BY DUCK PATERSON
Ladysmith Days will take up most of the August long weekend, with family fun next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4-6.
It’s been quite a few years since Ladysmith Days has been almost the full long weekend, and according to Al Moore, the volunteer chairperson, “we really want to put family, fun and free back in Ladysmith’s summer festival.”
The festival kicks off at Coronation Mall with events sponsored by Save-On-Foods and Spyder Graphics on Aug. 4. Dave Key, one of the volunteers, is organizing events in the mall’s upper parking lot, with sidewalk sales and zucchini races starting at 3 p.m.
“These races are open to all ages and are a fun kickoff for us,” he said.
There will be food trucks there and popcorn and cotton candy. A mini car show starts at 4 p.m. and musical entertainment is set for 6:30 p.m. featuring country rock, roots and blues from the Woodley Range Band.
The morning of Aug. 5, families can take part in the annual bullhead fishing derby, being held at the Ladysmith Maritime Society dock from 7-9 a.m. It’s requested that all all children be escorted by an adult while on the dock.
Saturday also sees the comeback of the popular soapbox derby in downtown. Sponsored by the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association and the local Kinsmen Club, the fast-paced event will start with registration at 10 a.m. on First Avenue. Organizers have a specific lineup of vehicles for youngsters to use and all interested participants are encouraged to visit www.ladysmithkinsmen.ca/events/soap-box-derby for more information.
“We wanted to keep it fun and safe, so the club has purchased 17 kits that are all the same so it makes the racing platform somewhat fairer,” said Jason Kelland, event organizer with the Kinsmen.
The racing will wrap up around 1 p.m. with the final races being specially built soapboxes run by experienced drivers, “so that should add even more excitement.”
Children between 6 and 12 years old can take part and there is no entry fee. Families are asked to bring their own helmet, but there will be some available to borrow that day.
Transfer Beach Park will also be humming with activity on Saturday, with vendors and food concessions at the park all day, local chainsaw carvers working on creations starting at 10 a.m., and a children’s craft table set up from noon-4 p.m. Bethel Church will put on the ‘old time games’ in the park beginning at noon, bringing back the traditional three-legged race, the sack race and other favourites.
The Ladysmith Expo is making a return this year, featuring a whole pile of local organizations that will have information kiosks set up so that community members can ask questions about what the various groups do in the area. The expo runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park.
The Home Hardware nail-driving contest starts at 1 p.m. and will feature some heavy-pounding competitors. More zucchini racing begins at 2 p.m. at the amphitheatre, followed by the funny and popular greasy pole climb at 3 p.m., sponsored by Bosley’s. Also at 3 p.m. is the Country Grocer watermelon-eating contest.
A Vancouver Island Pro Wrestling card starts at 6:30 p.m. at the amphitheatre.
“VIPW has matches all over the Island and we’re excited to be able to feature it here this year and we believe it will be hugely popular,” Moore said.
Transfer Beach Park will again be the location for all events on Aug. 6.
“We urge spectators to come early and plan for an entire day of family fun and so much stuff, everyone can participate,” said Moore.
Coastal Trucking will be hosting the climbing wall from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and the always popular Kids Fun Zone, featuring an array of bouncy castles, face painting and games, all sponsored by the Ladysmith and District Credit Union, will go from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Plants and crafts tables will return, set up from noon-4 p.m.
“It’s great for kids of all ages to learn about plants, growing and keeping them healthy and they love it,” Moore said.
Children’s entertainer Ian Johnstone will be playing at the park with sets at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The celebrations committee has lined up several concerts, starting at 2 p.m. will be a local group called Ash and Peace, Love and Joy. Beginning at 4 p.m. will be another set by the Woodley Range Band and they will be followed at 5 p.m. by Just An Idea. The Doctors of Rock N’ Roll will take the stage at 6 p.m. They will play until 7:30 p.m. when the Ladysmith Days committee will present the Citizen of the Year Award, presented to someone who they feel has contributed to the betterment of our community.
Sunset Strip will entertain on the main amphitheatre stage starting at 8 p.m., playing music from the ’80s with the hair, glitter, moaning guitars and all the rest that will get everyone up and jumping.
The town’s summer festival will close off about 10 p.m. with the much-anticipated fireworks display in Ladysmith Harbour, sponsored by the Ladysmith and District Credit Union and set off from a Saltair Marine Services barge.
“The display is the type that folks will talk about for days,” said Moore.Follow @nanaimobulletin