There is no doubt the Valley is growing.
With that in mind, it only makes sense that the community's annual festival keeps up. In recent years, Valley East Days has grown from some 500 patrons to 5,000 — families, community members and everyone else looking to celebrate in their hometown has been showing their support.
From Sept. 6-9, everyone is invited to Sudbury North for four days and nights of fun at the 37th annual event. Chris Vitiello, who is helping run the festival and sponsoring it through his restaurant Cousin Vinny's, said this year's festival has something for every crowd.
“I really wanted to do more for the community,” he said.
That's why there are things just for kids, just for teens, just for adults and just for families at this year's edition of Valley East Days.
While there are events throughout the Valley, the festival is based out of the Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre. Vitiello said the move was instrumental in attracting more people to the event, as it is central to all Valley residents.
Some other Valley-area groups are hosting their own events, like the Valley Bingo appreciation breakfast on Sunday morning, the motorcycle run leaving from Neil's Independent Grocer, the King Miners competition in the Canadian Tire parking lot and the festival-ending fireworks held at the Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre.
Vitiello said multiple easy-to-access locations means more people from the Valley can celebrate their community.
“The Valley community is really close,” he said. “You can't go anywhere without running into someone you know. It has that 'small town' atmosphere. People should be proud to celebrate their community.”
The festival kicks off Sept. 6 with a comedy show by Kevin Brown from NBC's 30 Rock.
On Sept. 7, a variety of Valley-area bands play at Cousin Vinny's, and guests can take a ride on the mechanical bull in support of KICX for Kids.
Sept. 8 includes a variety of family friendly events, including hot-air balloon rides, kids inflatable play stations, a strongman competition and plenty of stage performers. The night wraps up with Hotel California, a tribute to The Eagles.
On Sept. 9, family oriented fun continues. Highlights include the King Miner competition, where teams of miners can compete for big prizes. The day wraps up with fireworks outside the Rec Centre. The show lasts “a good 15 minutes,” according to Vitiello.
Last year, some 500 kids were given free glow sticks at the event. Vitiello said looking out at the sea of lights under the firework sky was an amazing experience.
“It's just such a good feeling,” he said. “It makes you feel like you're doing something good.”
For more information, visit www.valleyeastdays.com.
Family fun at Valley Pentecostal Church
Last year, it was a coincidence that the Valley Pentecostal Church held its fun day during Valley East Days. Since it worked so well last time around, the community church decided to partner with the Valley-wide festival again.
While they do share a date, the church event isn't necessarily the same as the community event.
“We really find ourselves separate from Valley East Days,” said Steve Gudrie, lead pastor.
Everything taking place at the church is absolutely free; Gudrie wanted to be sure everyone in the community could take part. Kids are welcome to play games all afternoon, while the grown-ups enjoy a good sense of community.
Now in its fifth year, the festival is part of the church's mandate to reach beyond its congregation, creating a positive impact in the community. A highlight of the fun day includes a performance by Canadian singer and songwriter Jodi King. She takes the stage near the end of the day-long event, which runs during the afternoon.
Everyone who comes out to the event is also put in a draw for a number of door prizes.
“This year, the door prizes are off the Richter scale,” Gudrie said with a laugh.
All in all, Gudrie said the event is “just a good day.”
“Without a doubt, it gives (families) a safe place to come and do something as a family,” he said. “It allows them to have experience in their own community.”
For more information on the festival, visit www.valleypentecostal.com.