Mudcat Fest started as celebration of athleticism

The week of the Dunnville Mudcat Festival, Wednesday, June 8 to Sunday, June 12,  2011 is in full swing.

Chamber of Commerce and staff continue to go over the top with bigger and better ideas providing fun and fellowship for the citizenship of our town, our summer visitors, and their loved ones in this 37th unforgettable summer extravaganza.

The summer of 1975 was to follow an exciting and action-packed winter of the Dunnville Terriers’ first year in the Ontario Jr. ‘C’ Hockey League.  The Dunnville Juniors had reached the Ontario Provincial semi-finals, falling just short of the provincial championship in their first year of entry.

It was an amazing year of rugged fast-paced, tension filled and hard-hitting, rock-em’ sock-em’ hockey.  The team had a very successful first year, besting the teams from the Niagara District and taking the rest of the Junior  ‘C’ teams of the Ontario league one by one to the semi-finals against Lindsay.  Being one rung short was hard to take, but sometimes adversity is a necessary experience for success.

The closeness and brotherly-like chemistry of this skilful and talented team of players ranging from 14 to 20 years of age would prove to be the beginning of a quarter century of superb entertaining hockey to be witnessed by the hockey fans of Dunnville and the County of Haldimand.

The players, coaches, managers and executive members were full of optimism.

They envisioned this team, with a few additions and lessons learned in defeat, if kept intact, could reach the top of the heap in the year ahead.  The goal as team managers was to keep this group together as a team through the summer in some capacity building on the teamwork and chemistry.

The skill level and team character was there, a tribute to the leadership and coaching of our Dunnville Minor Hockey system.

The plan to keep the team together worked and we reached the top of the Ontario Jr. ‘C’ heap in 1975-76 season.

The plan also provided the birth of the Mudcat Festival we cherish so much today.

It was over a coffee in Jacob’s Restaurant that the brainstorming took place.  Dave Dunham, Wes Scott and myself were likeminded when in came to sports promotion for the youth of Dunnville.  We wanted something to carry on the joys of seeing the Dunnville Memorial Arena filled to the brim with people and enthusiasm, as it was throughout the winter months.   We had the manpower in our Junior team, their devoted executive members, and several family members who would be ready to help put on a sports entertainment package that would do Dunnville proud.

‘CASID’ (Canadian Amateur Sports in Dunnville) was the result of several sessions of bantering thoughts over coffee at Jacob’s.  The ‘CASID’ weekend would consist of teams and individuals taking part in a variety of sporting activities.

  1. A four-team fastball tournament
  2. Decorated bed racing teams
  3. The Giant Grand River Canoe racing teams
  4. Tandem log sawing teams
  5. Canoe garbage bag boxing teams
  6. Grease pole climb
  7. Dunk a doll toss
    8.  Strong man contest

The Junior players assisted in putting together teams for the events.  Executive members and several family members hosted a day-long pig roast and the Hammond Brothers and Bill Butler provided the music for the finale evening and late night dance and hootennany.  It was a wild and fun-filled weekend to remember.

The town was full of life and memories were made to last.  We were very pleased with the outcome of the weekend and even more pleased when the Kinsmen Club took an interest in continuing and taking over the extensive workload for the years ahead.  The Kinsmen changed the name to the Mudcat Festival, added parades and activities and 37 years later it continues to be our renown summertime tourist attraction.  The responsibility for the festival has changed hands several times and gets bigger and better as new ideas emerge with each new leadership group.

Chamber of Commerce’s Carolyn Chymko has been doing a splendid job for the chamber in keeping Dunnville on the tourist map of Ontario.  Carolyn’s husband, Gord, was one of the first Dunnville Terriers and he took part in the first ‘CASID’ weekend and here he is today playing a major partner role in the Dunnville Mudcat Festival of 2011, some 37 festivals later.

The Festival has grown to be the centrepiece of the year for Dunnville thanks to those who have continued the brainstorming year after year.

Thanks for the memories.

just an ole rightwinger

By David Green, Green Side Up
The Sachem

2 thoughts on “Mudcat Fest started as celebration of athleticism

  • December 31, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Dave Green’s claim ois completely false story is absolutely false. It was the brainchild of Kin Rob Gerrie

  • December 31, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Dave Green’s claim of originating the Mudcat Festival is untrue. It was the brainchild of Kinsman member Rob Gerrie