By Nicole Crescenzi
Black Press Media contributor
Get ready for fair rides, food and fun: The Oak Bay Tea Party is back.
After a two-year hiatus, the festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a bang – literally. Expect fireworks, as well as a few extra flowers and tie-dye T-shirts to go along with its ‘60s theme.
In 2020 Sandy Germain, the head organizer whose been involved for 25 years, felt gobsmacked after the Oak Bay Tea Party had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
“We were like, ‘how can we cancel, this has never happened,’” she said. “Now that we’re back it’s almost like I’m starting right from scratch.”
Many vendors closed, retired or moved following COVID, Germain said, so in order to run the event she’s had to make new connections – and all on a much shorter timeline than usual.
Thanks to an exceptional board of directors and group of volunteers, however, everything is on schedule, with the tea party running from June 3-5 at Willows Beach.
Old favourites returning to the scene include a parade to kick things off on Saturday, June 4, followed by a pancake breakfast hosted by the Esquimalt Lions Club. Fair rides like the Zipper and the ferris wheel will be hosted by Shooting Star Amusements, and crowd favourites like the baron of beef, lady nail drive, teacup race, bathtub race, and air show are also on the roster. Additionally, young children can play games and build birdhouses on the beach at the Castle Kids Corral.
New to the show is an exceptional 50/50 draw, where the winner has the potential of walking away with up to $50,000 if all the tickets sell. Tickets are one for $10, three for $25 and 10 for $50 and can be purchased online at oakbayteaparty.rafflenexus.com.
Also new to the team is a local sponsor, Urban Grocer, which will take over the tea tent from previous sponsor, Tetley.
“Community is at the heart of our business, and the past two years have proven just how important it is for us to support our community members,” said Garth Green, manager of Urban Grocer in an emailed statement. “Urban Grocer is thrilled to be joining other local businesses with the sponsorship of the Oak Bay Tea Party; a steadfast signal of summer that has brought joy and fond memories to so many friends and family in our community for the past 60 years.”
Other community sponsors include Capital Bikes – which will ensure a secured bike parking facility – the Oak Bay Kiwanis Club, Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society, St. John’s Ambulance and more.
“It wasn’t the break you were expecting,” Germain said. “It was surreal when we cancelled the first time, and now it’s surreal that we’re doing it again.”
For all the details and a full schedule of events, visit oakbayteaparty.com.
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