Otterville's Canada Day 150 celebration fills three days

By Chris Abbott, Postmedia Network


One day was not enough for Township of Norwich's Canada Day celebration.

Not for Canada's 150th.

The Township of Norwich Canada Day - 150 Committee planned an entire weekend - three days of activities in Otterville - starting Friday night with opening ceremonies, team tricycle race and a sold out Chicken Wing Ding and Dance.

Saturday's events included a Farmers Market, bicycle parade, the OPP Golden Helmet Precision Motorcycle Team demonstration and Canada Day Parade. An afternoon festival in the community park featured canoe races, pine car races, and chicken barbecue hosted by the South Norwich Historical Society.

A late afternoon downpour around 4 p.m. cleared the pool, where free swims were held all weekend, and Super Air Bounce Rentals' bounce castle area, but did not rain out the sold-out chicken barbecue, which still had 350 portions barbecuing on an outdoor grill.

"Our chicken barbecue is always in August, but this year because of having Canada 150, we moved it to the 1st of July," said Mae Leonard, secretary of the South Norwich Historical Society. "We also had a pork barbecue in July, but this one will take over (this year) for the two. Our regular barbecues run between 150-200 people.

"I was happy to see a big year this year," said Leonard, noting they had to guess attendance based on advance tickets. "You can't make chicken for 400 people if you've only sold 300 tickets. We planned for 350, but yesterday we still had 50-60 tickets. We sold the rest today. We have a lot of last-minute people every year.

"We draw from all over - some are Otterville and the Township, but there are a lot of people returning just for the event. Maybe they lived here or family members lived here, and they're back to make connections, and in some cases, see if they recognize people that were here when they were younger."

Fifteen to 30 minutes before serving, there was still a light rain following a much heavier downpour.

"The chicken's almost ready out there, hopefully the rain hasn't put out the barbecue," she smiled.

A team of Society members and family volunteers kept the coals hot, however, and the delicious-smelling racks of chicken were ready as planned.

Funds from Saturday's chicken barbecue went to the historical society.

"We look after the mill, and its restoration," said Leonard. "And now we have the train station, which is the museum, and it's in need of a paint job. And we just put in a new platform there around it.

"Projects are ongoing, when you have old historic buildings, they always need repairs."

Two fastball games were planned Saturday night, followed by fireworks. Canada Day weekend continued Sunday with a 10 a.m. church service, entertainment and summer picnic at the park, followed by rubber duck race at the Old Mill and a book launch at Woodlawn.