4. The William Scott Festival
New Hamburg, Township of Wilmot, June 23rd, 10am – 6pm
One festival that really stands out is the brand new William Scott Festival in New Hamburg. It’s named after William Scott, who came to Canada from Scotland as a young lad in the mid-nineteenth century and went on to found New Hamburg. Today, New Hamburg is the largest community in the Township of Wilmot.
Billed as New Hamburg’s first ever Scottish festival, the William Scott Festival will run on June 23rd from 10:00am – 6:00pm and will feature a beer garden, live music, a 1 mile run, a competition for the best burger in New Hamburg (will each year feature a new New Hamburg burger? You’ll just have to wait and see), and more.
Finally, and positively thrillingly, the William Scott Festival has a soap box derby! Racers can design and build their own soap box derby car, or take a premade one out for a spin. It’s bound to be absolutely brilliant. Please, please check out this fabulous new festival (view their website here) – hopefully it’s the first of many New Hamburg Soap Box Derbies to come.
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3. Baden Corn Festival
Baden, Township of Wilmot, August 11th
It may sound corny, but the Baden Corn Festival is really poppin’. Just direct your attention toward Cornelius T. Cobb, the festival mascot. The son of Colonel Cobb and ‘Silky’ (presumably her husking name), Corny Cobb is a dapper young corn cob indeed, and he’s skilled in both farming and food preparation. He’s also a savvy social media operator – check out his Twitter here (it’s overflowing with kernels of wisdom).
The Baden Corn Festival takes place in Baden, a community of around 4500 in the Township of Wilmot, west of Kitchener-Waterloo. Not only is the festival a lot of fun, but it’s also an opportunity for Baden to show off its agricultural history, its high-quality local produce and restaurants, and the fast-growing community itself.
This will be the 6th annual Baden Corn Festival, making it one of the youngest festivals in our series on summer festivals in the Waterloo Region and Guelph/Wellington County. But although it’s still fairly new, it’s already established itself as a fun, family-friendly time with a distinct personality. There are fun and games, vendors, food, and unique collections like antique tractors and classic cars on display.
The Baden Corn Festival is organized by the Baden Community Association (money raised goes back to this association, and thus back to the community). The festival’s quite enjoyable, and it’s a great way to get to know Baden better – there are even horse and wagon rides to Castle Kilbride, one of Baden’s most popular tourist attractions (the growing Prime Ministers Path is nearby, too). Check out their website here!
2. Cambridge Scottish Festival
Cambridge (Galt), Churchill Park, July 20th and 21st
Most of the cities, Townships, and communities we know today in the Waterloo Region were settled by German-speaking Mennonites from Pennsylvania in the nineteenth-century. Cambridge is the one city that has a distinctive Scottish element to its history – primarily concentrated around the part of Cambridge that was once (and to a degree still is) called Galt.
So it seems fitting that Cambridge has hosted the official Waterloo Region celebration of Scottish culture (and Scottish contributions to Canadian history) for the past several decades. This Festival started in 1975; up until 2016, it was called the Cambridge Highland Games, in reference to the historical Highland Games in Scotland that involved feats of strength and skill (such as the caber toss, in which a massive log is tossed through the air).
There is still an element of the Highland Games to the Cambridge Scottish Festival, with various competitions and even a high-stakes tug of war (there’s an amateur tug of war, too), but it’s just one facet of the Festival. Beer flows in the Beer Garden, there is music and dancing aplenty (including competitions in piping, drumming, and Highland dancing), numerous vendors, kids’ activities, live animals (including the distinctive Highland cattle and sheepdogs), antique cars, and so much more.
You can get a glimpse of the 2013 Cambridge Highland Games here, and find out more details on their website.
Cambridge has quite a lot going on this summer, with free concerts on Sundays (in parks all around the city), free outdoor movies on Thursday nights in August (at Civic Square), the Rotary Ribfest, and much more.
As for some of the Townships’ festivals, North Dumfries community Ayr has its annual Family Fun Fest on June 16th; Wilmot’s community of St. Agatha has the Cycling Open House hosted by Angie’s Kitchen (also in Wilmot are the aforementioned Corn and William Scott Festivals); Woolwich community Breslau has the French language KW Franco-Fête on June 23rd. Finally, there’s the Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival in Elmira, which, although this year’s is over, is worth looking forward to for any and all merry men and women.
1. Mill Race Folk Festival
Cambridge (Galt), Mill Race Park, August 3rd-5th
We covered the Mill Race Folk Society extensively in a recent article, and it even popped up in our Top 5 Parks in Cambridge list. The reason is that it’s really something special; something every Cambridge resident should look into. The Mill Race Festival of Folk and Traditional Music (as its full name goes) takes place primarily in the distinctive Mill Race Park, right in the heart of historic Downtown Galt, and it’s truly a highlight of every summer festival season.
The three-day festival has been bringing music, cultural celebrations, and festivities to Cambridge every year since 1993. It’s been completely free since day one, and the festival organizers have always made an effort to ensure it’s a fully accessible event (it’s quite close to public transit connections, and you can find directions and related info here).
Don’t let the ‘Folk’ label fool you; the music and art on display at the Mill Race Folk Festival is actually incredibly diverse. Indeed, the festival was founded on a desire to highlight and celebrate the wide range of musical and cultural traditions in cultures around the world, with unique styles and instruments side by side with more familiar performances. Just take a look at this year’s lineup to get an idea.
Music is at the heart of the Mill Race Festival of Folk and Traditional Music, but there’s plenty more to see and do, too. Friday will feature live music in five separate venues, and on Saturday and Sunday, the Children’s Stage will be providing delightful entertainment to the younger crowd. The festival features art, fine food, a range of vendors, and so much more.