Cover Story

Essex County Road Trip – A Whole Lot of Fun!

Take A Road Trip To A Whole Lot Of Fun In Essex County

Jump in the car this summer and take a cruise through the towns of Essex County for a fun filled adventure close to home. Our two explorers head off to Kingsville in style in a 2019 Chevy Corvette Z06 2LZ. Joel Robinson wears a button up shirt by Dockers with Megan Pickersgill in a blue blouse from Velvet by Graham & Spencer, both supplied by The Towne Shoppe, 56 Richmond Street, Amherstburg. Vehicle provided by Amherstburg Chevrolet Buick GMC (2016) Limited, 432 Sandwich Street South, Amherstburg.

Take A Road Trip To A Whole Lot Of Fun In Essex County

With summer finally here why not hit the road and visit Essex County’s unique communities? Bring along your significant other, kids or friends and take advantage of what local towns have to offer, from music and arts’ festivals to farmers’ markets and majestic tall ships — not to mention dozens of eclectic restaurants.

Since there’s quite literally something for every taste and age, Biz X magazine has compiled a roundup of the best of the bounty of the county, emphasizing the major events planned around the region, places to wine & dine and even ice cream stops along the way for a cool treat!

If you’re bored in Essex County this summer, it’s your own fault,” says Gordon Orr, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI). “It’s a good opportunity to get out and explore these great communities and see how diverse Essex County and our region truly is.”

He adds, “Sometimes, we take it all for granted, but we have a great story to tell in this region and taking time to participate in these events and visit our neighbours is a fantastic way to spend summer weekends.”

Last June the cover story of Biz X focused on wineries, breweries and entertainment businesses/organizations, like Escape Rooms, the Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village, Point Pelee Karting, the Chimczuk Museum, The Rum Runners Tour, Windsor River Cruises and Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens.

For our 2019 summer tourism issue we take a different twist and concentrate on unique county events and tourism-type businesses (minus the obvious things to do like golfing and winery/brewery tours). Keep in mind that the events profiled are from mid-July to the end of September only.

So pull out your map and a calendar, gas up the family vehicle and discover all there is to do this summer when visiting our area towns.

DESTINATION: KINGSVILE

A variety of major events are featured on Kingsville’s summer schedule, which is guaranteed to draw visitors from across the region and beyond.

One of the most spectacular festivals planned throughout Essex County for 2019 is the “Tall Ships Challenge” Ontario tour, which takes place in the Port of Kingsville August 16 to 18 during the “Tall Ships Festival.”

We have been working on this for almost two years and it was quite a coup to get this festival to come to Kingsville,” explains Maggie Durocher, Manager of Programs for The Corporation of the Town of Kingsville’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We are the only Canadian port on Lake Erie and we’re very excited about putting on this wonderful event. We’re looking forward to a great weekend with many other events and attractions surrounding the festival.”

In addition to visits by numerous majestic tall ships, the weekend events include daily ship tours, sail excursions, dinner cruises, an artisan and vendor market, on-board entertainment and local cuisine on three different ships.

As well, a “Toast to Kingsville” at the Grovedale House features local food, entertainment and nautical displays.

Among the vessels planning to stop in Kingsville are tall ships such as the Bluenose II, Empire Sandy, Picton Castle and Fair Jeanne, as well as the HMCS Oriole and a Canadian Coast Guard ship.

If you’re looking for some locally handcrafted gifts and products along with wine, food, song, great friends and summer vibes, you might want to drop into Pelee Island Winery, 455 Seacliff Drive for the “#heartmade Vendor Market,” which runs from noon until 5 p.m. on July 28, August 25 and September 8.

The market features locally handcrafted gifts and other items, as well as food & drink provided by King’s Landing Catering and Pelee Island wines, says organizer Tara Brown. There is also entertainment by Ray Allen on July 28, Ramble Hill on August 25 with Bob Gabriele and Dan Woods performing on September 8.

Brown, who organizes events for female business owners under the SolopreneurSisters.com banner, says the market is part of the “Summer Sundays” program hosted by the winery.

Next up, theKingsville Folk Music Festival has become a must-stop on the festival circuit for musicians and fans alike from all across North America.

Staged in Lakeside Park, 315 Queen Street, the three day event — organized by Michele and John Law for the past six years — features musicians, workshops and children’s activities throughout the park.

This year’s featured performers include Serena Ryder, Oscar Lopez, The Swinging Belles, Union Duke, Crissi Cochrane and Danny Michel, as well as Windsor’s Brendan Scott Friel.

The festival runs from August 9 to 11.

