Sometimes those targeted Facebook promotions actually hit their mark, it seems. I can't remember why or when, but for some reason (an algorithm, obviously) Facebook thought I'd be interested in the David Suzuki Foundation's Butterflyway Parade & Pollinator Party on September 16. In fact, I was. I love bees. I love raising awareness about bees. I love looking at bees. I love eating the things bees make. (I also like other pollinators but bees are my fav.) And it sounded like a cute little event, and near to home which is a definite bonus.
Turns out that it was the same day as the first ever Toronto Beaches Festival (not to be confused with the Beaches Jazz Festival or Beaches Ribfest!). I had a few friends already going to that (maybe) so I thought I'd swing by and check that out as well. Make a beachy day of it.
It was beautiful weather for both and the turn out for the parade was actually higher than I expected which was nice to see. And the looks on people's faces as the parade made its noisy, musical way down the boardwalk were lovely. The small brass band led the way with jaunty tunes and 60s protest/spiritual songs which I found actually quite fitting. There's nothing like a group of people all dressed up as butterflies, lady beetles, birds, and bees, standing on the beach belting out "Down by the Riverside (Study War No More)".
The parade made its way from Woodbine Beach to Kew Gardens to continue the party with more live music, pollinator-themed crafts, ecology lessons, face-painting, and free ice-cream. I feel like the free ice-cream is a big deal and huge treat, especially since it was from Ed's Real Scoop--which, if you're a Beacher, you know the queue outside that place in summertime!
But alas, I couldn't follow the whole parade and had to turn back to check out the Beaches Fest with my limited time allowance.
Now, the first year of any festival--especially a local one like this--is bound to be a bit lacklustre and awkward as they figure out what works, what people want, and who their demo is. I can't say this was a roaring success from my short time there (in mid-afternoon so maybe it picked up before its very early curfew of 8 PM!). But, if you were in the area, it couldn't have hurt to stop by. There were some beer vendors, some cider, some fruity beach-y type drinks, some food, and some merch -- most vendors were local businesses from the area. By far it seemed the biggest draw was the fish n chips and the Caribbean food, followed by Carter's Landing because who doesn't love a quick slider?
It was a mix of young and old(er), some mums with tots, a few dogs and kids, but mostly the usual 20-and-30-somethings that attend similar beer sampling festivals in the city. In theory, it was a decent idea: a gorgeous late summer day, the beach, refreshing drinks and a snack or two whilst you lay about on the sand.
Except they didn't have enough chairs. (I'm always reminded of that Family Guy episode when talking about chair shortages.) If you want people to lounge around especially in blazing sunshine, they need places to do so. There was a tent or two set up for shade with blankets, and they were packed. A few vendors brought their own chairs, a few people brought their own beach towels. And I understand why there was limited seating if they expected crowds. But that said, an area away from all the foot traffic and vendors for people to chill out would have been a bonus. Unlike, let's say, the cider festival I just attended, this had a much more relaxed vibe of "Please, grab a drink and a bite, take your time and enjoy the beach!"
All in, I'd say it was a decent first showing for a local festival. (Certainly better than Nookfest from last weekend.) I heard a girl lamenting that she expected it to be a bust, and it was... but I'll respectfully disagree. Whilst it wasn't the greatest local festival I've been to, it certainly has potential with a few tweaks for next year. A later curfew would be nice. Just saying!
Looking forward to next year, guys!
Learn more about the David Suzuki Foundation and the Butterflyway Project.