Spring festival has a growth spurt thanks to Cabbagetown volunteers

Eric Morse –
The Forsythia Festival has had something of a gentle growth spurt this year.
Since it was founding in 1971 by the late Tony Braden, an enthusiastic Cabbagetowner—the festival has been an unassuming neighbourhood happening not widely known outside Cabbagetown.
Every spring, at about 10 a.m. on the first Sunday in May, people start showing up at the corner of Winchester and Sumach asking, “Where’s the parade?” A few minutes later, people—somehow mainly moms with kids—wearing large amounts of bright yellow show up, followed by a police car and a band. A few dignitaries assemble, a small-but- enthusiastic crowd gathers, and everyone heads off on a brief parade route ending up at Wellesley Park, where there has always been a hot dog and drinks stand provided by the local steak and chop shop, a bouncy castle and some kids’ entertainment. The Forsythia Queen is crowned (after acclamation in a secret rite hitherto known only to the moms of Cabbagetown). By mid-afternoon it’s all over.
This year on May 5, the parade, the refreshments, the bouncy castle and the entertainment are still there, but they’ve acquired a little more structure and general organizational oomph, says 2013 Festival Chair, Cabbagetowner, mom and lawyer Trisha Finkelstein. “It’s always been just a few moms in the neighbourhood putting it together pretty informally with some accounting help from the Cabbagetown Residents’
Association (CRA, formerly the Cabbagetown Preservation Association) and donations from some of the local merchants,” Finkelstein says.
“This year, the festival is actually a committee of the CRA, and our organizing committee of twelve has expanded our sponsor and donor recruitment with huge help from the Cabbagetown BIA. We have a webpage of our own on the CRA website and we’ve added more features to the event.”
New features include a beer garden at Wellesley Park with last call at 3pm, with plenty of entertainment including well-known Cabbagetown musicians Perry White’s Jazz Trio and Local 164 alt/country/folk music band. Nationally-known kids’ entertainers Jack and Cosima Grunsky will put in an appearance.
There’s a raffle with some attractive prizes offered by local sponsors, and also—for the first time—there’s an official souvenir poster on sale at the festival itself. The poster resulted from a student competition at the Bloor St. E. branch of triOS business college.
At press time the Forsythia Queen had not yet been anointed following a call for nominations through the CRA.
Finkelstein says that the Forsythia Festival has no ambitions to become another Cabbagetown Festival—“we don’t want to go from a few hundred to a few thousand people, the park can’t even hold that many”— but the organizers believe it’s a great way to build relationships between the residents of Cabbagetown and the local merchants.
For the festival schedule and parade route visit www.cabbagetowner.com.