---Festival-goers flock to Old Aylmer all weekend
On August 14-15, thousands of people from across the city and beyond gathered on rue Principale to enjoy all sorts of family-friendly activities, delicious food, and live entertainment at the seventh annual Old Aylmer Festival. Organized by the Aylmer Association of Professionals, Industrials, and Merchants (APICA), and supported by the city of Gatineau, the festival was all about supporting the local economy, benefitting small businesses and artists, and highlighting Old Aylmer charm, heritage and beauty.
With rue Principale blocked off from road traffic between rue Jubilee and rue Parker for the weekend, crowds of pedestrians and passersby on bicycles strolled along from one kiosk, shop and entertainment station to the next to take full advantage of everything the festival had to offer. The event extended from the Galeries Aylmer down to the Marina. An Artisan Market between Espace 33 Art Gallery and Beurre Salé bookended the festival, with a large stage at Galeries Aylmer offering music well into the evening.
Offering countless options for delicious food and refreshments, including a farmers’ market circuit at the Commemorative Park, numerous kiosks showcasing local artists, merchants, and institutions, various activities for kids such as bouncy castles and an arts and crafts table, the festival provided enough enjoyment to satisfy all festival goers.
There were a variety of shows in different locations for people to take in, including the internationally acclaimed acrobat and public amuser Rockabilly Joe displaying his circus-inspired superhuman feats, and a series of off-the-wall trampoline trickery courtesy of Cirque du Soleil acrobats, as well as a high-flying BMX spectacle on large ramps by the Craz-E-Crew travelling troupe at the Old Aylmer Cultural Centre’s rear parking lot. Also showing a wide variety of live music performances throughout the festival at Bistro Mexicana, Vitalia, and other eateries, Saturday evening notably saw local Indie folk band Okies rock the stage at 5e Baron with a vibrant performance.
APICA’s Director General Nathalie Rodrigue told the Aylmer Bulletin that rue Principale was closed down for the first time in the festival’s history in an effort to accommodate more people, liven commercial arteries, and include more diverse programming, adding that the event was a resounding success.
Stating that local business people had requested for a number of years that a portion of rue Principale be closed during the festival, Rodrigue said she felt thrilled to see so many families out and enjoying the atmosphere. She estimated that more than 10,000 people frequented the festival over its two days. “I’d say it was the most highly attended festival we’ve had,” Rodrigue said, highlighting the support of the 25 volunteers who helped make the event possible.
Gathering people together for a large-scale event for the first time in more than a year, after last year’s edition got cancelled due to Covid-19, Rodrigue said the festival was a great way to give the community something to cheer about after a not-so-cheery 18 months. “It felt like we got a chance to see what Aylmer is all about again, the Aylmer that we know,” Rodrigue said, stating that the festival was an important boost for Old Aylmer’s businesses. “It was lively. People were happy. It felt good.”
Rodrigue explained that the city-subsidized costs attributed to closing part of rue Principale for the weekend, as a strategy to benefit local businesses by making room for animation, kiosks, and pedestrians. She hopes that next year’s festival receives the same treatment. “We’re already excited for the 2022 edition,” she said.