‘It’s like a big reunion’: Community bonds shine bright at Ridgefest

With his trusty service dog Roxie finding some shade under his vendor table out in front of Brimstone Brewing Co., Dave Phillips was taking in the sense of community on full display in Ridgeway.

Dave “Chops” Phillips was outside Brimstone Brewing Co. on Saturday as part of Ridgefest. He’s the owner of Code 33 Apparel. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio

The founder of Code 33 Apparel, who goes by Chops to everyone who knows him, was one of the many vendors lining Ridge Road North on Saturday during the second day of Ridgefest.

He founded Code 33 Apparel after receiving a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder in 2017. The name refers to the 1033 code, which he said in first responder circles is well known as a call for immediate assistance.

“I started Code 33 basically as a stepping stone to keep the conversation going about PTSD and mental health awareness,” he said.

The Waterdown resident rotates through different charities to support through the apparel company. Ridgefest marked the last days of a campaign to support Niagara’s Valhalla Project.

Chops said the company is both a way to raise money and awareness, while also being therapeutic for the first responder who began flying medevac helicopters for Ornge in 2001.

“I always said talk is therapy, this has really helped with my personal mental health journey,” he said. “The first step is honestly talking about it.”

And there was no shortage of people to talk to on Saturday, as Ridgeway was packed with people enjoying the long-running festival. Chrissy Davis, a board member with the Ridgeway BIA (Business Improvement Area), said the response this year was wonderful.

“It’s like a big reunion,” she said.

Not only is the festival a chance for locals to reconnect and catch up, but Davis said it’s also an opportunity for some of the community’s newcomers to see what Ridgeway is all about.

“It’s just seeing the happy faces, and seeing the shops and streets full,” she said when asked about her favourite part of the festival.

Remington and Brittany Lee brought their children Travis and Logan to Ridgefest, checking out the car show and everything else there was to see. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio

Brittany Lee and her Crystal Beach family were out on the street Saturday checking out the car show that took up the south end of the festival. Her thoughts on the day were similar to Davis.

“We just like wandering the street and seeing everybody out,” she said.

There were 60 vendors at the festival, Davis said. Their support, as well as the hard work of the many volunteers and BIA members, is what makes the festival a success, she added.

With the festival wrapped up, Davis is already looking forward to two more big events planned for later this year. The Ridgeway Fall Fest is set to return in October, while Christmas on the Ridge takes place in December.

Ridge Road North was packed with visitors on Saturday, as day two of Ridgefest took place under beautiful blue skies. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio
The Ridgefest car show was a popular attraction. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio
This bunny was curious about all the visitors to the OSPCA truck at Ridgefest. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio
Members of the Fort Erie Fire Department were in full force, slinging hotdogs and hamburgers, and sharing fire safety messages. Seen here is public educator Jennifer Pennell-Ajie. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio
According to organizers, Ridgefest this year was a knockout success. Aaron Gaspare seems to agree. Credit: Luke Edwards | Fort Erie Radio

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