By Jerelyn Craden
Like a phoenix, the tiny hamlet of Irondale has risen from the ashes more than once throughout its history, and on Saturday, Sept. 24, it will rise again after a forced hiatus due to COVID, with the Irondale Family Harvest Festival (IFHF) located on the grounds of Irondale’s historic 120-year-old church.
Carol Simmons, President, Bark Lake Cultural Developments under whose auspices the festival was created, said, “We are excited to be able to offer this event again. It will be a great day to visit the various local vendors, enjoy BBQ, and tour the historic church building with displays.”
Linda Cotes, festival coordinator added, “Admission is free and the vendors come in free. We hope to make people who stop by aware of what is in our community, including all of our great trades people.”
Since its inception in 1970, the IFHF now has six vendors and ten dedicated volunteers, ready to welcome locals, cottagers and visitors to Irondale’s celebration of fall, located just south of Highway 503, 14 km from Kinmount and a hop and a skip from Gooderham.
The festival, which runs from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM takes place mostly outside with a couple of local vendors inside the church, along with displays that give onlookers a window into Irondale’s colourful, challenging history.
“We have a wonderful local quilter,” Cotes said, “and this year we have a new very talented artist whose drawings will be for sale. We will also have local garlic for sale and maple syrup.”
The Irondale church will have their own items for sale which include: cups, t-shirts, and calendars with Irondale images and logos printed on them. “We also make our own jams and preserves,” Cotes said.
She was quite enthusiastic about the church’s book nook. “All of the books that we get are donated by the community, so we will have a table filled with books, DVDs, and VCR tapes.” In addition to the items at the festival, the book nook, which is sheltered outside of the church, is open 24/7 from early spring until after Thanksgiving.
“We also have a barbeque tent and will be selling hotdogs, hamburgers, and corn on the cob,” Cotes said, “We’ll have a few games for kids to play and photo-op cut-outs they can have fun sticking their head through.”
The festival will also be offering local Irondale baked goods.
Irondale’s history – colourful and challenging
Since 2008 Irondale has been collecting stories, photos and artifacts, which will be displayed at the festival on September 24th.
Irondale got its start in 1870 after large deposits of iron were discovered on several settlers’ lots. In a relatively short period of time, it became a formidable mining town with three hotels, boarding houses, miners’ cottages, two stores, a barrel factory, and a railroad.
Then, the mine closed in 1900, and with it, so did mostly everything else.
Today, Irondale is a tightly knit cottage community with a heart the size of Saskatchewan and a fall festival that you won’t want to miss.
For more information visit: https://www.irondaleontario.ca/articles/harvest-family-festival For vendor information: 705-457-8438 or historical@IrondaleOntario.ca