Festival of Friends
Ancaster Fairgrounds 630 Trinity Road

Bonjour mes amis!

So we figured, since we’re a group of friends touring around the city and making friends along the way, what better way to celebrate friendship than attending the annual Festival of Friends! Normally held in Gage Park, this was the first time the fest was held at the Ancaster Fairgrounds. I’d never been to the Festival of Friends before, had only heard stories, so I was looking forward to seeing what it was all about.

The evening got off to an interesting start. With Carly at the wheel and Honourary Tour Member Fiona mapping our route on her smart phone, we took a ride through the countryside, excitedly catching up on the past week’s events and taking in the beautiful sunset. With the windows rolled down and music blasting, it definitely felt like a mini road trip. We were so caught up in our countryside road trip that we missed the turn into the fairgrounds and unbeknownst to us, continued to drive along further away from our intended destination. When we hit a fork in the road, we knew something was up. Unsure of where to go, we went straight and, as we entered downtown Paris, began to realize that we weren’t in Dundas anymore!

After giggling over the fact that we’d ended up in Paris of all places and consulting our smartphones and GPS, we found our way back. Hilarity ensued along the way, including naming my blue GPS arrow Jacques (it worked well with the French theme), inventing the work FACK and trying our hand at speaking French. As with any tour, there are always a few bumps in the road and detours happen but hey, at least now we can say we’ve been to Paris (silent s) before. Oui oui, c’est fantastique!

Ancaster Fairgrounds

Relieved to have found our way back, we waited in the queue of cars and parked just in time to hear The Sheepdogs in the distance! A Saskatoon-based band, The Sheepdogs recently won a contest and were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. After an impromptu jog/run/sprint (we joked that we could lead power walks around the city), the four of us reached the fairgrounds and made our way through the crowds, taking in our surroundings. With all the bright lights, the smell of food wafting in the air, the array of booths (we saw one for cowboy hats) and of course, the rides, it wasn’t hard to get into festival mode.

Kristin and I were excited to learn prior to the Fest that the Cupcake Diner would be setting up shop all weekend! We’ve wanted to check out Canada’s first ever mobile cupcake shop for a while now. We spotted the bright pink Cupcake Diner truck, not easy to miss, and decisions were made surprisingly swiftly as we all went for Red Velvet which was quite delicious, by the way. The Cupcake Diner owner, Natalie, was excited to see us and we had our photo taken by the truck! Yet another moment of recognition. As we munched on our cupcakes, the group of us moseyed over to the main stage to watch City and Colour’s headlining performance.

People lined up for treats from Cupcake Diner

City and Colour is a side project fronted by Dallas Green, originally from Alexisonfire. Fiona and I quite enjoy his music and we were excited to learn he’d be performing in Hamilton, for FREE! The band played hits from their latest album Little Hell and came back for not one, but two encores. For those of you who haven’t heard it, take a listen. Some notable tracks include We Found Each Other In The Dark, Fragile Bird, O’ Sister and Northern Wind. What a crowd, a great mix of young and old and it was great to see some guys who weren’t shy with singing along to some pretty acoustic music. At one point, before one of his songs, Dallas encouraged everyone holding up their cameras/iPhones/Blackberries to take a break from trying to snap pics and put them down for that song. I think nowadays, it’s so easy to get caught up in taking a picture of your favourite band in concert, trying to capture the moment rather than live that moment, experience that moment. Nothing beats that feeling. Dallas Green is one of those rare performers who is incredible live. He has such a rich voice and strong vocals that when you listen to him live, his tone is just spot on.

The Fest of Friends was a fab way to spend the evening with friends, catch up with friends and also make friends along the way! We’ll have to see how the Fest fairs in its new location, but the four of us definitely had a fun time.

xoxo Avishka

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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