Festival Spotlight: Berwick Gala Days
As part of our festival issue, The Grapevine caught up with Berwick councillor Ty Walsh and asked him all about Berwick Gala Days. This year’s festivities will take place Aug 28-September 2.
The Grapevine (GV): When was the first Gala Days?
Ty Walsh (TW): The first Berwick Gala Days took place in 1945, making this the 74th annual year of events.
GV: How many volunteers work to put the festival together?
TW: We have a dedicated committee of 15-20 organizers who meet throughout the year and increasingly towards the date of the festival to coordinate our events. We also rely on 40+ individual community volunteers and volunteers from close to 20 service organizations and the Town of Berwick staff to run pieces of the festival. With 160-180 volunteers over 5 days, Berwick Gala Days is one of the largest volunteer commitments in the Valley.
GV: What parts of the festival would be similar to events in the early days?
TW: Berwick Gala Days began as a traditional celebration of local agriculture in and around Berwick and the surrounding communities. Events such as horse shows and pulls, the Grand Street Parades, fireworks, princess pageant, and annual car show and the road race have been long-standing events for the festival.
GV: What’s been added in recent years?
TW: The street dance, the Valley Wildcats hockey game, the marshmallow drop, the antiques and collectibles show, the scale model show, and the Berwick & District Lions concert (this year Featuring Bluesmobile!), have all been huge successes for our festival in recent years.
GV: What’s your favourite part of Gala Days?
YW: Our events on Saturday are based around kids and families. Our children’s parade starts at the town hall then marches to the fairgrounds. This year we will be working with the Hal Con Street Team to have kids be able to walk with their heroes and join them after in the park. Then we have a large selection of trucks and machinery for our touch-a-Ttruck event, where we also offer a quiet autism-friendly hour for kids to come touch, play, and learn!