What Travel Writers Say

Waterford is Pumpkin Heaven

© by George Bailey
Like the colour orange? Travel to the sleepy pretty hamlet of Waterford, near Simcoe. This town of 3,000 comes alive on the third weekend of October (this year it's October 14th to the 16th) with its annual Pumpkin Festival. I've attended and written about this festival before but it still amazes me how the residents are infected with the spirit of Halloween. This is one of the largest pumpkin festivals in Canada!
     The 29th annual festival is filled with highlights like the Saturday noontime parade. It's not a big-city parade and therein lies the appeal: tractors, horses, walking pumpkins, scarecrows, antique fire trucks and bands. High school students on floats pay tribute to veterans of past wars. In the village, you will find a giant pyramid made of 1,500 pumpkins with spooky carved faces that light up at night. At one end of the street there's an old-fashioned carnival for the kids and those, like me, who still think they are kids. Take time to walk the streets where you will see dozens of front lawns with numerous (some elaborate and others simple) Halloween displays. On Sunday there's a soap box derby for youngsters and a classic car show for us older folks. There's a large craft show held inside the local high school gym and outside a giant flea market. High-adrenalin bands strut their stuff on an open stage throughout the three-day weekend. At the nearby arena is an interactive Kids' Zone. This is affordable family fun, where adults are free (isn't that a switch) and children pay $3.00 to use all the terrific attractions.

Waterford PumpkinFest   Antique Market   Antiques   Collectibles   Heritage Home   More Treasures   PumpkinFest Waterford

     One of the many things I like about the festival is that many churches prepare made-from-scratch meals to die for in their various halls. Along side streets you'll find restored heritage homes with wide porches and lovely manicured lawns. If these buildings could talk they would have plenty of stories to tell.
     The tiny downtown main street is Alice Street, and it's easy to navigate. But on Sunday most of the businesses, except a few, are closed even during the festival. As you walk the street, look at the architecture. Of particular note are the restored buildings that house a decorating business and the century-old Golden Pond Retirement Lodge. At the end of the street are two large antique shops found in an early 1900's building that one time housed the Dominion Telephone Manufacturing Company. Clare and Helen Hayes operate the Old Country Store. Claire told me, "We have just about everything you want from Boomer's old tin toys, fine glass,10,000 records, thousands of old books and magazines and even new and used furniture." I settled on two Life magazines from the 50's for $2.00 each. Next door is Waterford Antiques. I am floored by the immensity of the store. There is 16,000 square feet on two floors under one roof. I smiled when I read a sign, "We buy junk-We sell antiques". Antique lovers will fall in love with these stores.
     Before you leave the street, walk a few yards to the Nanticoke Creek (it runs parallel to Alice Street), sit yourself on a bench and watch the winding creek and the world go by.
     Besides the church hall dinners one of my favourite places to eat in Waterford is Yin's Restaurant. This popular eatery has been around for over 40 years and has some of the best and most reasonably priced meals on the planet.
     Waterford is a scenic and calming 90 minute drive from Niagara along Highway 3 West. GPS users can punch in 40 Main Street, Waterford.

Photo Credits
George Bailey
Norfolk Tourism

George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and
Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.
Waterford Weather

If you go
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_County,_Ontario
Norfolk Tourism: www.norfolktourism.ca or 1-800-699-9038
Pumpkinfest: www.pumpkinfest.com or 1-519-443-4944.

Travel Aid
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
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Media Guide (local newspapers with current listings): http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
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Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
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