When the 34th edition of Heart of the Valley Festival kicks off in Middleton July 19, there will be family fun, running, hooting and hollering, and squirt guns – and that’s just in the first event.
Organizer Krista Steele smiles at the thought of the ‘Squirt Gun Fun Run,’ the event conceived and hosted by Middleton Recreation at 7 p.m. on the Friday evening at Rotary Raceway Park. It coincides with the Heart of the Valley Barbecue at the same spot and portends a great two-day festival. Look for axe throwing, truck pulls, kettlebell tossing, a monster truck, music and food. Did we say pirates? There are pirates.
“We’re still working out logistics but we will be inviting people to BYOSG and they can be any size,” said the town’s Andy Kerr about the ‘Squirt Gun Fun Run.’ “We'll have a few basic ones available. In this run, people often run as groups (families, co-workers) so we'll invite them to soak other people/teams.”
Kerr said final details are still being ironed out, but it promises to be a wet and wild time.
While one might think it couldn’t get any better than that, the Open Strength Challenge runs from 7 to 9 p.m. and features the Kettlebell Krushers weight for height event and a caber-tossing demonstration by Guinness World Record holder Danny Frame.
Steele said the two-day event includes a ton of family fun as residents and visitors alike pay homage to the town with big heart situated in the heart of the Annapolis Valley.
Friday evening also includes speeches by Middleton Youth Ambassador contenders at 8 p.m. at the pavilion area, music by Jokers Right at the pavilion at 10 p.m., and Middleton Rec hosts the movie ‘Back to the Future’ at 9:30 p.m. at the basketball court.
“We’re trying to keep it local and bring in a lot of local groups and committees and things to help support our own area,” said Steele. “We’re trying to get a lot of the sports things back in the area as well.”
Plus, she said, the festival organizing committee is partnering with the town, something Kerr said the recreation staff is happy to do.
“With the festival's volunteers working so hard to make this year successful, it was a no-brainer for us to offer several support staff for some of the kids stations,” said Kerr, “plus we decided to move our annual Fun Run over to Rotary Park from Centennial Park to keep it all under one roof, so to speak. The Squirt Gun Fun Run will certainly be unique and fun for all ages and we hope to see record participation."
While Friday evening rocks, Saturday, July 20 is the big day for HOTVF – and it starts bright and early with a Middleton Regional High School Reunion 2020 Pancake Breakfast at the pavilion. That runs from 8 to 10 a.m.
While the schedule was still being tweaked, Saturday morning also includes an Acadian U Basketball Clinic at the basketball courts at 9 a.m., and the fast running, fast growing Annapolis County Athletics will be at the Rotary Raceway Park track for a run, jump, throw meet from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
What else to expect? Milo T Clown will be there from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kids Tent, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. a couple of giant Bounce Kingdom bouncers will be set up.
And Steele said don’t forget the food. There will be vendors set up from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., plus tables by the NSCC 50th anniversary folks, and the MRHS 2020 reunion people.
Also confirmed, starting at 11 a.m. are the Valley Crawlers and the K&J Tractor pulls.
Steele said Family Matters Resource Centre from Lawrencetown has activities planned from 12 to 5 p.m. and Annapolis 4-H will have a tug-o-war demonstration from 12 to 2 p.m.
One of the big draws at festival is the Heart of the Valley Classic Arm Wrestling Competition, and that runs from noon to 4 p.m.
From noon to 5 p.m. Cool Moves BMX will be at the all-wheel bowl. Sheriff Monster Truck is confirmed for 2 to 7 p.m.
The big food event of the day is the Firemen’s Chicken Barbecue from 4 to 6 p.m., and lurking around from 5 to 7 p.m. will be the infamous Buccaneers Pirates – so hold tight to your plate of chicken and salad.
Jamie Peppard of Fitness Experience will host a Youth Strength Challenge from 5 to 8 p.m. followed directly by the Heart of the Valley Festival Parade at 8 p.m. That starts at the arena and ends at Rotary Raceway Park.
And of course, the big finalé is the fireworks at 10 p.m.
Also note the bar is open from noon to 1 a.m.
Music throughout the two days includes Kenny Byrka, Matt Music Man (at the kids’ tent), 9 to 1 Odds, The Resonators, and Jokers Right.