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The first Environmental fair kicked off at the Brome Fair Grounds on Saturday and the weather couldn't have been better. The sunny skies and bright white clouds against the fiery treeline was the perfect setting as large crowds converged on the Environmental Fair. The Brome Fair Grounds, better known for midway rides, country music, farm animals, funnel cakes and prize winning pies was transformed into an environmentalists dream as hundreds of exhibitors displayed the latest green-technologies relating to renewable-resources and sustainable development in Quebec.
The Knowlton Duck Festival (Canard en Fete) was also winding up this weekend and the stunning weather on Saturday meant that the streets of Knowlton were packed with visitors who came to enjoy the Duck Festival. This was surely the busiest day of the two-weekend event!
The corner of Knowlton Road and Lakeside was alive with festive action as people slowly strolled to the accordian music and enjoyed a taste of wine and duck specialties and browsed for antiques. Wonderful artists were painting original canvasses in fron of the downtown gallery and wild lavender was being gifted to passers-by near the miniature train station.
It was a perfect day in Knowlton with an ambiane of sheer joy and contentment...congratulations to the organizers!
The Great Duck Race
We all expected a wet Sunday so there were no surprises when the sun decided to stay away during the day and instead sent in a round of ideal "duck weather". The fact that the Environmental fair was happening only a few kilometers away from Knowlton during our annual Duck Festival was somewhat of an eyebrow raiser: organizers of the Environmental fair must have understood that the duck festival is a Knowlton priority and if the Ecosphere event had happened any other time then our Knowlton businessess would likely have thrown more support into the ring...as it was...this weekend belonged to the ducks!
Despite the threat of rain the crowds gathered early at ColdBrook park to witness the first annual Duck Race. The volunteers and organizers of the day did a great job considering the conditions and they shoul all be applauded...people arrived just after noon for the start of the race which had been announced for 1 p.m. but was held off until 2 pm.
Crowds surrounded the park fences and filled the ColdBrook dam walkway as well as the Lakeside Bridge to get a glimpse of the race. A lone kayaker verified the situation of the dam flow eat the zero-hour and an echoeing loudspeaker announced the official start of the race!
Duck time stood still and it seemed to take a long time for the ducks that had been dumped into the Mill Pond at the start of the race to make their way over the dam...when the first duck finally plummeted over the edge a roar was heard from the folks on the bridge watching! Suddenly the ducks were coming at full speed over the falls and while some got caught in the eddies of the splashing water against the rocks...a steady yellow stream of rubber duckies began the trip down the ColdBrook.
Once the ducks cascaded over the falls people began filing towards the ColldBrook trail to follow the ducks as they made their way to the finish line at the Maple Street Bridge. Members of the Knowlton Fire Department were dispersed along the banks of the brook to dispatch radio reports to home-base...a play by play of the leading ducks!
The rain began as the ducks reach the first observation deck where a large crowd had gathered to cheer on the head duck! Kids along the bank were sure that their winning ticket was associated with the lead duck. The crowds let out a sigh of dissapointment whenever a duck got stuck in tree branch or behind a rock and cheered as two ducks battled it out in the currents for the lead!
At the finish line, which was a large orange fence typical of ice barriers, the chief "duck cather" stood by holding the official duck net to capture the winning duck as it passed through the small 12" opening gate. The finish line at the Maple STreet Bridge was packed with people who cheered as the lead duck approached the line...but...as the ducky was about to cross into the winners circle...she suddenly got stiuck in the netting and didn't finish! The crowd "Oooohed"! The second duck looked like it was going all the way and sure enough the duck went across the finish line and won some lucky soul a trip to Switzerland!
The Duck Race really brought out the kid in all of us and was a great finale to the Duck Festival!
The hardest thing about this weekend was being able to attend both the Environmental Fair and the Duck Festival. But...as is often the case in the Eastern Townships...we all had a great time and the more events that take place in Knowlton the better for all of us. For everyone involved...thank-you!!
Weather can't "Fowl" Duck Fest Week-end
Brome Lake Duck Festival