Hamlet with a Heart!

I grew up just outside of a small village...or hamlet...called Belmore, Ontario.
At the ripe age of 3, I took my first unsure steps on the ice surface at the arena that would turn into my second home throughout my public school and highschool days.

I write a lot about how much I love small towns and I can tell you with 100% honesty, I would not be the woman I am today if it wasn't for this hamlet and the community that surrounds it.

From the hours spent on that ice surface trying to perfect an axel or double loop...to the time spent at my best friend's house by the campfire or in the horse barn....words can't truly express how lucky I feel to have been brought up in a community that relies solely on volunteers and what that sense of camaraderie and giving back has taught me and brought to my life.

This time of year means Maple Syrup Festival in Belmore and this was it's 46th year!

This entire 2 day event is run completely by volunteers....everything from the steering committee, to the people mixing batter in the kitchen, flipping sausages, serving tables, parking cars...the list goes on and on...but every single person is their, giving of their own time to support this  wonderful community and event.

 How many events can truly say this nowadays? It really is something to be experienced and to see the same people (and new faces) come out year after year, makes me smile but also makes me feel very proud and happy to be a part of it.

Here's a sense of the grocery list of some of the basics needed for the Festival....The maple syrup, sausages, milk etc are all sourced locally, from local farmers and butchers...That's another great part of growing up here....fresh, local produce directly from our neighbours and friends!

This is a picture of the arena floor...full of people who come from all across southern Ontario to enjoy a feast of fluffy pancakes, fresh maple syrup, and amazing sausage! Not only is the food fantastic, but there are also wonderful vendors (they fill an entire curling club and auditorium) with everything from quilts to pottery, jewellery, word working, local meats/cheeses etc etc...

The thing that I always look forward the most to on days like today is seeing all the of familiar, smiling faces of neighbours, friends, old skating comrades and being able to get 'caught up' just like we saw each other yesterday! You can't take more then 10 steps and hear a friendly, "Hello", "How are you?", "I just saw your Dad"...it goes on and on.

This year, we were the morning crew....I helped on the arena floor serving and clearing tables, my Dad was on sausage duty and my Mom was in the kitchen mixing batter....and of course, we aren't the only family there. There are some families that had 4 generations there either enjoying a yummy meal or working to help ensure a successful event. Again, words can't express how amazing it is to look around and see my friends with their grandparent's, their parents and their little ones, all sitting down to enjoy a meal together in the community we all grew up in.

I will never be able to express in words how grateful I am to this community and all the giving, caring and thoughtful people who I am lucky enough to call neighbours and friends. Speaking of friends and neighbours, the photo below is of a family friend/neighbour Bob, my Dad and our next door neighbour, 'Uncle Dave', hard at work, serving up scrumptious sausages.

Keep your calendars free in 2014, for the second weekend in April. Come on out to Belmore and enjoy some amazing food, small town hospitality and say "Hi"...I'll be there!