Near perfect weather and the opportunity for thousands of area residents and guests to get up close and personal with some six tall ships will likely be indelibly marked as the weekend of the summer.
So say organizers of last weekend’s Tall Ships Celebration, an event that was months in the planning, combining the Bluewater BorderFest concert series and Artzscape by the Bay.
One of the organizers, Mark Perrin, who founded Bluewater BorderFest before taking over the reins of Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, said the numbers indicated a great success.
“Hotel rooms were full, and sold out in most cases on both Friday and, for sure, Saturday night,” said Perrin.
“We’re hearing a lot of great feedback from the community’s restaurant and hotel operators. It’s really a boost to our local economy.”
Rob Harwood, Sarnia’s director of parks and recreation, was part of the organizing team given the City’s commitment to underwrite the event.
He estimates close to 10,000 people came through the gates of the Tall Ships Celebration on Saturday alone, with lines stretching back to Exmouth Street for some time.
Ships featured at the event included the Bluenose II, Empire Sandy, a replica of the Nao Santa Maria, Picton Castle, Fair Jeanne and Appledore IV.
Vendors and exhibitors were also part of the fun, one of those being Alton Farms Winery, who took space in the restaurant tent.
“It was nice to see all the people here,” said co-owner Marc Alton. “It was a great community event.”
Apparently there is already talk among the boat crews about a return visit in three years, said Harwood.
Artzscape, an annual fundraiser for Pathways Health Centre for Children, took the opportunity to align itself with the Tall Ships weekend, along with BorderFest.
“It was fabulous,” said Jenny Greensmith, executive director of Pathways. “We probably had close to 7,000 people come through.”
Typically that’s about double attendance in previous years, said Greensmith.