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South River site for Outdoor Sports Show

South River site for Outdoor Sports Show

First-ever show to take place over Victoria Day weekend

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The Victoria Day weekend should be a busy one in South River as the community holds its first ever Outdoor Sports Show.

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Dwayne Wanner, president of South River Brewing Co., approached council in February about holding a sports show at the South River-Machar Community Centre.

Council jumped on board.

Since then, general manager Jacquie Lockhart has been organizing the event.

The supply chain shortages caused by COVID are still being felt by some businesses, while others are still running into employee shortages.

“Some of the area businesses we wanted here can’t come because they don’t have the staff and enough products to sell,” Lockhart said.

“But those that said they can’t be here also said they’ll come in the future if we do it again.”

Lockhart says the arena can accommodate about 40 vendors and, despite the COVID setback, 30 exhibitors so far have committed to being part of the show.

These vendors will occupy either a 10-by-15 foot area at a cost of $200 or a 20-by-15 foot booth for $500.

“We have lots of local and area businesses that cater to the tourist industry and outdoor sports,” Lockhart said.

“When Dwayne suggested it, he thought it would be one way to bring people to South River for a weekend and promote the community.”

Most of the vendors are from the South River area and across the Almaguin Highlands in addition to some coming in from North Bay.

“We’ll have dock builders, people with ATVs, boats, camping and hiking equipment, artisans with crafts and cottage and home-related items,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart says the long weekend was intentionally picked as the time to hold the Outdoor Sports Show because it’s the unofficial start to summer when numerous people return to the area to open their cottages for the season.

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It’s a period when the population almost doubles in the region and Lockhart expects many cottage owners, year-round Almaguin residents and people from North Bay to take in the show.

While the exhibitors will have their wares inside the arena, a corral-like area is being created outside where the public can sell their used recreational vehicles.

“So if you’re looking to sell a boat, canoe or an ATV, bring it,” Lockhart said.

The cost for the owner to display their used vehicle is $25, which covers both days of the sports show.

The Canadian Armed Forces will also have an outdoor information booth for people interested in learning what Canada’s military has to offer.

The South River Lions Club will also be present with a barbeque both days, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to a community project the Lions plan to sponsor.

A beer tent is also being set up outdoors by South River Brewing Co.

The Outdoor Sports Show takes place Saturday May 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is $5.

To kick things off for the long weekend, South River Brewing Co is holding two free concerts at the brewery.

The first is the Friday evening heading into the long weekend at 7:30 p.m. featuring Muskoka guitarist Mighty Lopez, who plays a wide genre of music ranging from blues, bluegrass, folk, country and rockabilly.

Saturday evening sees Sean Cotton, also from Muskoka, picking up his guitar at 8 p.m. to perform a variety of musical genres in addition to his own compositions.

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A guide with all the exhibitors is now at the printers, but Lockhart says since some space remains, more exhibitors are welcome and the names of their businesses will be added as inserts to the guide.

Lockhart said the company would also like to put on a fall show at the arena which may give the businesses that can’t show up this time another opportunity to display their products in a large setting.

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Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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