Ge­orge Cranston (an ex gam­bling ad­dict) and his wife, He­len, along with some mys­te­ri­ous ‘silent part­ners’, on the morn­ing of their first big fu­neral.”

Well, turns out the silent part­ners are the mob. And that’s just for starters.

Si­mon: “Com­pli­ca­tions en­sue ….”

On the Satur­day, Buy­ing the Farm, a ro­man­tic com­edy by Stephen Sparks and part­ner Shel­ley Hoff­man. Also a first­time script for Stephen (on stage in 2010 in Wrong for Each Other). But Shel­ley’s a vet­eran scripter (and a Gemini win­ner, to boot).


“A young front man for a real es­tate developer, Brad, shows up at­tempt­ing to buy an an­ces­tral farm from its cur­rent elderly owner, Mag­nus. Mag­nus’s great niece, Esme, is strongly op­posed to the idea greatly adding to the con­flict in­her­ent in the sit­u­a­tion as well as to the ro­man­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

Ad­mis­sion by do­na­tion. Re­serve a seat by call­ing the theatre or click­ing through port­stan­leythe­

Yep. We’re wak­ing up to Septem­ber for sure. The fur­nace has come on. The dew is thick in the morn­ing un­til it steams off the rooftops.

Kids are walk­ing to their school bus stops.

There’s a minute to grab one more cof­fee. But when it’s time to head to the word fac­tory, you can barely see driv­ing east on Welling­ton Street, with the morn­ing sun bright in your eyes.

Gotta be care­ful, there.

Cou­ple more Septem­ber things.

Pumpkins at the mar­ket … and coun­try pump­kin ice cream at Shaw’s.

And sum­mer is dis­ap­pear­ing off the shelves at the Tire. I be­lieve the hol­i­day fes­tive sea­son soon may be in store ….


Strong winds Mon­day blew down part of the Rail­way City Big Top. But re­pairs are un­der way and the venue is ex­pected to re­open shortly.

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