Bradford, Ontario Carrot Fest

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 Annual Carrot Fest - Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ontario, Canada - August 19 2006

And August 18th 2018 here

John had the privilege of visiting the Bradford West Gwillimbury Carrot Fest on 19 August 2006 (John's birthday!), and a wonderful time was had by all.  The main street is closed to traffic for the day and to make room for all the carrot events and stalls and entertainment to celebrate the Town's agricultural roots.   I even got to visit some carrot packing plants to pick up some carrot bags for Jeff from Cleveland to add to his collection, then moved onto to see the real carrots growing in the marsh.

The Carrot Fest is truly a real family affair with something for everyone. Main events included a carrot cart derby, professional wrestling, all day poker event, arm wrestling, art show, bicycle race, kids village, beer garden, live bands, face painting and a vendor market selling a variety of goods, many of course carroty.

The full local report of the event from the "BWG Times" can be read here. There was even a spaghetti eating contest!!  and why I ask, no Carrot Eating Contest?  - maybe next year.

Gwilly the event  mascot wanders the streets giving out free carrots! The Town Mayor, Frank Johnkman, presented John with a birthday cake (carrot of course!) and a Carrot Fest T Shirt. 

Reported as being the biggest and best Bradford Carrot Fest ever, here is a taste of the fun we all had:

Kayla Bartlett Showing her Carrot face painting

Carrot Fest Poster

Kayla Bartlett proudly sporting her new face - cheeky!

Gwilly gives a taste of things to come.

John with Jenn and Jaclyn

Bradford Welcome Sign

Mr Carrot beholds a couple of beauties - Jenn & Jaclyn

A Warm Carrot Welcome to the Town


Bradford Carrot Fest Emblems

Bradford Carrot Fest - John meets the mayor.

The Carrot Fest emblem everyone seemed to wear one.

John meets the Mayor and Carrot Volunteers

Bradford Carrot Fest - John meets Gwilly

Kate Rutledge Holding Carrots

Gwilly meets Mr Carrot.

Another carrot fan - Kate holding her treasured carrots.

Carrot Fest revisited, 18 August 2018

Bradford Ontario Carrot Fest August 2018 banner

There are several Carrot Festivals around the world, From New Zealand, through Europe and right down to California and the Curator of the World Carrot Museum has visited them all at least once. The last visit to the Bradford Carrot Fest, Ontario was in 2006 and it was considered the time was right to re-visit and see how it had changed over the years.

Bradford Ontario Carrot Fest August 2018

Bradford Ontario Carrot Fest August 2018

Above - John meets the Carrot growers; Left The Bradford Mascots.

Bradford Ontario Carrot Fest August 2018

Above Free Carrots for all! - right have a silly carrot photo

Bradford Ontario Carrot Fest August 2018

The small town of Bradford West Gwillimbury in Ontario Canada comes alive once a year to produce its world famous Carrot Fest street festival, celebrating the area's agricultural heritage and the important role played by the carrot in the economy and the community. The free to enter Carrot Fest is truly a real family affair with something for everyone. The Holland Marsh at Bradford is one of Canada's biggest carrot producing areas with an annual value of the carrots grown in the Marsh estimated at $130 million. Carrots are grown in the area for 11 months of the year.

This annual event has now been celebrated for 20 years and was voted as one of the top 100 events in Ontario by the Festival & Events Ontario for the last eight years. The main street in the town is closed for two days to enable the events to take place in safety and comfort.

The Fest previously took place on one Saturday in August but for the second year running it had been extended to include the previous day. This extra day gives the opportunity for a formal opening ceremony by the Town Mayor and other local dignitaries and then specifically an opportunity for local businesses and vendors to showcase their wares, before the main events on the Saturday commence and when remaining vendors occupy their stalls.

At the official Friday opening, Mayor Rob Keffer thanked town staff and volunteers for their hard work on Carrot Fest every year. “The weather’s a little damp,” he said, “but we look forward to the weather tomorrow.” He was joined on stage by members of council and York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s attorney general. Mulroney also praised the hard work of local residents, and of local farmers, whose efforts have put BWG on the map as the vegetable basket of Ontario. “Tomorrow and tonight, is a celebration of that,” Mulroney said.

Also on Friday evening the Back Alley Cruisers had sent out invitations to every classic, antique and muscle car owner in town for a classic car parade on the Friday evening. Sadly the poor weather meant that this could not take place, but several cars were on static display. Also the entertainers named the “Twisted Ones” delighted kids of all ages with their balloon magic, making everything from a working balloon bow and arrow to a giant balloon dog that one young audience member got to take home. Sadly there were very few in attendance as the rain continued to pour all day.

On the Saturday, the glorious sun returned and the crowds soon swelled to around 8000, the bouncy castles were inflated and 200 vendors who had reserved spaces for their carrot themed stalls were in attendance on the main street and ready to go. The Carrot Fest has two mascots roaming the area throughout the day giving every one a hearty welcome. The mascots are costumed characters named “Gwilly” in his carrot costume, and a rabbit named “Captain Carrot”, who wears a superhero costume with carrots on a holster. Captain Carrot is a character created by DC Comics and is used by the Town of BWG for Carrot Fest with permission.

The Holland Marsh Growers’ Association, representing the major growers in the area, located a trailer load of carrots at the entrance to the Fest and handed out free 1kg bags of Holland Marsh carrots to eager visitors. There was also the regular Farmers Market located just a short walk from the Fest where people could buy fresh local produce and sample the carrots of every color which are ever increasing in popularity. The Bradford Fire & Emergency Services were giving advice on fire safety and kids were permitted to crawl around the Fire Engine while a rescue hoist was giving those brave enough to try, a ride high into to the sky to give people a birds eye view of the Fest.

Several buskers performed in the Fest area including The Fire Guy, Hoop You, Theatre Arcturus’ Lumberjack Show, BMX stunt riders, Itto Fire Show, the Ostrich Rider, and more - with a Flaming Carrot Finale at the end of the day.

Elsewhere the visitors experienced freestyle soccer performers, wrestling, pony rides and a messy face ice-cream eating competition. The Aqua Dogs were making a splash outside the town’s Community Centre all day long; the displays and the shows were well attended and thoroughly enjoyed, as were the free pony rides. Whilst in the vicinity people could step indoors where the Centre was hosting professional wresting bouts. I am not too sure what these events in particular had to do with the celebration of the carrot harvest but everyone seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.

The stage area was occupied throughout the day with 5 excellent Legends tribute bands providing the classic music of the legends of rock ‘n roll and country – everything from Neil Diamond to Bon Jovi, interspersed by an illusionist/magic artist.

A dedicated kids zone had various inflatables for the kids together with craft areas and games which were keeping the kids well amused.

The Bradford Carrot Fest is a great day out for the family, bringing community together and everyone goes home holding a bag of carrots as a nice reminder of their day out.

Overall the Fest was a lot more carrot related than my previous visit but it could of course be more carrot themed and perhaps, like many other “Carrot” Towns it would benefit from the construction of a significant Carrot focal point - either a carrot statue, a mural or an information plaque about the town and its carrot history.

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