Thousands travel to Manitoulin to help celebrate 2019 Haweater Weekend

NIGHT BLOOMS—Dazzling displays of colour erupted in the skies above the North Channel while thousands of appreciative spectators cheered in awe. The 52nd edition of the Little Current Lions Club's Haweater Weekend was blessed with great weather and plenty of family oriented fun in the sun. Photo by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT – This year’s Haweater Weekend festivities took over Little Current for the 52nd straight year this past weekend, offering thrills for all ages and memories that won’t son be forgotten.

Little Current Lions Club President Bruce Burnett led the opening ceremonies Friday evening and welcomed Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes to be the first to speak.

 “Haweater Weekend is a great opportunity to celebrate all that Manitoulin is, for friends and families here to celebrate. It’s great fun, great energy,” said Ms. Hughes.

She encouraged a round of applause for the Lions because of the many things they do for the communities they serve, especially the many Lions Clubs on Manitoulin Island. She also made special reference to the recently opened splash pad at Low Island Park that was made possible in part by a donation by the Little Current Lions Club.

Lion Bruce then called up the mayor of the Northeast Town.

“Congratulations to the Lions on another successful Haweater Weekend. It’s going to give a lot of opportunities to enjoy the best of Manitoulin, good food and good fun,” said Mayor Al MacNevin. He offered his congratulations to Lion Bruce and noted that a handful of Lions make this event possible every year.

Lion Bruce spoke last and said the organizing committee had been working for months to create an event for all ages. He expressed his gratitude to the town for getting all the sports fields and facilities ready for the event and urged everyone to enjoy themselves, be smart and to not drink and drive.

On Saturday morning, the Haw Run welcomed 97 competitors who took part in one-, five- or 10-kilometre races. Lindsay Moreau-Verlaan took first place in the 10K with a time of 42:34 and Gordie Chown came first in the 5K with a time of 22:10. 

Haw Run organizer Nelson Wood said this year’s races raised $1,135 for the Northeast Town Public Library.

Lindsey Tarr and Kirsten Bowerman represented Assiginack Childcare in the business division and brought home a resounding victory.

That was far from the only competition for Haw glory this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, the ever-popular cardboard boat races saw 10 teams out and paddling their homemade creations to the finish line. The teams of Sydney Bradley/Makayla Dunn and Nate/Lily Zimmerman took first place in the 8-11 age division. Isla and Katelyn Cholmondeley took first in the age 12-15 division and Assiginack Childcare, captained by Kirsten Bowerman and Lindsey Tarr, won the business division.

The 26th annual mixed slo-pitch tournament ran throughout the weekend, with the 16-team starting lineup being eventually pared down to the winners, One Swift Strike (A division), The Whatever Team (B division) and Gunning and Running (C division). They received their accolades following their Sunday afternoon games.

It was another great year for the Haweater Parade, back on its popular downtown route, with the Gateway to Life Church, Uncle Steve’s Cabins and Ferguson’s 1938 Chevrolet truck floats winning $50 prizes.

As always, the mammoth Northstar Fireworks display, Thunder Over the Channel, took place at dusk on Sunday evening, drawing thousands to the waterfront to take in a dazzling exposition of another successful year of Haw. They changed up their show a fair amount compared to last year and Lion Bruce said it was one of the best fireworks displays he’d ever seen.

Little Current’s Ryland Priddle has the metaphorical pedal to the metal in the Terrastar Building Products soapbox derby car. He placed first in his heat. Pastor Phil Hovi said he had 96 kids registered to race this year, even more than last year.

Lion Bruce said he was ecstatic with the weekend as a whole.

“We were up around 720 to 730 for the dance on Saturday Night. The downtown core was filled on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; it was phenomenal,” he said. “Last year there was between 15- and 18-thousand people. I’m thinking it was close to 18- to 20-thousand this year.”

He extended his thanks to the many volunteers and Lions Club members who pooled together to make the event a success, as well as the many sponsors. He gave a special thanks to the Carver Kings who donated a considerable amount of their time this weekend.

The multi-kilometre lineups to get off the Island on Monday afternoon were a testament to the number of people who came to experience the best of Haweater Weekend. This 52nd year was certainly one to remember and the Lions have set a high bar for next year’s event.