Spring Boat, Cottage, and Outdoor Show This Weekend

By John Swartz

This weekend, under normal circumstances, would be the tangible start to summer with the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce’s Spring Boat, Cottage, and Outdoor Show.

The event is still happening, but it’s likely not going to be the gateway to a great summer it usually is because of the reconstruction of Centennial Drive. The chamber has had to move the event to Tudhope Park.

Aside from the vendors, food and music, it was an opportunity for people thinking about getting into boating, or upping their game to see the latest in watercraft. This year however there will be few boats to see (still at the Port of Orillia) and if you go to Tudhope, you’ll just have to use your imagine because despite the park jutting out into Lake Couchiching, the City is not allowing boats in the vicinity.

“We’re not supposed to have boats there period,” said Doug Bunker, who is the chamber’s event coordinator. We’re trying to get them (boats and people) to the waterfront, but the marinas are not interested doing the marina (Port) as it is because the access is so limited from land, so they have to put all their boats in from somewhere else.”

“I lost two marinas today because of construction down at the waterfront.”

The event also lost their ability to have food vendors.

“We had to kowtow to a Ribfester guy (who) complained about the food vendors,” Bunker said. “We’ve always had food vendors. We got them all lined up and then had to call them all back and say we can’t do it.”

There will still be vendors of useful things for your boat, cottage or whatever it is you do outside to see, try and buy. They’ll be set up alongside the ball diamond at Tudhope. 

There will be music, but even that has been a problem area for Bunker.

“The people I have lined for music right now are wondering about coming so it’s going to be kind of a static display of stuff. I’m not finished with the music because I’ve got Farrucas (the Latin duo which has played at many waterfront events of the years) and Dav (also played at some waterfront events).”

The landscape for the ability to manage this event has been changing frequently for Bunker. While he is occupied with now, he has an eye on next year too.

“We’re trying to draw the attention. We’ve totally refitted our park. We’re bug, beautiful and ready to go again, and now we’re going to open the gates,” Bunker said of the objective next year. He’s not had an issue convincing participation in the past, and thinks things will return to normal next year

“If you are into boating as a lifestyle and the cottage stuff, all you do is show them pictures of the location and they all go, “What? Do a show in a place like that?” It’s a gift to have the Port of Orillia as a platform.”

The Waterfront Festival, August 11, 12 and 13 is still planned to happen at the waterfront, maybe.

“We’re waiting to hear back from the engineers,” Bunker said.

The other big events the chamber holds are still going to happen at the Port.

“The Christmas in June, The Mardi Gras type of thing and going right to the Pirate party, these are all social things,” Bunker said.The Spring Boat, Cottage, and Outdoor Show hours are Friday – noon to 7 p.m., Saturday – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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