The Cactus Festival in Dundas, Ontario is an annual tradition for myself and my friends, and this year was Justin’s first time attending the festival. I grew up in Dundas and many of my friends still live in the area. I always look forward to the Cactus Festival. Maybe it’s a healthy dose of nostalgia for me since I went there every year with my friends growing up, but we still try to go every year so it won’t be something we ever outgrow. Regardless, there’s something fun for everyone in downtown Dundas!
This year, Justin and I went to Cactus Festival with Shannon (same friend from the Put-in-Bay trip from this summer), as well as a longtime friend, Chris, plus his girlfriend whose name is also Lauren. The annual event occurs every third weekend in August from the Friday evening, right through the entire weekend. There is also a parade that is held on the Thursday evening.
Why is it called Cactus Festival, you might wonder? Well, Dundas used to be the home of an internationally renowned cactus grower called Ben Veldhuis Cactus Greenhouses. In fact, while Dundas is known as a lovely small valley town surrounded by the escarpment, it also became known as the cactus capital of Canada. When this community festival and unofficial town homecoming began, it was only fitting that its name paid tribute to the thorny desert plant!
Alright, so we arrived in the early evening to Shannon’s house and thankfully, we were able to leave our car at her house and walk downtown. As for everyone else, you can either take public transit in, or park your car on any side streets other than the main road – King Street is completely closed down to traffic for the festival. As we approached King Street, all we could see were tons of people walking around and vendor tents set up along the road. There were stages set up where bands and musical acts played. All of the stores stayed open late and many of them had sidewalk sales. There were crafts people selling their wares, bouncy castles for the kids, and tons of food trucks with something for every discerning taste. The Lion’s Club had a charity gambling table with the game “Crown & Anchor” where we put down our quarters and hoped for a win! In the end, we lost all of our change, but it went to a good cause (the local food bank).
Besides all of the shopping, eating, music listening, and wandering around, one of the main attractions was the midway. The largest parking lot beside King Street (where the Dundas Farmer’s Market is also held on Thursday afternoons) was closed off and the midway was running in full force. There were all of the trappings of a typical midway – carnival rides, games, and stands with cotton candy. We all bought a fistful of tickets and went on a bunch of rides!
The first ride we went on was the Ferris wheel. It always makes me giggle to think about this ride because Justin is afraid of heights and I always drag him on it! But, he knows how much I enjoy the ride so he is always willing to suffer it out for my sake. I went into one bucket with Shannon and Justin, while Chris and Lauren rode in another as all five of us couldn’t ride together. It was great to have a view of the whole midway from up high, and the warm summer breeze was quite nice that night.
There were a couple of rides that Justin and I opted out of this time around. One was the Starship 3000 (Gravitron) and another was a high, fast spinning ride that made me a little bit queasy just looking at it. Chris and his girlfriend went on both of those ones and enjoyed it, while Justin and I shared some cotton candy with Shannon back on solid ground.
One that we did ride were the teacups. And we were the only ones on this ride. For some reason, I get a huge kick out of the really fast-spinning rides that twirl around super fast. This was a ride that you partially controlled by rotating the wheel in the center to make it spin faster. As the ride began, Justin and I started cranking this wheel around as fast as we could. Soon enough, the teacup seemed like it was spinning out of control and the whole world was a dizzy blur! When this happened, I just started laughing uncontrollably from the start until the end of the ride. Once the ride was over, we both stumbled off and barely made it to the gate without falling over. I’m glad that we both can handle these kinds of rides without puking!
The last ride we went on was Avalanche as Chris really wanted us to go on another one together. The four of us (Justin, me, Chris, and Lauren) sat beside one another while Shannon cautiously decided to sit this one out. This ride took us around in a circle while we faced forward – up, around, and back down again. It’s difficult to describe, but this one seemed to affect our stomachs way more than any other ride! When the ride slowed down and it seemed to be over, for some reason it picked up again and started going in the opposite direction! When it was finally over, it seemed to turn everyone’s stomachs around a little bit, so we decided that our time at the midway was over for this year. That ride looked pretty tame and unassuming, but be forewarned – those who are prone to getting sick need not apply!
And so this year’s Cactus Festival was another resounding success, and I’m sure we’ll be back again next year for my favorite street festival! Here is a video from the midway: