Celebrate Barrie, the city’s annual community festival, returns to its regular time slot this year. The event, on June 2, kicks off the summer festival season.

“We’re really excited because this the first major event taking place there since the refresh – new parking layout, parkland – more space to spread out,” said Arin Donnelly, City of Barrie community events coordinator. “One thing that’s different is we’re working on a vendor marketplace: small businesses, a variety of merchandise and services. We tried it for the first time last year (at Illuminate Barrie) and it was very successful so we are carrying on.”

Celebrate Barrie will be partnering this year with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre Pow Wow. It will provide more to see and do on the same weekend. There is an aboriginal component to the festival already, in the Heritage Village, where demonstrations, including storytelling, drumming, finger-weaving and the like take place but both events run at separate locations and for a different duration. The Pow Wow runs both June 2 and 3 at Red Storey Field, off Eccles St., whereas Celebrate Barrie runs along Barrie’s waterfront.

Highlights of the festival include Heritage Village, live music, lots of family fun and a variety of community groups who provide hands-on activities. Some are returning groups, back with a different program. There are also lots of new groups too.

“It’s a good mix,” said Donnelly. “There’s always something new and different for people to check out when they come down. We’re doing a lot of awesome interactive family programing.”

It ranges from a rock climbing wall to an outdoor film, geared this year, to a slightly older audience. Kids, aged six to 12, are invited to try out skateboards and scooters. Visit Science North, check out the ‘Sciensational Sssnakes’ and the wildlife or the Barrie Fire & Emergency Service’s display of vehicles, equipment, special activities, and safety information. There is even a mini combat challenge.

Live entertainment showcases local talent and, depending on the submissions, it can range from theatre groups to dance schools, magic acts and music, including bands and singer-songwriters.

“It’s always really cool,” Donnelly added. “When we get all the submissions, (and) we’ve had a really great response, we narrow it down. Some acts require more time which will dictate how much we can fit in one day. A band has more set up time and a longer performance, a dance group or a young artist might be a shorter amount of time.

Celebrate Barrie runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Centennial Park on June 2. Some events, such as the Starlight Cinema, run into the evening. Visit barrie.ca/Culture/Festivals for a complete lineup.

Photo: one of the most popular events at Celebrate Barrie is the Heritage Village complete with cannon firings, musket firing and drills, blacksmithing, displays and demonstrations and more.

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