Monday, August 6, 2012 9:29:21 EDT PM
Re-enactors, including the Provincial Marine, participate in the Capture of the Cuyahoga re-enactment Sunday, August 5 on the Detroit River. This was one of many re-enactments on the weekend.
AMHERSTBURG — The events to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 proved to be a huge success for Amherstburg.
After years of planning, the weekend was here; re-enactments, demonstrations, shows, music, and a little something for everyone in the family. It was truly an event to behold, no matter what your interests were.
From the town square to the Navy Yard Park, Fort Malden to Toddy Jones Park, thousands of eager people flooded the streets to get entertained, informed, and soak-in the atmosphere.
The weekend started off on Friday evening with a First Nations presentation in honor of Chief Tecumseh as well as the opening ceremonies and fireworks on the Detroit River. Saturday saw a packed day with re-enactments on the river, military tactic demonstrations at Fort Malden, various musical performances throughout town, and a concert by Chantal Kreviazuk at Fort Malden to close out the night. Sunday didn’t slow down as more re-enactments took place on the river in front of thousands of eager onlookers.
Two of the re-enactments included a skirmish on the river Saturday and the “Capture of the Cuyahoga” Sunday, both assisted by the Provincial Marine.
Provincial Marine president David May said it is fun being around fellow re-enactors and the Roots to Boots Festival was no exception.
“We have very little problem getting guys to come down and blast black powder,” said May. “These guys love doing this.”
Doug Robinson, who is known to many as Shaymus the Storyteller, was also very active as part of the re-enactments. He noted the first shots and first casualty of the War of 1812 was in Amherstburg.
“This wasn’t all about Niagara Falls,” said Robinson.
Robinson agreed there is great camaraderie amongst fellow re-enactors.
“It really does become like a second family,” he said.
For Essex MP Jeff Watson, Saturday’s skirmish was his first full-scale re-enactment. He said he tries to promote history through his role as an MP.
“This is a great way to bring history into focus two centuries later,” said Watson.
Fort Malden National Historic Site featured a weekend of military demonstrations and encampments as part of their Military Heritage Days.
In total, approximately 100 events were held throughout town, and that’s not including the exhibits put on throughout the parks.
Throughout the weekend, two guys stood out amongst the crowd, or should we say stood tall? The world famous Stilts Guys, Mark Lefebvre and Kyle Sipkens, made an appearance and the crowd loved them. They’re at many local events, but also travel throughout the continent, having fun with the locals.
“Well, the weather turned out to be perfect…Today is just gorgeous. I’ll take it,” Lefebvre said. “We love Amherstburg and Amherstburg loves us. We’ve done the Santa Claus Parade for a number of years, plus a few other events here in Amherstburg. We’re developing our (Sir Isaac) Brock and (Chief) Tecumseh 1812 costume characters and we got in touch with the right people and they booked us for the event. We’re having a great time!”
Sipkens said the reaction from the people was generally very good and he loved seeing a packed town.
“We got a mix of reactions; jaws dropping to smiles and excitement,” he said. “A few kids were not quite sure, but they generally warm up. As for the festival, there are people everywhere! The streets are packed when you look down towards Fort Malden, there are lots of people hanging out in the park listening to music, and there’s just so much to do. Everyone is having a blast!”
Taryn Stetski and Sara Charron from Windsor came to the events through a shuttle that was provided by Transit Windsor and Devonshire Mall in Windsor. Stetski said that was a huge positive for her.
“I’m always excited to be able to attend any free events in and around Windsor,” she said. “The fact that transportation was provided for free by the city was great because I would have easily missed out otherwise.”