Thursday, June 13, 2024

Meaford is Open For Summer

With the Victoria Day long weekend, often referred to as the ‘unofficial start of summer’, now behind us, Meaford is open for summer.

Memorial Park is now open to campers, and the marina has filled up with boats ready for another season. Last week we saw outdoor patios returning to restaurant row on Sykes Street. Those patios have become popular with many residents and visitors alike.

For a small rural municipality where agriculture drives the economy, the summer months offer an opportunity for our tourism sector to shine, to showcase all that this area has to offer, from hiking trails to fine dining.

The first time I ever visited Meaford was during the summer months nearly 20 years ago. I was considering escaping the hustle and bustle of what had become big-city Barrie, and so we took a drive to Meaford to view a house, and to check out the area. That day-long excursion introduced me to this quaint little town with its unique large apple on the main street. After visiting the harbour area and a walk along the waterfront, we ended up at the Leeky Canoe sipping Long Island Iced Teas and watching small town life out the front window.

Falling in love with Meaford during a summer visit convinced me to move here, though it didn’t prepare me for the long, frigid winter months; for that I would have to wait until I moved here a few months after that first visit.

So as the summer months move in, I tend to think of that first visit, when Meaford was a new place for me to explore, a community that I would soon become a part of.

When I moved to Meaford all those years ago, my children were still young, and they loved coming to Meaford for visits. Meaford truly became their second home, and both of my sons at various times expressed their love of the freedom they felt when they were here. In Meaford they could explore on their own, without pesky parents constantly breathing down their necks, much more than they could in their home town of Barrie, which had ten times the population, traffic, and crime. Here in Meaford they could skateboard around town, stopping at the convenience store for some summer treats, without my having to worry as much about their safety.

The Meaford Farmers’ Market was typically the first stop for my sons when they arrived in Meaford. My city-raised sons learned much about our local farms and the range of produce grown and livestock raised in this area, and they enjoyed the activities that would take place at the market outside of the showcasing of our agricultural sector.

My sons also loved the many trails to explore, and they enjoyed many beach days, whether at Memorial Park or one of the small beaches tucked away along our waterfront. There was never a lack of things to do and places to explore in this community when my sons were young, and I have always been thankful that my children had the benefit of getting to know Meaford.

All these years later, though the shine on the apple might have dulled slightly thanks to slowly becoming jaded after years of hearing from residents all of the things that are wrong with this municipality, I still enjoy living here, especially in the summer months.

These days I often try to view this community through the eyes of my children, who marvelled at the natural beauty, enjoyed the slower pace, and embraced this community just as it had embraced them.

One thing that I have the benefit of understanding that my young sons did not all those years ago, was the vibrancy of those who live here, and how much of the joy that is to be found here is thanks to the fine people who give of themselves to make things happen in this little community.

Much of the fun that will happen in this municipality over the summer months will be thanks to the hard work of volunteers, and I don’t think any of us can ever express enough our gratitude for the many folks who offer their time and talents to bring joy to their friends, their neighbours, and those who visit this community.

The hard work and dedication of the numerous community-minded folks in this municipality is something that I quickly learned to respect and appreciate after moving here. To see dozens of people building scarecrows at the harbour in the steamy August heat for an event that is held in late September showed me a community passion that I was not accustomed to in the hectic pace of Barrie life.

That passion can be found throughout this municipality. Right now, folks in Bognor and Annan are busy preparing for their Canada Day celebrations. Volunteers, giving up their time to help organize a big bash that celebrates the good fortune we have to call this nation home. The Bognor Canada Day event in particular has always been a favourite of mine, and if you have never experienced it, I would highly recommend spending Canada Day with the fine folks in our rural areas.

As May shifts into June, students will have one eye on the calendar, eagerly awaiting that final bell that will send them out of school and into a couple of months of summer fun. But, as we all know well, the summer months can fly by in a blur, and before we know it, the Fall Fair will be here, and that dang school bell will be ringing once again.

So the first long weekend of the summer has come and gone, and Meaford is now open for summer. Make the most of it, have fun, and most of all, be safe.

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