And while out and about in Kingsville, be sure to make a pit stop at the Jack Miner Sanctuary, 332/360 Road 3 West for a honkin’ good time!

BITES TO EAT: There’s no shortage of fine food choices in Kingsville with many restaurants within walking distance of each other along the town’s main street and adjacent side streets.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite after attending all the wonderful events, a visit to one of the town’s restaurants might be in order.

They include Biz X Award winner Mettawas Station Italian Mediterranean Grill, 169 Lansdowne Avenue; Grove Brew House, which features craft beers, at 12 Main Street East; O’Sarracino Trattoria and Wine Bar, an Italian eatery, 31 Main Street West; and Jack’s Gastro Pub, located just a few steps off the main street at 31 Division Street South.

ICE CREAM STOPS: For a tasty treat, visit Cindy’s Home and Garden at 585 Seacliff Drive and peruse their gift selections before enjoying an ice cream cone on the patio adjacent to the store. (They also have a night market on August 9 in the parking lot from 5 to 9 p.m.).

Another cool spot is Dairy Freez, 36 County Road 34 W in Kingsville, just between Cottam and Essex. This family run drive-in restaurant has been serving the area since 1954.

DESTINATION: AMHERSTBURG

One of the most interesting events taking place over the summer is the second annual “Amherstburg Uncommon Festival,” in King’s Navy Yard Park along the Detroit River, September 27 to 29.

Organizers invite visitors and residents alike to dress as wizards or in full steampunk costumes for a weekend of magic, cosplay and interaction with odd and peculiar characters along Dalhousie Street.

We have moved the event from August to September to allow people to go over the top with their costumes and be comfortable in fall weather,” explains Anne Rota, Manager of Tourism and Culture for the Town of Amherstburg. “Last year, ‘Amherstburg Uncommon’ was named ‘Best New Festival’ in Ontario by Festivals and Events Ontario and this year promises to be even better.”

This year’s event includes an Innovation Pavilion for children, a concert, an outdoor movie and a “Fantastic Feast” dinner.

For more information you can check out the town’s new tourism website which was unveiled late June by Cinnamon Toast Media.

The new site celebrates Amherstburg’s assets and quality of life promoting tourism and cultural opportunities. The website includes the town’s fresh, new tourism logo, stunning photography and compelling blogs about all that Amherstburg has to offer. It will help build a competitive tourist and investment industry that attracts new markets, a targeted demographic of tourists and savvy consumers while boosting its social media presence.

Not only will this brand and new website help our town generate brand awareness across key markets, attract an influx of tourism and repeat business, but it will also instill a sense of community pride as we showcase what residents already know about Amherstburg that it’s an exceptional place to be!” says Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Back to the town’s event line up, July 20 &21 everybody and their dog can enjoy the seventh annual “Woofa~Roo Pet Fest” at the Libro Credit Union Centre. 

For car buffs, there’s “Amherstburg’s Gone Crazy Car Show” on July 28 on streets spread out around downtown. Vehicles on display include muscle cars, custom street machines, street/rat rods and more. Food/refreshments are available for purchase and entertainment from Bigg Wiggle will keep the party hopping.

It’s become one of the town’s signature events over the past 14 years,” says Eleanor Renaud, one of the event’s original founders. “We have people bringing their cars from across Ontario and also Michigan. It’s also a family event for people who want to shop, visit our restaurants and also look at the great cars.”

If you’re up for a mental challenge, try the “Fort Malden Escape Room and Games Festival” on Saturday August 3 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 100 Laird Avenue.

In addition to a variety of mobile escape rooms, the festival features sumo wrestling and jousting along with a host of new games. You can even battle against your friends in a sumo match! The cost is $34.30 for the escape challenge and $9.80 for the festival alone. There’s also food, refreshment and live music. The event is weather dependent so before heading out check the website.

Next travel back to the past at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum (277 King Street) to experience the history of the Underground Railroad .

And the Gibson Gallery, 140 Richmond Street, is marking its 50th anniversary this year when it opened in the historic Michigan Central Railroad Station. While the actual 50th celebration took place in June, there are still many events planned for the remainder of the summer including the gallery’s signature “Art By The River” show on the grounds of Fort Malden August 24&25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

It’s remarkable that we have been able to sustain the gallery as a vital part of our community, despite not receiving any funding from the two, or any level of government,” says Bonnie Deslippe, the gallery’s Office Administrator and Chairperson for the “Art By The River” exhibitors. “‘Art By The River’ is our major fundraiser and the rest essentially comes from membership dues and donations, but we couldn’t do any of it without a dedicated cast of volunteers.”

