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Brant Waterways hosts annual spring fundraiser

Local NewsBrant Waterways hosts annual spring fundraiser

Over 170 people attended the Brant Waterways Foundation’s annual spring fundraising gala at the Paris Wincey Mills Market and Paris Beer Company on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

Throughout the all-inclusive event, guests got to sample several dishes from various vendors around the market including fresh oysters, crispy falafels, a rich and creamy mushroom risotto, focaccia bites, slow-roasted pork brioche sliders, oven baked pizza and more. As well, this year’s ticket also featured seasonal beer tastings from Paris Beer and Co., and cocktails from both Manns Distillery and Vodka Friday.

In between snacking and mingling, many attendees took the opportunity to enter to win one or more of the 40-plus raffle items, 45-plus silent auction items, a door prize, and a round-trip for two to any regularly scheduled WestJet destination.

Christine Fournier, Board Coordinator for Brant Waterways, and Lisa Rafferty, a Director for Brant Waterways, sell tickets for the “River and Trails” game during the Forks on the Grand fundraising gala on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

At 8:00 p.m., a large group of guests also participated in the annual River and Trails (heads and tails) game for a chance to win a basket of wine and spirits. The last contestants standing ultimately decided to split the prize three ways.

Marie Fanjoy, Chair of the gala committee, said that the yearly event ultimately helps the Brant Waterways Foundation to fundraise for various projects, recreational opportunities and environmental initiatives throughout the City of Brantford, the County of Brant and Six Nations of the Grand River.

“Our mission here is really to help raise funds for the projects that enhance, restore, and preserve the natural heritage of the Grand River valley in this area, as well as to advocate for natural resources,” she said. “This annual event has really become one of our key sources of funds to achieve that work.”

Marie Fanjoy, Chair of Brant Waterways’ gala committee, speaks about the Grand River’s 30th anniversary during the Forks on the Grand fundraising gala on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

Fanjoy said that she was grateful for the many event sponsors and local businesses that donate items each year and help to make their fundraising efforts possible.

“Some of our donated prizes were anywhere from $25 to $500 and everything in between and it just wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t have the support of all those donors, you know?” she said. “It just all adds to the flavor and the fun of the event so we always appreciate them.”

Attendees participate in the annual “Rivers or Trails” game during the Forks on the Grand fundraising gala on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

On top of the fundraising efforts, this year’s “Forks on the Grand” gala also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Grand River’s establishment as a Canadian Heritage River.

Dale Hall, a Paris resident and returning guest, said that the event was a great showcase for what the Grand River and the Paris community that surrounds it, has to offer.

Guests browse the nearly 45 silent auction items during the Forks on the Grand fundraising gala on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

John Malcolm, a first-time attendee, said he enjoyed the overall atmosphere.

“I like that the market is open in all different areas and it’s not just cramped in one room, it gives you some space to walk around and mingle,” he said. “Between the drinks, the food and the live music, it’s just a really great atmosphere, I’ll definitely come again.”

Since its establishment in 1988, Brant Waterways has helped to invest over five million dollars into the Brantford-Brant communities, improving walking trails, biking trails, and river access points, as well as waterways restoration projects.

Attendees grab one of the five oven baked pizza options during the Forks on the Grand fundraising gala on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

Currently, there are a number of projects are underway with community partners including: D’Aubigny Creek Water Access project and the Ecological Study at Rotary Centennial Waterworks Park with the City of Brantford, Newport Bridge River Access Project with the County of Brant and annual tree plantings organized by the Brant Tree Coalition, a sub-committee of Brant Waterways.

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