With the Summer in the Park Festival surging past the break-even point of 6,000 wristbands sold, there seems to be more optimism surrounding the 2016 edition.
The free portion of the annual festival was well-attended at various venues along North Bay's waterfront and downtown core. The primary reason for this year's success being the one thing that organizers can never control: the gorgeous weather.
According to sources, as of Saturday afternoon, wristband sales were eclipsing the 7,500 mark, with hopes for a good walk-up crowd for Saturday night's performances, including Jamie Gabbani, Cory Marquardt, Kiefer Sutherland and headliner Tim Hicks.
This is a local festival that consistently offers something for everyone as far as the daytime activities go. Although there has been some innovation over the years, the traditional fare includes the Midway, museum tours at Discovery North Bay, as well as vendors and a few inflatable play areas on the grassy knoll nearest the train tracks.
Steve Kemp, busy selling Hudson's Bay products outside of the museum, said "The weather certainly helps. Get some tunes going, it's a festival vibe. We've had a few people from out-of-town stop by."
The Farmers' Market set up shop in the parking lot nearest the Heritage Railway & Carousel and did a brisk business in their temporary location.
Where much of the excitement was found was along Main Street East, at the Canor Molson Sand Centre, and at Amelia Park.
On a cordoned-off Main Street East, the Civic Weekend Free-4-All provided exciting Rage in a Cage dodgeball action, Mayhem on Main BMX and Dirt Jump Riders, and live entertainment. A new addition to the festivities was the mobile Escape Room exhibit.
Jody Lafleur of Sturgeon Falls competed in the BMX event. "I really enjoy biking, I've been coming to this competition for two years. For us, it's a contest between the riders, but it's also a show for everybody watching."
At the Canor Molson Sand Centre, the OVA Elite Grand Slam drew cheering crowds. North Bay's Tim Ryan is in competition and via Facebook reminded fans that "admission is free for all games."
At Amelia Park, Howbasir Ramsoondar declared that it was a perfect day for cricket. "We are holding the Northern Region Cricket Tournament. With teams coming from Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Timmins. We have a local team in North Bay, with 25 regular players, with nationalities ranging from Asian to the West Indies, from the UK, South Africa, and Australia."
Asked if the conditions were optimal to play cricket in, Ramsoondar said "This is excellent cricket weather. The sun, because cricket is played on dry ground, makes the weather very conducive to play cricket."