This year’s event features more than 160 exhibitors and vendors, as well as entertainment and food from both booths and some local food trucks.

Gibson Gallery is a registered non-profit organization and the public may visit free of charge. To commemorate its anniversary, the gallery is open for extended hours in July and August.

For further details on this Essex County gallery, upcoming exhibits and “Art By The River,” visit their website.

BITES TO EAT: Situated right downtown in the ‘burg, our picks include Artisan Grill, 269 Dalhousie Street; fine Italian dining at Riccardo’s Italian Restaurant, 238 Dalhousie Street and the Lord Amherst Public House & Wine Lounge, which features British pub food and an imported beer selection, at 273 Dalhousie.

Or you can take a brief trip across the water and pay a visit to the Bob-Lo Beach House Restaurant on Bob-Lo Island Boulevard.

On the way home, if the family is with you, check out The Fort Fun Centre, 689 Texas Road for laser tag, bowling, arcade games and some great grub!

Couples or a group of friends may also want to swing by Wolfhead Distillery, 7781 Howard Avenue for a craft beer and a fine selection of whisky and vodka for the perfect complement to an eclectic menu.

ICE CREAM STOPS: Top off all the fun with an ice cream cone or sundae at Waterfront Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt, 229 Dalhousie Street (across from the Navy Yard Park).

This Biz X award winning business is now open for its 40th season and features over 50 flavours of hand-scooped ice cream, soft serves, frozen yogurts, shakes and more!

DESTINATION: LEAMINGTON/RUTHVEN
Markets and festivals are also a big part of summer in Leamington.

If you’re a fan of barbecued ribs then you won’t want to miss the “Leamington Ribfest” in Seacliff Park (Seacliff Drive West and Forest Avenue) July 19 to 21, for mouth-watering ribs, craft beverages, local vendors and entertainment.

There’s also the “Music On The 42” Summer Concert Series (July 13, July 27, August 10 and August 17) where you can dance the night away at the amphitheatre on the beachfront. Free admission! See the lineup of entertainment and start times at on the website.

And elsewhere in Leamington, the “Mill Street Markets,” a series of night markets running through the year, including August 9 at 4 p.m., take place at 111 Erie Street North. The markets feature a variety of street food, craft drinks and food, clothing vendors, handcrafted gifts from local artisans and entertainment produced by The Bank Theatre.

On September 14, visitors and residents alike can help celebrate “Mexican Independence Day” with “Noche Mexicana” in Seacliff Park beginning at 4 p.m. Organized by the Mexican Consulate it features dancing, music and food.

If you are ready for all these Leamington adventures mentioned and want to know a few more fun things to do, refer to the website: OnThe42.com for the full event calendar.

In addition, a major town attraction, the Leamington Raceway opens for its sixth season on August 4 and runs every Sunday until October 27. The racetrack is located at the Leamington Fairgrounds, 194 Erie Street North (Highway #77, Essex County.).

It’s a fun afternoon for the whole family,” says General Manager of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association, Wayne Martinuik. “Crowds have been growing, and last year we had about 800 people for each race day.”

There are 10 races on each card and drivers are mostly local with a few from across southwestern Ontario, including London and Woodstock.

This year, “Family Day” happens on September 4. Last year, the raceway gave away 35 bikes and much the same is planned. For more information on special events at the track, click on the link above.

And, as the summer winds down, there’s the annual “Ruthven Apple Festival” at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens (550 Road 3 East, Kingsville) on September 28&29.

The free event includes rides, games for children, a car show, a craft and vendor market, as well as a farmers’ market.

Proceeds from the festival benefit Community Living Essex County in support of people with an intellectual disability and their families.

BITES TO EAT: You won’t be disappointed by the restaurant and café choices available in Leamington. They include Lakeside Bakery Deli Café, which features fresh breads and pastries, as well as assorted paninis, sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads in the adjacent Wine Bar at 286 Erie Street South.

We serve local wines and local beer in our Wine Bar and we source virtually all our produce from local growers and greenhouses,” says Manager Danielle Tartaro. “We pride ourselves on our farm-to-table philosophy because we believe it is important to support local businesses.”

Other choices include Annabelle’s Tea Room and Restaurant, 76 Main Street East; Birdie’s Perch (a unique double-decker bus dining and take-away experience), 625 Point Pelee Drive; Freddy’s Cocktail Lounge & Restaurant, 655 Point Pelee Drive and Paula’s Fish Place, 857 Point Pelee Drive, Essex County.

COVER STORY CONTINUES ON PAGE 18.

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