Kleinburg Binder Twine Festival
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
According to the historical information set out on their website, the Kleinburg Binder Twine Festival “began in the late 1800’s when farmers came to the community to buy twine to bind their sheaves of wheat together”. It all started when “Charlie Shaw, owner of Shaw’s Hardware Store in Kleinburg, offered food and entertainment to the visiting farmers” It continued until his death in 1931. Like so many other festivals, the Binder Twine concept was revived in 1967 as a centennial project. Today the festival is one of the most popular in southern Ontario.
Kleinburg is located just north of Toronto, about an hour. There was an off site parking lot available, so we turned into to park. A shuttle bus was already waiting for passengers. Soon after we had climbed aboard the bus took off for the short ride to the festival.
We were let off at the McMichael Art Gallery, the spiritual home of the Group of Seven. The main street, Islington Avenue, is completely closed for the festival and the south festival entrance is right where we were left off and entered the Binder Twine world…
Main Street Kleinburg…
The whole street, as far as you could see, was line with white tents.
The tents were gleaming in the sunshine. Each tent represented a festival juried craft exhibitor. The first booth we stopped at featured “turned” wooden bowls and plates. The booth was Timber Works owned by Arnold Veen (Barrie). The workmanship was amazing!
The way that tents were set up along either side of the street was great. It made looking at the creation in each booth so much easier. Passed There were a variety of craft products being exhibited, including stained glass, preserves, clothing, paintings, jewelry and home décor.
Interspersed amongst the vendor tents were food kiosks. Foods being offered included Bacon on a Bun, Apple Pie and Corn on the Cob. Part way down the road there was lane that led to “Children’s World“.
They were just setting it up when we arrived, but it looked like they were going to have a lot of great activities for the kids. One attraction that Judi just love (????) was the Reptile House. One of the handles was out front with a beautiful yellow coloured snake. From there it was back to the exhibitors…
In many towns downtown merchants and festivals don’t mix, but hat’s not the case in Kleinburg.
We were impressed with the blend of retail stores and craft exhibitors. The festival organizers and downtown retail store owners seemed to work together to make the festival cohesive and interesting.
Many store properties has vendor tents or attractions on them. At one of the main intersections, one corner had a group of ladies spinning wool on old fashion spinning wheels, on the opposite corner another group was selling pillows to raise money for charity.
A little further down the road, at the Doctor’s House Restaurant, the parking lot was full of craft tents.
One of the booths we visited there was Teddy Bears. We have seen a lot of Teddy Bear booths in our travels, but this was unique. There was a stuffing machine in the middle of the booth! I guess I had never thought how stuffed animals become stuffed, so watching the bears get stuffed was quite the revelation.
So much so that I asked the lady who was doing the stuffing if I could take a picture. She said “Only if it’s just of the stuffing machine”! I said “no problem” and that’s the picture seen in this article. After we had visited the Doctor’s House booths, we went back to the main intersection. It was here that I heard the sound of Bagpipes. I had to go and investigate…
Binder Twine Parade and More…
Just outside the north entrance kids and adults were getting ready for the Binder Twine parade. The pipers had been warming up.
Since the parade wasn’t going to start for a little while, we decided to take a look at the “Old Tyme Activities” display that was set up near the entrance.
The display area consisted of demonstrations and interactive exhibits. A re-enactor (Gordon Miller) was working on squared timber with his chisel and mallet. As he worked he explained to those watching him what he was doing. Other displays included stilt walking and a basketball court where apple basket were used as nets.
We heard the Bagpipes start up again, so we knew it was time for the parade. The first through the North Gate was the Kleinburg Binder Twine Festival banner.
This was followed by colourful floats and wagons, decorated old cars, kids in costumes, fire trucks and of course the pipe band.
The wagons were decorated with bright flowers (a lot of sunflowers) and hay, all adding to the harvest theme of the festival.
The children were dressed in pioneer costumes and throwing out candy to the parade watchers. Everyone, marchers and onlookers alike, had a great time.
After the parade ended, the crowds lining the street dispersed and went back to enjoying the festival…
More Crafts and Music…
On our way back to the South Gate we again explored the crafts booths along the way.
This time it was coming from band members who were tuning up their instruments. A stage had been set up in an alcove just east of the main street. People were starting to gather to listen to the performers. Judi and I sat down at one of the table waiting for the concert to begin.
Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long. The conductor introduced herself and the band and the music began. We stayed to listen to a few selections and then left.
We headed back to the South Gate and the Shuttle Bus, it was time to leave. The Kleinburg Binder Twine Festival was a wonderful a event and we had a great “tyme“.
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