The Ferris wheel is one of the larger rides at he Old Home Week midway.
©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
At one time, the events behemoth that is P.E.I. 2014 Inc. was viewed as a threat to overshadow historic Old Home Week this year. The former can be compared to a whale and the latter to Jonah. It was seen like an unfair competition – surely the giant whale was going to swallow poor Jonah.
P.E.I. 2014 Inc. is the organization whose principal role is the planning and execution of celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. It set up the popular Celebration Zone at Confederation Landing Park with daily entertainment and other attractions. It has organized a stunning number of free concerts featuring some major entertainment stars. Almost everywhere one turns across the province, there seems to be an omnipresent sign saluting P.E.I. 2014 Inc. for an event past, present or future that it had, or has, a hand in.
Old Home Week is the provincial exhibition that has saluted the farming history and accomplishments of this agricultural province for more than a 100 years, supported by a massive harness racing component, entertainment, midway and countless other attractions crammed onto the historic fair grounds along Kensington Road at Red Shores. OHW might have felt a little threatened in the early stages, fearing that free entertainment at the Celebration Zone might pose a danger.
But OHW is too entrenched, too historic and too popular to suffer any serious threat. It adjusted its pricing structure, it has an impressive array of musical talent in its own right, and has embraced the 2014 theme in a big way — cleverly turning the tables at least 180 degrees on its not-for-profit, friendly rival.
There is a 5,000-square-foot display area in the Trade Centre at Eastlink Centre depicting a P.E.I. scene from 1864 — dominated by agriculture — such as one the Fathers of Confederation might have seen when they landed on our fair shore.
OHW need not feel it was singled out for special attention. Every fair, festival and special event faced much the same potential threat. It’s just that late August is the climax for 2014 celebrations — the anniversary month when the Fathers rowed shore to begin the talks that launched the Dominion of Canada, attend the dinners and parties, and extend the promise of more meetings to iron out the final details for the creation of a new nation.
So when Old Home Week 2014 kicks off today, it will dominate the attention of Islanders and visitors alike for the next 10 days, while P.E.I. 2014 Inc. will take an unaccustomed back seat.
Visitor vortex strikes P.E.I.
It’s not a warning we usually see or hear on P.E.I. — get to the airport 90 minutes before your scheduled flight or you may need to scramble for another way to reach your destination. There is a high seat demand with larger planes arriving for the rest of this month and continuing into September. That means more people, longer lineups, more luggage for screening, and more time needed for security, baggage handlers and counter staff to do their jobs.
This is the highlight period for our sesquicentennial year. Old Home Week, the Fathers of Confederation re-enactment ceremonies, the Shania Twain concert, the Canadian premiers and territorial leaders meetings later this month, golfers in a frenzy, beachgoers swarming — all coming together to create a veritable visitor vortex centered over P.E.I. for the next month or so. We have a small airport so everyone will have to follow the rules, leave additional time to come and go, and everyone will be able to enjoy this moment in history.