2018 has been a big year for St. Thomas and Elgin County, and we’ve had a front row seat to all the action. Check out our top 15 most memorable moments from this year!

15. Hitting a fresh milestone

fresh-fest-st-thomas-ontario-elgin-county
FreshFest at the CASO Station, August 16, 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

Quietly growing every year, FreshFest is a delicious event showcasing the food talent we have right here in Elgin. In 2018, they celebrated their 10th anniversary with 250 guests and 14 food and beverage vendors. If you love food, make sure you check out FreshFest 2019!

14. Hosting our first steampunk and sideshow event

Beer-lesque & Carniv-ale Show St. Thomas
The Beer-lesque & Carniv-ale Show, May 26, 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

Yes, this happened. The first annual Beer-lesque & Carniv-ale Show took place in the Elgin County Railway Museum, harkening back to the days of Barnum & Bailey with Ontario craft beer and sideshow and burlesque acts. The 2019 edition has just been announced, so RSVP soon if you’re interested in this steampunk extravaganza!

13. Seeing art, making art

Railway City Arts Crawl, February 23-24, 2018 | Photo: Sarah Noble

This year, the Railway City Arts Crawl was voted Favourite Event of 2018 at the myFM Spirit Awards. And no wonder. This free event shows off the vibrant arts scene in Elgin-St. Thomas. Sarah Noble, organizer of last year’s event, says that the “greatest strength of the Arts Crawl is how much talent is featured. With over 70 different artists to discover and engage with, even people who don’t identify as ‘art lovers’ found something to connect with.”

12. Winning a Sweet Award

seed confections chocolate bonbon with painted rose
Chocolate from Seed Confections, located at 159 Ross Street, St. Thomas | Image courtesy of https://www.seedconfections.com/

St. Thomas chocolatier Genevieve Scarfone was recognized internationally for her incredible chocolate creations this year. Her cranberry sage bonbon won bronze at the 2018 International Chocolate Awards in Florence, Italy on November 17, 2018. Read the whole delicious story here.

11. Starting a music movement

Pat Maloney at Port Stanley United Church Harbour Sessions Live
Pat Maloney playing at Port Stanley United Church, part of Harbour Sessions Live | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

Port Stanley has an incredible music heritage, and as of this year, it’s on its way to revival. Entrepreneur and luthier Greg Wight has begun Harbour Sessions Live, which brings together local and international musicians in a concert series based in Port Stanley. Keep an eye out for future Harbour Sessions!

10. Taking a tour of local food and beverages… on a train

train conductor on old fashioned train car with group of people
Conductor’s Choice – A Culinary Experience on Rails | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

This year’s culinary tour was truly an unforgettable experience. It pulled in the talents of dozens of local food and beverage creators and stopped at the CASO Station, Wildflowers Farm, Quai du Vin, and the Elgin County Railway Museum. We can’t wait to see what Railway City Tourism has up their sleeves for next year!

9. Spreading Christmas Cheer with Santa and the Elves

Beth Burns of the Downtown Development Board and Dave Thomson of 94.1 myFM spreading Christmas cheer with Santa and his elves on December 8, 2018.
Beth Burns of the Downtown Development Board and Dave Thomson of 94.1 myFM spreading Christmas cheer with Santa and his elves on December 8, 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

The Downtown Development Board and myFM spent a Saturday in December handing out free coffees and paying for shopping bills. Try not to cry when you watch the video.

8. That time when I Mother Earth rocked the Iron Horse Festival

I Mother Earth playing at the Iron Horse Festival
I Mother Earth playing at the Iron Horse Festival, August 17, 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

It was a great year for the Iron Horse Festival. Back on Talbot Street, the four-day festival featured big name musicians like Eric Ethridge and I Mother Earth as headliners on Friday and Saturday nights.

7. Getting muddy for charity

kids sliding in mud at the Junior Jumbo Mud Challenge 2018
Junior Jumbo Mud Challenge 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

The second annual Junior Jumbo Mud Challenge grew significantly in 2018, with over 700 kids taking on the mud. The event raised money for Bridges Out of Poverty, an organization that works to end poverty in Elgin County.

6. Celebrating local art in an alluring new way

"Allure" - an immersive photography event at Jac's House, Elgin County
Allure – an immersive photography event at Jac’s House, Elgin County | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

Combining the talents of local artists, photographers, and models with Elgin County’s newest art gallery, Jac’s House, turned out to be a great idea for an event. You will definitely see more of it in the future. Read all about Allure here.

5. Learning from David Usher at the Elgin County Railway Museum

David Usher at Bridges to Better Business, hosted by the Small Business Enterprise Centre
David Usher at Bridges to Better Business, hosted by the Small Business Enterprise Centre | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

SBEC brought out the big guns this year for their annual Bridges to Better Business event. David Usher entertained, educated, and inspired the many Elgin County business owners in attendance. Many selfies were taken with the 90s heartthrob.

4. Watching four mayoral candidates battle it out

Heather Jackson, Malichi Male, Joe Preston, and Steve Wookie at the Rogers TV St. Thomas Downtown Development Board Mayoral Debate
The mayoral candidates at the St. Thomas Downtown Development Board Mayoral Debate | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

The mayoral election in October was definitely a defining feature of 2018 for St. Thomas. The candidates included incumbent mayor Heather Jackson, musician Malichi Male, former MP and local business owner Joe Preston, and retired educator and previous city councillor Steve Wookey.

3. The most heartfelt acceptance speech you’ve ever seen

You need a video to understand this moment. Doris and Gabriel Chordekar were overwhelmed by their victory in the Enterprise Elgin Business Plan Competition on October 16, 2018. Their grand prize was $11,000 in cash and in-kind support to grow their business, Shebaz’s Shawarma in Port Stanley.

2. The first concert in St. Thomas’s newest concert venue

the pairs band playing music in a library
The Pairs at the St. Thomas Public Library for Songs in the Stacks, November 24, 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

It’s not a new building, but hosting concerts is new to the St. Thomas Public Library. STPL brought The Pairs and Deni Gauthier in for a sold out night to remember called Songs in the Stacks. It probably won’t be the last concert at the library, either.

1. When the rodeo came to town

man on a bull at a rodeo
St. Thomas RAM Rodeo, August 25-26, 2018 | Photo: Grayden Laing, Laing Studios/Establish Media

This moment gets number one for most memorable because it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. One weekend in August 2018, you could watch people get thrown from bulls, among other fun rodeo events like bronc riding, barrel racing, and a kids sheep scramble. The St. Thomas RAM Rodeo was definitely one for the books.

Thanks for a great year, Elgin-St. Thomas!

2018 also happens to be the year Establish Media was born. We’ve had a blast covering local events and telling the stories of the people we meet. We’re looking forward to many more years to come. Cheers!

– Nick, Brandon, Emily, Marty, and Grayden