by Bobby-Jo Keats
The Lance – News Intern
Residents are hopeful for the future of Ford City following the third annual Ford City Arts and Heritage Festival Sept. 20.
The 1000 block of Drouillard Rd. was closed Sept. 20, while over 300 people attended the event, organized by the Ford City Business Improvement Association with the support of the United Way, which will fund the Ford City Neighbourhood Renewal (FCNR).
Karlene Nielsen, event organizer, said the festival is meant to change the conversation about Drouillard Rd.
“We want people in the area to come out and have a good time or for people to come from across the city to experience Drouillard Rd. in a way they haven’t before,” said Nielsen.“There are a lot of activities and food vendors, and it’s an event designed to encourage people to think about investing in the neighbourhood, living here and even working here.”
Nielsen said the FCNR works with residents, business owners and neighbourhood community organizations to put together safety improvements, festival planning and lobby for infrastructure changes. They are currently discussing the upcoming viaduct improvements such as painting, lighting and making it more wheel-chair accessible.
Ford City residents sold popcorn and coffee while Neighbourhood Watch, Crime Stoppers, New Song Church and several small businesses and food vendors also made appearances at the festival.
Kevin LeClair, charity coordinator for Paradise and Breakaway Gaming Centres Windsor, operated a big games tent at the festival and gave away prizes.
“In 2013 we raised almost $3 million for 220 local charities,” said LeClair. “We are raising awareness that c-gaming supports our community, that bingo supports our community and, if it wasn’t for bingo and their support, a lot of these charities wouldn’t exist.”
Some attractions included a human foosball table, musical performances, a live mural painting, a historic photography art display and a stilt-walker.
Karen Seguin, a University of Windsor fine arts graduate, volunteered her time to help with face-painting.
“I’ve been associated with Drouillard Place [multi-service provider in the area] for a long time,” said Seguin. “I work at the teen centre and love working with the teens there. It’s nice for the kids to have something fun to do for free today while their parents are out and shopping around. It makes them happy and it’s a very good function for them to attend.”
Seguin said the event brings the community closer together and she believes event is a strong way to make that happen.
According to Nielsen, the festival this year had twice as many visitors as last year and she said she believes the success is due to everyone who volunteered their time to contribute to the future of Ford City.