Great way to spend Canada Day

On the heels of a mediocre year of events celebrating the Sault’s 100th birthday and the bicentennial of the War of 1812, I can confidently say that few events have wowed me lately. The Passport to Unity, Relay for Life, BonSoo Gourmet Dinner at Sault College, and Buskerfest events are truly notable; and I can now add the Canada Day Hub Trail Festival as something to look forward to, hopefully annually.

There was little fanfare leading up to it, but I did happen to see a colourful ad in the local paper that was compelling enough to clip and read. (There are advantages to getting an actual newspaper).

Billed as a free family event, Saultites and visitors alike were challenged to “go green” and discover the Hub Trail on Canada Day. From nature appreciation, fresh air, and exercise to freebies and chances to win prizes, what wasn’t to love about the event?

Perhaps I’m getting nostalgic as every year in Ottawa I would spend the better part of the day walking or biking downtown on the Capital’s wonderful bike path for the festivities and fireworks. What better way to appreciate the wonderful country we are celebrating then by getting outdoors?!

My kids and I began our tour at Velorution. We were given free bike bells (and they even installed them for us) and our passport card now had its first destination sticker. If we had 25 kilometers of biking in us, we’d only have five more destinations to go before filling out our card completely, but I wanted this to be something the kids would want to do again, so I didn’t even suggest it (maybe next year).

Our next stop was Finn Hill. We opted to drive here with the bikes loaded in the back of the truck, as my son is still mastering his brakes. Again we’ll place that in the “we’ll try it next year” file. Algoma Public Health was giving out free bags, sunscreen samples, and band-aids all adorned with positive health messages along with our second destination sticker.

We grabbed some freebies and were off to the Roberta Bondar Pavillion for the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Bicycle Rodeo. The kids thought that the chalk arrows were a bit difficult to follow through the course, but they had fun and they entered their names to win one of six bikes.

Then, we strolled over to the Roberta Bondar Tent, and after getting a free Canada flag pin each, and applying our math skills at the “guess how many candies are in the jar” station, we jumped back on our bicycles.

We biked along the water to the Bushplane Heritage Centre. The sun was shining, the water was sparkling, it was a beautiful ride. While there, we were rewarded with our third sticker for our passports and the choice of a free Canada baseball cap or reusable shopping bag.

Continuing on to Algoma University, the construction on Queen street turned that section of road into a bumpy obstacle course. We eventually made it to the University and accepted a drink of water before trying the “feat of strength” hand squeeze ‘testometer.’ I’m not sure what my score of 108 exactly meant, but I was told it was excellent and we’ll leave it at that. They were out of the free t-shirts promised in the ads, so they took down our names, telephone numbers and t-shirt sizes as they plan to make good on their offer (how very nice!)

Back at the Bondar Pavillion, we were told that you had to be onsite for the draw to win prizes for having gotten stickers from the various stations on our passports. Seeing my daughter’s face start to drop, I diverted her attention to a cotton candy vendor selling sweet distraction the size of a watermelon for $2.

Then we bopped along and did a Métis craft, answered PUC energy-smart questions, were gifted some nice prizes at a couple of fish ponds, and started feeling the heat exhaustion sink in. We wouldn’t make it to the Marconi Club for lemonade or to the Fort Creek Conservation Area for their nature quiz; but again I thought “There’s always next year.”

With that, I truly hope that there is a next year and a next year. I was impressed with the numbers out on the paths, and I was encouraged that cyclists shared the paths so well (granted those bike bells from Velorution sure came in handy to signal our approach to pedestrians and slower bikers).

To the organizers, staff, sponsors, and volunteers involved with the Hub Trail Festival 2013, my children and I would like to truly thank you for a wonderful afternoon.

We hope to see you next year!


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