A Schwimmwagen was on display during the annual Volksfest in Embrun. Van Dusen photo
Tom Van Dusen
EMBRUN – The organizer of Volksfest says Sunday may have marked the last time it’s held in Embrun because of the hazard posed to exhibitors, their vehicles and visitors in Yahoo Park by dead trees.
While everyone involved loves the park west of the Embrun Community Centre because of the shade it offers and the on-site splash pad which keeps kids amused, organizer Shawn Rutters said he’s constantly concerned a heavy limb will fall from a tree causing injury or damage.
Noting that he had about 150 registrations for the 2018 outing which also welcomes other European cars, Rutters said he has raised his concern with Russell Township officials but nothing has been done to remedy the situation.
Yahoo contains a large collection of coniferous trees, scattered among which are several leafless, what appear to be dead deciduous trees that Rutters was told are ash killed by the invasive emerald borer. Rutters said he routinely picks up fallen branches in the park which, to date, haven’t caused any damage.
In recent years, there have been other irritants as well. While the township used to host Volksfest free of charge, it’s now demanding a $25 fee; and where the municipality used to cover the event under its insurance, it now requests that Volksfest purchase its own liability coverage at a cost of $300.
“It’s not the same relationship anymore,’’ Rutters observed. “We can cover the new charges with our registration fee of $5 per vehicle (admission for visitors is free)… but I’m really bothered about the trees and we’ll have to get that taken care of before we come back.’’
Volksfest has been staged in Embrun for 27 years, first on a side lot at Your Independent Grocer before it expanded, then to the Embrun Arena, and finally to Yahoo Park. After founder Bob Lyons packed it in, Rutters took over about seven years ago.
Volkswagens of every description show up, along with their automotive cousins and wannabes too. The stars of the show remain venerable Volkswagen Vans from the hippy era and, of course, the Beetle in just about every colour of the rainbow including pink. A couple of oddities this time were an amphibious wartime Schwimmwagen and a Vandetta, a Beetle extended with the help of a special kit.
The atmosphere was relaxed, with no judges and water-cooled devotees mixing freely with air-cooled advocates. The Embrun show is the largest non-judged VW show in Canada.