British bonfire bonanza to take over Orangeville

November 2, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Two local Orangeville residents have been working tirelessly over the past few months to bring a bit of old-school British tradition to town as they prepare to host the first-annual Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night Celebration.

Taking place this Saturday (Nov. 5) at the Orangeville Agricultural Event Centre, event organizers Sharon Edmonds and Elaine Capes are looking forward to launching Ontario’s only organized Bonfire Night celebration, with the duo claiming it will be a fun filled, family oriented party unlike anything this region has ever seen before.

“If you’ve never heard about Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes before, you’re in for a treat,” promised Mrs. Edmonds. “Outside of Christmas, it’s probably the most family-oriented holiday there is in the UK. It’s just a great, great night.”

The event’s history stems way back to 1605 when a group of 13 English rebels concocted a plan to blow up the British Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James I. Smuggling large amounts of gunpowder into a cellar just below the House of Lords on Nov. 5, 1605, the group left the now notorious Guy Fawkes to guard the area. However, before they were able to set the gunpowder alight, Fawkes was caught and subsequently charged with high treason.

Although he wasn’t the leader of the group, Fawkes quickly became the name synonymous with what has been called the Gunpowder Plot. He was hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the plot. On the night the Gundpower Plot was foiled – Nov. 5 – bonfires were set alight across Britain to celebrate the safety of King James. And so a tradition was born.

Fast forward more than 400 years and Edmonds said she’s hoping to see the annual fall festivity capture the imagination of local residents much in the same way it did the British public back in 1605.

“When you sit back and actually read about the history and who Guy Fawkes was and what Bonfire Night is all about, it’s really quite interesting. This time 400 plus years ago there was a small group of people that truly believed they could take out the British monarchy. Obviously it’s taken on a life of its own over the years, but millions upon millions of people celebrate this every single year in the UK. I want to try and share it with Canada. It’s transformed into a night that represents family and spending time with the people you love,” Edmonds said.

Kicking off at 4 p.m. on Saturday, the local iteration of Bonfire Night will include an hour long craft session for kids to create their own “mini Guy Fawkes” character, which they can choose to place on the bonfire or take home with them. At 5:15 p.m. those that want to place their ‘Guy’ on the Bonfire will be paraded down to the site of the fire, which will be set alight at 5:30 p.m. The fire itself is expected to be roughly ten metres in diameter. It will also feature a traditional ‘Guy’ effigy sitting atop of the wood.

From there people will be encouraged to try out the traditional British food on offer before the grand fireworks display gets underway at 7 p.m.

“For me, it’s the absolute perfect event for families to get out of the house and do something together. Give it a chance, I guarantee you’ll have a great time,” Cates told the Citizen.

While this will be the first Bonfire Night celebration open to the public, it won’t be Edmond’s first in Orangeville. Since moving to Canada seven years ago she has hosted her own Bonfire Night party on her property just outside of town every year. As word of mouth traveled, the annual party swelled to include more than 100 people in 2015. It was then that Edmond’s realized there was potential to push things one step further.

“When I first started doing this is a few family members and friends around to continue the British tradition, but it just grew and grew year after year as more and more people heard about it,” Edmonds said. “It’s right between Halloween and Christmas, families are always looking for things to do at this time of the year – it’s a cheap night out and it’s a lot of fun.”

She added, “For me now, I’m looking long-term. This isn’t just going to be a one-off, one-year thing, this Bonfire Night celebration is what I want Orangeville to be famous for. I want to get to the point where we have people traveling from all over Ontario to be here. This could be a huge attraction for Orangeville, it could put Orangeville on the map.”

The weather is expected to hold up for the big day, with forecasts predicting a mild, sunny day with temperatures floating around eight degrees. Forecasts are also calling for a clear night, making it perfect for fireworks.

“We’re so excited that the day is almost here. It’s going to be a lot of fun. The thing I really like is that we’re offering people the opportunity to start their own family tradition in coming out to celebrate Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. It’s just something different… I think people are going to really enjoy it,” Cates said.

Tickets are on sale now, priced at $8 for an adult and $3 for a child. They can be purchased ahead of time at Tickets will also be available at the gate for the increased price of $10 for an adult and $5 for a child.

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