By MAGGIE M, Editor, Wedgee-in-Chief, theWedge.LIVE
I expected to hear a Southern drawl from the voices of locals as I entered the village of Spencerville for the first time. It just seemed to have such Southern charm in its architecture. I was wowed by its sinuous main road leading to a visual climax.
As you will learn, I did in fact experience that Southern charm–and perhaps, moonshine.
Most idyllic towns and villages have a river running through them. Spencerville is set around the South Nation River with a beautifully restored mill, now a museum on its banks. The first mill was built by Peleg Spencer in 1811–over 200 years ago.The patina of the early 1800s oozes whichever direction you look.
The adjoining park was a vision from its iron bicycle-wheels-benches portal to the rock garden at its furthest point. You can have a picnic under a gazego and admire the whole park.
This village made my heart sing. And my mind wander.
Is it me sitting on the banks of the river with a fishing rod, an ‘ol straw hat, sipping on a root beer under a hot afternoon sun while not too far away the strumming of a mandolin fills the air? No, but it could be if I lived here.
My eyes then landed on a mother with her two toddlers fishing for koi. The smallest of the two was enamored by his tiny catch splashing in a bucket. I’ll settle for that sweet image.
How it feels good to be away from devices and urban clamor.
I wasn’t day-dreaming on the music front. The 6th South Grenville Bluegrass Festival was in full progress a short distance from where I stood.
It was time to change the tempo.
I arrived at the festival grounds and was awestruck by the vast expanse of RVs, all attendees of the Festival. There were as many RVs behind my lens as in front. Tour guide “Coco” took me for a ride in the VIP golf cart to capture the grounds. My signature is now engraved on its ceiling–along with a few hundred others.
Then, Coco drove me to the powers that be.
Nestled inside a triangular enclave–the result of three RVs parked end-to-end–I was introduced to the key event organizers.
Without fanfare, I was handed a mason jar filled with peaches and a non-descript libation. I assumed it was some iteration of moonshine. However, I aimed to keep my wits about me and limited my acceptance of this gift to dipping my taste buds.
I earned myself a jamming session, an authentic Bluegrass performance that had me jigging on the inside. That’s what bluegrass does.
Lisa Pigeau on the base, young Shawn Wallace on the mandolin and Pete Deachman on the guitar were an unexpected delight. Their band, County Road 44, were next on the main stage.
Deachman spoke to me after this impromptu set. The man speaks in bluegrass lyrics–it’s a language all its own. He hosts, “Grasstowne,” airing Sundays, 101.9 CFRC, Queen’s Campus Community Radio, Kingston.
Forty volunteers were hosts to up to 2,000 visitors. The organizing committee is worthy of praise : Bernie Colville, Beth Nicol, Cathy Henry, Danielle Giroux, David Porter, Donald Tarte, Kim Wallace, Lisa Pigeau, Lucien Giroux and Terry Render.
I also took in a performance by Maple Hill, a duet by Pat Moore and Garry Greenland, at the main stage in the Drummond Centre. It was Bluegrass perfection.
It was a wrap for me. The day had been long with a visit to an animal sanctuary followed by a stop at a vineyard. Wayne who owns and operates Weiners, a food truck for events, was running the kitchen that night. He whipped up a BLT and a cool drink for the road. Off I went into the sunset.
SEPTEMBER IS STORMING IN
The 164th Spencerville Fair looms “bigly.” The four-day affair is often called, “the biggest little fair in Eastern Ontario.” It is the go-to event this September 12 -15.
You can hardly get more entertainment in one fair : petting zoo, horse and cattle displays, arts and crafts competitions and exhibits, poultry and small animal shows, a midway, tractor pulls, demolition derby, helicopter rides, live music, and food, food, food.
The Wedge will be there!