I believe the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child” and for the weekend of July 8-10 2016 the Village was Hespeler and the child was the 2016 Hespeler Reunion, an event that has been held only 7 times in the last 110 years. In 1906,1926,1947,1966,1996,2006 and the one we just completed in 2016 brought together those of us that still live in Hespeler and many hundreds, perhaps thousands from around the globe that called Hespeler home at one time or another. They came from Australia, Great Britain, France, the United States and from everywhere in Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia, and a few brave souls even dared to cross the 401 from Galt and Preston to party with us. It was a weekend of celebrating our heritage and reconnecting with our past, it allowed many to find old friends and perhaps to make new friends, heck, I even spent most of Saturday night drinking with a liberal, and to see up close what changes were going on in this little section of Cambridge. From the opening ceremonies on Friday night that included an oldtimers hockey game, figure and speed skating demonstrations and the homecoming dance to Sunday night’s closing ceremonies and an awesome fireworks display that lit up the Hespeler sky,the weekend proved to be just what this town needed and not even the downpour early Saturday evening could put a damper on the festivities.
The entire town and the businesses within were ready to celebrate, the Hespeler Tennis club provided free tennis for kids, the Fashion History museum and the Hespeler Heritage Museum gave tours of their facilities, the Bars and the Hespeler Legion all put on events to keep people busy and entertained and the Saturday street dance was a great success with many local bands such as Seven Sundays, Tracenine and Blackbridge providing the music and the crowds providing extra entertainment. Another of the traditions is the beard growing contest and once again this time around we had a great selection of beards to choose from. There was the soap box derby for kids to enjoy, food trucks and a midway in Forbes Park for everyone to enjoy. The Reunion parade was a fantastic event that in my opinion was the best parade that I have seen in many a year, and from the looks, on everyone faces, they all thought so as well.
Sunday was another great day for the reunion and it started off with an open air church service held in victoria park followed by a church-sponsored breakfast and many food trucks including the famous beaver tale truck in the park. Hespeler minor softball put on a home run hitting contest, the Cambridge Cheer Sport Sharks put on a lively demonstration and the oldtimers Softball game brought together many of Hespeler’s best players from the past including the recent Cambridge sports hall of fame inductee Dan Donahue, the boys may be a little slower but damn they can still play the game and the fans in attendance loved them for it. There were bands performing, children playing and laughing and old and new Hespelerites sitting down to a few beers talking about the town and where it has been and where it was heading. And when the Reunion executive said goodbye to the crowds and the fireworks ended it seemed for a moment that no one in the park wanted it to be over, many stayed and had that wistful look on their faces, that look that said 2026 can not come soon enough. And for that one weekend in July 2016 everything was perfect in Hespeler and “The Village had indeed raised a great child”