News Articles

Barrie’s second annual Dutch festival again attracts full house

WWII resistance display popular

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BARRIE, Ontario – Rain clouds failed to dampen enthusiasm for the Second Annual Dutch Festival at Barrie’s Dunlop Arena recently (July 2007). “Echt Hollandse weer” (real Dutch weather) added to the cozy atmosphere inside the building where about 1300 people celebrated Dutch culture to the sound of London’s Tomato Soup band, the smell of Dutch delicacies, including poffertjes by the Alberts and group games such as Dutch shuffle board. At a display, the festival whetted the appetite for a speedy return of Sint Nicolaas and invoked the memories of wartime resistance at another.

This year’s festival saw a return of the very popular oom pa pa band, Tomato Soup, always very much a crowd pleaser. Other entertainment included Noord Brabant, the Netherlands pop musician Marie Christien, keyboard virtuoso Ted Lucas, and accordionist Larry van Lieshout. Dutch-Canadian heritage promoter Henk de Graauw brought along his street organ, raising the typical Dutch festival atmosphere to new heights.

There were many things to do at the festival. Young and old tried their hand at Dutch-style shuffleboard (there were a number of sjoelbakken to cut waiting time for a turn), many had their pictures taken in a Dutch costume, and took in various display booths. SinterKlaas and Zwarte Piet put in an unexpected appearance, albeit in mannequin still-life, and a history of Dutch Christmas traditions was available. In another exhibit, memorabilia from the Nederlandse Ondergrondse (wartime overt Dutch resistance) brought out treasured stories about courageous family members from interested onlookers. Much of the memorabilia was donated by the Verzets Museum (Resistance Museum) in Noord Brabant, Holland. Canadian Marine Reservist Lft. D. Alberts, who is himself of Dutch extraction, hosted the booth.

Wooden shoemaker Gerald Pebesma’s booth was also a popular place to visit. His booth was featured in newspaper and television stories about the Festival.

Various vendors sold Dutch street and snack foods, including croquettes, frikadellan, zoute herring, Holland’s Famous Poffertjes House, and other Dutch products. Music and film CDs, flowers, and various Dutch goods were sold. An imported, made-in-Holland sailboat was displayed by Quiet Waters Sailboats, a firm located in Waubaushene.

Part of the day’s proceeds was designated for the Netherlands Bazaar, a charitable organization that provides assistance to needy families of Dutch descent. The Bazaar manned a booth displaying handcrafts and Delft blue souvenirs, inviting passers-by for the September 29, 2007, bi-annual event at Thornhill. Local Dutch store Continental Specialties operated a festival “winkel” (store), with proprietor Pam Field offering countless “necessities” for the Dutch household.

Chairman of the Barrie Dutch Festival Organizing Committee, Jeff van Niekerk, was elated with this year’s event. “The Festival is still very new, only in its second year, and has evolved a great deal in a very short time.” His crew of over forty volunteers, all sporting bright orange shirts, assured a well-organized and fun filled Dutch heritage day.

Organizers, with the lead sponsorship of Continental Imports, a distributor of Dutch products to Dutch stores, are already planning their 2008 Festival.

- Feature based on file by Magda Albert von Kulmiz