Picnic expected to bring 10,000 to the Gorge

Art, activities and great atmosphere will flow along the scenic Saanich waterway on Canada Day

Dave Harris performs for a bustling crowd along the Gorge at last year’s Canada Day celebrations.

Dave Harris performs for a bustling crowd along the Gorge at last year’s Canada Day celebrations.

It’s the biggest annual gathering in Saanich and one of the biggest in Greater Victoria.

The Gorge Canada Day Picnic is expected to draw more than 10,000 people today.

Since the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association started the Gorge Picnic in 1999, it’s done nothing but grow, to the point where managing the event has become a six-month tenure. Saanich added its Art on the Gorge three years ago and, with a little added media, crowds at the Gorge Picnic jumped from about 7,000 people to 10,000.

What draws people is the ability to roam free along 1.5 kilometres of car-free road where there’s a pancake breakfast, a family parade, 65 artisan vendors, 25 food vendors, the Strawberry Tea, a classic car show, a Kids Zone, voyageur canoe rides, a road hockey area and three stages of entertainment, says Chris Kask, chair of the Gorge Picnic organizing committee and a GTCA treasurer.

“There’s things we look at adding to the Gorge Picnic but really, at this moment we don’t need to add anything, we are focused on the organization and process of running a smooth event.”

The recycling regime, for example, has had to have been ironed out into a really good process, because that’s what festival-goers expect in Greater Victoria.

Right from the beginning, creators Harry Lewis, Ray Farmer, Rob Wickson and Paul Gerrard, among others, had a vision for the Gorge Canada Day Picnic to use a traffic-free Gorge Road West, between Admirals and Tillicum.

“The fact you’re not confined to a closed space, and that you can wander along a gorgeous waterway, is part of the charm that brings so many people to Gorge Picnic,” Kask said.

This year’s main stage lineup includes City of Gardens Chorus, Robin Gillespie, Cookeilidh, Salsa Caliente, Terry Brennan & Roger Plant and The Bachands. There will also be a variety of performances from Daniel Frances and Friends at the Gorge on Art Stage. The Sunshine Clowns and Drum Victoria will provide entertainment and drum lessons at the Austin Family Stage.

“We have fantastic support from a solid base of volunteers, residents, the District of Saanich, vendors and our local businesses whose sponsorship has helped the event grow,” Kask says.

Festivities kick off with the pancake breakfast beginning at 8:30 a.m., with the Family Parade at 9 a.m. and opening ceremonies, including the singing of O Canada, at 10:15 a.m. on the main stage.

Because No. 11 bus can’t run along Gorge Road, BC Transit will run alternate transit, including a rerouted No. 11. The 11 will run between Tillicum Centre along Tillicum to Gorge Road at the Tillicum/Gorge Road intersection, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will not run through the Admirals/Tillicum/Gorge neigbhourhood.

BC Transit will also offer a shuttle bus between lower Tillicum Centre and the Picnic.

For a full list of the day’s events and other information, visit gorgecanadaday.ca.

Parking is extremely limited and festival goers are encouraged to take transit, walk, or ride their bike.





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