TORONTO — Many area residents turned out to browse through the wide assortment of jewelry, paintings, ornaments and other hand-made items for sale during the Toronto Art Festival.
In its 43rd year, the two-day festival was among many community events returning after a pandemic-imposed hiatus.
The festivities also included a chance to win prizes through the selection of numbered turtles from a pool in its annual Turtle Race and other drawings held to raise funds for next year’s event as well as a variety of food.
Visitors looking to cool off for a while could step into the basement of Riverview United Methodist Church for a bite to eat.
Barb Pritts said she and many fellow church members gathered for eight hours earlier in the week to bake pies, cut fruit and prepare other food while others dropped off many other baked goods.
“Our congregation really steps up,” she said.
Pritts and the Rev. Frank Rogers, the church’s new pastor; said it’s a major fundraiser for the church while also helping them to get its name out to potential new members.
They pointed to placemats on the tables that bear the hours for the church’s Sunday morning and Wednesday evening worship services.
“We also look at it as a community outreach. We’re right in the thick of it,” said Pritts.
Through the years, the church has lent its parking lot for the festival’s musical performances.
This year the Toronto High School Red Knights Marching Band opened the festival, with disc jockey Earl Tuttle spinning records for listening and karaoke later.
Members of the band were among many who took to the stage, sharing their vocal talents for a change.
The Toronto High School Band Parents again sold hot dogs, haluski and other food to raise funds for the group, this time for a trip to Disney World.
Harry Crouch, president of the Band Parents, said band members will attend musical workshops and will be recorded while performing with professional Disney musicians.
“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers,” Crouch said of the sale, who noted band members also man the booth to earn community service credit toward the cost for their participation in the trip.
Crouch said festival-goers have been very supportive, adding he missed the event and the assorted scents drifting from the various food trucks and other vendors.
Just across the street from the Riverview parking lot was the Toronto Lions Club, which brought back its annual chicken barbecue for the occasion.
Beth Ensell, an officer in the club, said the group had sold all 100 of its chicken dinners before 2 p.m. Saturday but was looking forward to selling another 100 on Sunday.
She noted proceeds go to various community projects for the club, which supports free vision screenings for local students and youth sports teams among other causes.
Ensell noted the Art Festival brings many current and former residents together again.
“A lot of people are in for this (holiday) weekend. They come in to visit but also know the festival is going on. I think it’s great,” she said.
Just down the street members of Crossroads North River Church were selling cabbage rolls and other food to raise money for the Helping Hands food pantry.
Festival-goers also stepped into the Main Street Museum to view assorted artifacts revealing various aspects of Toronto’s history.
On hand to field questions from visitors was Carolyn Walker, president of the Historical Society of Toronto and self-described chief storyteller and sometimes janitor for the building, which is in the former Colonial Florist Shop.
Among its possessions is a horse-drawn mail wagon used by postal carrier Mason Gray around 1895 soon after rural mail delivery had been started by the U.S. Postal Service as an experiment.
Walker said Okey B. Nestor, a local carpenter, restored the wagon, turning to Amish woodworkers for help with its wheels.
The museum also includes a display of items related to Toronto native Robert Urich, who starred in “Vegas,” “Spencer for Hire” and other television series until his acting career was cut short by a rare form of cancer.
Walker said she and other fellow members of Toronto High School’s Class of 1964 were interviewed for a biography of Urich included in the display.
Walker said she hopes next year the historical society can bring back its Ghost Walks, an interactive program in which local residents play distinguished former Torontonians.
She noted the museum will remain open from 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday through September before closing for the cooler seasons, but visits after that can be arranged by calling (740) 537-2157 or visiting the Historical Society of Toronto Facebook page.
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