By: Mike Anderson
The Painted Perch Festival, which began as a novel idea eight years ago, is now the highlight of the summer for Jackson’s Point.
“It’s the best festival that we throw in the Point,” says Steve Jacobson, chair of the Jackson’s Point BIA. “We do it on the same weekend as the Sutton Fair because we can capitalize on the people visiting the fair.”
In 2011, Mr. Jacobson was looking for a special event for the newly-formed BIA that would draw tourists and promote local businesses at Jackson’s Point.
After visiting Muskoka, where they have a fondest for painting chairs, and later Orillia, where they like to paint guitars instead of chairs, Mr. Jacobson had a eureka moment.
Why not Perch? After all, Lake Simcoe is the Perch capital of Canada. And so, the Painted Perch Festival was born.
“It’s been growing every year,” says Mr. Jacobson. “This year, we have a record number of entries, and a record number of vendors.”
According to Mr. Jacobson, the festival is also drawing plenty of tourist dollars to the Point.
“Last year 34 per cent of the people that voted were from outside of Georgina, and the previous year it was only six per cent,” says Mr. Jacobson. “That’s our mandate — to bring people here to visit our businesses and spend their money.”
While professional artists can submit a painted Perch – actually a plywood cutout, not a real Jumbo — most of the painters are of the budding variety, which adds to the fun and frivolity of the event.
“In the past, we’ve had professional artists do fish for us that we would auction off. But the local guys just blew them out of the water, so we stopped doing it,” says Mr. Jacobson.
Perch artists can submit their work in several categories, including three different age categories for kids, adult, adult 3D, best business fish, and best council fish.
Festival-goers were encouraged to vote for their favourite fish via secret ballot, with the results announced later in the afternoon.
A total of $2500 in prizes were up for grabs — a record amount, according to Mr. Jacobson.
The best council fish category added excitement to the event, as Councillor Dave Neeson was bound and determined to unseat last year’s winner Councillor Frank Sebo. But unlike actual politics, this was no popularity contest — each Perch had to stand on its own merits.
“The idea is there’s no ID on it, so you don’t know whose fish it is,” says Mr. Jacobson. “Last year, Mr. Sebo walked away with it. We’ll see. You know, it’s just fun.”
In the end, Mr. Neeson was triumphant — earning him “top dog,” or more accurately “top fish” honours and bragging rights for at least a year.
In the interest of full disclosure, The Post’s entry failed to win, place or show — succumbing to a marvellous effort by The Briars in the best business fish category.
Here are a few photos from the event, to see more go to the Painted Perch Festival Facebook page.