By Keith Sharp
The city of Timmins Ontario is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Great Canadian Kayak Challenge Festival August 24-26th by returning to the historical roots of this event featuring Voyageur canoeists dressed in pioneer garb and even a 50th anniversary meeting of The Timmins Fur Council which will explain to festival patrons the necessity and value of fur trapping.
But what has also changed about this year’s festival is the musical entertainment which will not feature the ‘name artists of previous years’ but rather focus on tribute acts and rising talent. And there’s a reason for this according to event co-ordinator, Guy Lamarche.
“We’ve had some big guns in the past (The Stampeders, Honeymoon Suite, The Box, Platinum Blonde) but we have to remember that this is a free festival so we have chosen this year to tread gently with our budgets,” offered Lamarche. “I remember a few years ago when we booked Eagles’ tribute band, Hotel California and the crowd response was a real eye opener. So I’ll know in a few weeks from now how well our lineup has been received.
Talent for 2018 will comprise of guitar whiz Eugene Martinez, Brantford blues guitarist A,K McLeod, Hamilton Celtic band, The Mudmen and Winnipeg Black Sabbath tribute band, Ozbourne who will perform Friday with Martinez and The Mudmen returning Saturday to support Hamilton alternative artist Rosa Cora Perry and U2 Tribute band Desire.
The Great Canadian Kayak Challenge has been consistently rated as one of Ontario’s top festival events by FEO (Festival & Events Ontario) and Lamarche is excited about this year’s additions. Aside from over 150 Voyageur Canoeists in traditional pioneer garb, who will paddle their own marathon route before concluding their race on the Mattagami River in Timmins, the festival will also feature a wave-based stunt show featuring Water Skiing and Wake Board stunts, a Classic Car Show featuring from 50 to 75 vintage vehicles, the annual Strongman Competition, an Indigenous Village featuring native dancing, music and traditional cuisine, A Farmer’s Market, events for the kids plus the usual schedule of kayak races.
“And the great thing it’s all free,” enthused Lamarche. “Admission to all events is free, parking is free, the bus shuttle from downtown is free. Thanks to our corporate sponsors, it’s a totally free event.”