Petrolia unveils ‘A Party 150 years in the making’ for sesquicentennial

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Petrolia Acting Mayor Joel Field says 2024 is going to be a “hometown reunion” for the people of Petrolia.

The town marks the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the town and the formal creation of the local fire department in 2024 and volunteers have been putting together a slate of events through the entire year. Wednesday, the town unveiled the year-long slate of events dubbed “A Party 150 years in the making.”

The town kicks off the 150th anniversary with a bang Jan. 1 with an Opening Gala at Victoria Hall – the seat of government since 1889. It includes a special performance and reception. “We have a show that excites and interests people looking backward at some of the more famous people who performed on stage here and give everyone an opportunity to see what is coming the rest of the year,” says Laurissa Ellsworth, director of marketing, arts and communication in Petrolia.

Tickets go on sale for the gala Oct. 23.

There will be no shortage of celebrations after that. Every month, the VPP Foundation will be offering free movies for the family. The Petrolia Y will have free swims each month and a birthday party, complete with cupcakes. And for those who would rather lace up their skates, there will be free skating at the Greenwood Recreation Centre during the regular ice season with birthday cupcakes for people at the rink.

The big weekend, according to Ellsworth is Aug. 15 to 18 when the town hosts The Hard Oil Music Festival. Ellsworth says the festival will bring “big names” to Petrolia, although the organizing committee is not saying which groups just yet. The music starts Thursday and runs until Saturday.

Sunday, there will be a community worship service and then the Hard Oil Kids Day which includes a concert, giveaways, and lots of things for the kids to do until 4 pm.

Sat. Aug. 17, there will be a Petrolia 150 parade “with green and white as far as the eye can see” and a flyover by the world famous RCAF Snowbirds.

“We’re hoping to bring folks from near and far that once called Petrolia home, says Ellsworth.

“It is a homecoming style weekend with the parade and the large music events and the kids and the church events.”

Acting Mayor Field is looking forward to the homecoming.

The Petrolia 150 Committee has been working on the project since 2018, with much of the planning taking place after most of the pandemic restrictions eased. But through it all, Field says he kept his distance from the planning, wanting to be surprised.

“The event in August is so exciting. It’s going to be like a hometown reunion year – it’s just going to be so exciting for people,” he says.

“Now people will be able to plan out holidays … around some of these events.”
The year also closes out with a “party Petrolia won’t soon forget” on New Years’ Eve at the Greenwood Recreation Centre. There will be free skating, fun and games, another birthday cake, a DJ and at 8 pm the party moves outdoors for a fireworks display.

Along with the special events, Field says the town’s regular festivals – such as Pizzafest, Harvestfest and the Christmas Parade- will have a 150th anniversary theme. Field says the organizing committee has “really basically put all our events on steroids.”

Community groups will also get into the act, most notably the Petrolia/North Enniskillen Fire department. The first act of the new town in 1874 was to pass a bylaw creating the first fire crews. The department plans to mark its 150th anniversary with a couple of events including Firefighter Days where firefighters from the area will be invited to Petrolia in July for some friendly competitions.

The town will host the provincial Town Criers competitions in June.

And the Petrolia Enniskillen Agriculture Society is hosting a special – yet to be revealed – event in June.

The town also hopes to mark the special year by opening two new facilities – a new bandshell with accessible washrooms at Victoria Park and a splash pad at the Petrolia Y which is a project in conjunction with the Petrolia Kiwanis Club. Those are slated for May.

“From start to finish, there’s something for everyone,” says Field.
Ellsworth says a special website has been set up for people to find all the events – www.petrolia150.com. Residents will be able to purchase Petrolia 150 clothing, coins, signs and flags at the site.

A special Mosaic Mural Project is also in the works and downtown business owners will be displaying the history of the buildings in their front windows all year long.

The Independent will be delivering a special 150th Commemorative Edition in January, filled with the history of the community and a guide to the 150th celebration events in the summer.

And Ellsworth says anyone celebrating a special birthday or anniversary can get a commemorative certificate from the town.

While there is still much work to be done heading up to the events, Ellsworth says the Petrolia 150 committee deserves credit for creating events for the people of Petrolia. “This is a birthday party first and foremost, and the celebration is for the residents,” she says.

Committee Chair Denise Thibeault says “we are fortunate to have so many passionate and dedicated representatives from a variety of groups, clubs and community members dedicating their time to celebrate.

Some of the Petrolia 150 Events in 2024

Jan. 1 – Petrolia 150 Flag Raising at Victoria Hall – 11 am
Jan. 1 – Opening Gala at Victoria Hall – tickets on sale Oct. 23.
Feb. 16-19 – Family Fun Days
April and May – Order of the Easter Star host High Tea at seniors’ homes
May 11 – Band Shell Ribbon Cutting at Victoria Park – 11 am
May 18 – Petrolia Splash Pad Grand Opening
June 1 – Pizzafest at Victoria Park
June 7&8 – Town-Wide Garage Sales
June 14-16 – Provincial Town Criers Competition
June 15-16 – Petrolia/Enniskillen Ag Society Special event
June 22 – Dedication of Indigenous Friendship Garden, Victoria Park 11 am
July 1 – Canada Day celebrations
July 12&13 – Art in the Park at Victoria Park
July 13 – Barn Dance at the Petrolia Market
July 19-20 – Petrolia & North Enniskillen Firefighter Days
July 20 – Petrolia Community Theatre and the United Church present a
Victorian Wedding
Aug. 1 -17 – The Hard Oil Music Festival at Greenwood Park
Aug. 17 – Petrolia 150 Parade and Snowbirds Flyover
Aug. 18 – Community worship service at Greenwood Park, 10 am
Aug. 18 – Hard Oil Kids Day at Greenwood Park, 11 am
Sept. 14 – Petrolia Harvestfest
Oct. 25&26 – IODE Haunted Home Tours
Dec. 6 – Christmas in the Park, Victoria Park
Dec. 7 – Christmas Market at the Petrolia Farmers’ Market
Dec. 31 – New Years’ Eve Closing Party with fireworks at the Greenwood
Jan. 1 – Flag lowering at Victoria Hall and community blessings
Monthly events include free movies at the VPP, free in season ice skating at the Greenwood Recreation Centre and free swims at the Petrolia Y
For more information see http://www.petrolia150.com