Little Current Lions Haweater Weekend bustles with action under blue sunny skies
LITTLE CURRENT—A warm August sun dispelled any concerns that the rain earlier in the week might have caused as Haweaters and wannabes gathered in the thousands to celebrate the Island’s premier homecoming during the August Civic Holiday long weekend.
The weekend may officially start with the dignitaries gathering at the cenotaph on Friday evening, but the festivities were well underway Thursday evening as the Miss Manitoulin pageant held its gala event at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre. This year’s winner was Katie Harper of Little Current. Kayla McFarlane of Providence Bay was first runner up, Miss Congeniality and won the Haweater Pride award while second runner up was Nekiiyaa Noakes of M’Chigeeng.
Local service club and church fundraisers take full opportunity to hold fundraising events that add tremendous flavour, both figuratively and literally, to the weekend. On Friday evening the Royal Canadian Legion held a steak dinner before its country-themed dance.
The opening ceremonies saw local political dignitaries introduced by master of ceremonies Marcel Gauthier, who urged everyone to “Keep Calm and Act Like a Haweater.”
“(Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP) Carol Hughes is all over the place,” said Mr. Gauthier, “but she always comes to see us on Haweater Weekend.”
“There is so much going on Haweater Weekend,” said Ms. Hughes, as she put in a belated plug for the Legion dinner. “Next year you have to go down to take advantage.”
Ms. Hughes noted that it had started to rain as she left Sudbury to come to the Island. “I thought ‘this is going to be a first’,” she said. “But look at the sunshine here this evening. I always say, this is God’s country.”
The MP went on to extol the virtues of the many volunteers who make Haweater an outstanding success. “And a big thank you to everybody else,” she added.
“As soon as you get on Highway 6 south of Espanola something happens to your lead foot,” said Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha, celebrating the relaxed atmosphere for which Manitoulin Island is legend. The MPP apologized for not being able to attend the Sunday parade, however. “I did try to change the family wedding…”
Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin welcomed everyone to the 47th edition of Haweater Weekend. “Mike Mantha was commenting on how I was overdressed,” said the mayor, who was sporting the traditional blue sport jacket and tie he dons when representing the community. “I told him that this is the Island bass fishing outfit. It smells a little fishy, but you look great.”
Mayor MacNevin also welcomed the sunshine. “I don’t think we have seen sunshine like this since June,” he said. “But it is here today.”
Lion Gauthier then introduced Miss Manitoulin as “one more distinguished guest” and thanked her in advance for her attendance at the many events during the weekend.
Incoming Lion president and Haweater chair Bruce Burnett was praised by Mr. Gauthier during his introduction “for his countless hours of hard work ensuring that Haweater is a success,” but Lion Burnett deflected that praise onto the many local sponsors of the event, the 18 Lion members who work diligently during the weekend and the countless other volunteers who step up to assist. “We always have volunteers,” he said. “But this year they seemed to be coming out of the woodwork with offers to help.”
Lion Burnett ended his short speech with an exhortation to “have fun, but please don’t drink and drive.”
Drinking and driving would have been a very foolish move this weekend, as the local constabulary were out in full force, with plenty of OPP officers and UCCM Tribal Police on patrol by foot, bicycle, ATV and boat. Many residents could be heard commenting Monday morning on how quiet the weekend late nights were in comparison to several years past.
The horse pull event was a great place to hear about how the Island’s agricultural sector is doing this summer, with folks discussing the yields on various crops between assessing the chances of each of the teams and their teamsters.
Kevin Gilbert handling Sam and Dan took the heavyweight category, hauling a mind-bending 8,500 pounds a distance of 10 feet. The lightweight category was secured by Doug Thompson coaxing Josh and Doc, who hauled 7,500 pounds a distance of three feet.
The daytime was certainly bustling, however. Among the many visitors milling through the local shops, businesses and sampling the wares of the vendors who flock to Haweater Weekend each year were many of the nearly 200 passengers on the Pearl Mist, a visiting cruise ship that arrived early Sunday morning. Although the cruise ship will be a familiar sight in the Port of Little Current this summer, tied up on the waterfront docks, this weekend the passengers came ashore in a large 40-person launch to a landing dock near Kool-It Ice.
The cardboat boat race is among the most popular family events taking place each Haweater, as hundreds of parents, grandparents and other family members and friends gather to cheer their favourite vessels on, or under as the case might be.
Results from the race were in the 8-11 category, heat 1, L’eau Rider first with Alex Bedard paddling, HSF II was second with Darwin and Cash paddling and no other boat survived to claim third. In the second heat it was Catching Fire powered by Autumn Deschenes and Jenna Legault who crossed first, followed by Rainbow Racers with Grace Varnasso and Katie Chapman and Water Racers in third place with AJ Steeves and Maggie Chapman paddling.
In the 12-15 age category, it was Moustache Mermaids in first with Taylin Legault and Kathryn Rondina paddling, Big Splash in second powered by Sydney Koehler and Erika Brown and Lazy Daisy, being not so lazy at all, came in third with Taylor Burnett on the paddle.
In the 16 and over category it was Dragon Boat powered by Morgan Buras and Ryan Burns in first, with Island Girl paddlers Anna and Monica Ferguson coming in at second place and Sunk, with Finlay Ferguson and Ric Allison paddling, finishing off with a third place finish.
The always popular, with the crowd in any event, Titanic Award for most spectacular sinking went to One Shade of Grey powered by Ben Marshall and Boston Thibault. Island Girl’s Anna and Monica Ferguson captured the best-decorated cardboard boat prize.
The business class trophy for 2014 went to the Hawberry Motel.
The Hot Wheels competition, overseen by Brian Garinger of Motorsports race division, saw the superpro division won by Jim Barnett, runnerup Daniel Barber, Hailee Harasym took first in the semi-pro division, runnerup Cole Laidley and the street division winner was Bohdie Brock, runner up Ben Toupe.
For the older competitive crowd there were the euchre and cribbage competitions at the recreation centre. The cribbage winners were Betty Gammie and Lina Condie in first place, Henry Nahwegahbow and Anthony Smrke in second place and Dorothy Allard and Ken Pepper in third place. Euchre winners were Eva Bond and Reta Parkinson in first place, Nancy Milburn and Glen Gammie in second place and Sandra Keatley and Doris Bayer in third place.
Although numbers were down slightly at the Hawfest Dance, the party was still a great hit with the weekend crowd.
The Sunday Haweater parade was again a fan favourite with all members of the family and weekend visitors as well. This year the three prizes went to Dionne Enterprizes, The Red Hats and The Hillbilly Clan Outhouse. “There are no first, second or third prizes,” said parade marshal Marcel Gauthier. “Prizes are awarded randomly.”
The Sunday evening MuchMusic Street Dance kept things hopping downtown in the evening as people gathered in anticipation for the night’s top event.
The culmination of Haweater Weekend has always been the outstanding fireworks display above the North Channel on Sunday evening and this year the display was truly spectacular.
As the members of the Little Current Lions Club settle in for a well deserved month-long rest following the weekend’s herculean efforts on behalf of the Island community a swarm of happy revelers made their way back to their homes on foot, bicycle and by car, the payoff was there to see in the broad smiles and excited chatter of all ages.