ST. STEPHEN – After a prolonged hiatus, August 2021 will see the return of International Homecoming Festival in St. Stephen. Events Coordinator for the Town of St. Stephen Michelle Vest said organizers have some events planned already, and are still in the process of organizing other activities to take place between Thursday, August 5, and Saturday, August 7. It is possible that Hands Across the Border will be taking place this year on the first day of International Homecoming Festival.

“So far, we’re still waiting to see if we can do Hands Across the Border,” said Vest. “If the border is open in time, the Americans are open to us doing Hands Across the Border. We’re not sure what that will look like, but if the border is open we will try and figure out something. Both sides are doing a shorter festival. Because the Americans have opened up so much earlier than us, they actually had a lot of their stuff planned for months. They called it the St. Croix Homecoming Festival this year. We will be posting stuff on the International Homecoming Festival website. I’m not going to change our name.”

Vest said they have shortened the length of the festival this year, but there will still be plenty of fun things for everyone to do, from kids’ games and activities to the concert in the park and even a pig roast at 5 Kings Restaurant. The St. Croix International Waterway Commission has confirmed their kids’ event, and Shaun Richard will be the performer for the concert in the park on Thursday, August 5 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

On Friday, August 6, the 5 Kings Restaurant will be hosting a pig roast and beer garden. Vest said there are three acts that have been confirmed for this event, Hayden Wiebe, Will Power, and Saving Sweet Polly, an all-female cover band.

Saturday, August 6 is Family Day at the Garcelon Civic Center. Vest said there will be a variety of both indoor and outdoor activities happening on this day. The St. Croix International Waterway Commission will be there hosting kids’ activities, including colouring and a matching game.

“Basically, they’ll set up a tent with various games,” said Vest. “I know one game is going to be organizing trash and its decomposition, which one goes first. If you get it right, you get prizes. Their activities are always very youth-centric. For our 150, they did rock painting. You could either take your rock with you or leave the rock with them and it would get put into one of their worksites. The Waterway Commission has always been really good during International Festival. They give us extra volunteers as well when we need them for events. They represent both sides. Since I’ve been doing the festival, the Waterway Commission has been involved and they’ve been great to work with.”

Of course, you can’t have International Homecoming Festival without a great fireworks display, and that will be happening on Saturday, August 7, set off on the U.S. side of the border. Vest said the fireworks are paid for by the American fundraising committee that sponsors this event, the Town of St. Stephen, and Hardwicks. Prior to the fireworks, Full Circle will be playing on the waterfront beginning at 7:30 p.m.

There will be one change this year when it comes to traffic. Vest said the section of Budd Avenue between 5 Kings and the corner near the GCC will be closed off for safety reasons. The section by the Provincial building will be open, as well as the section between Budd Avenue and Princess Street.

“We are shutting down Budd Avenue because of safety,” said Vest. “Fireworks especially, with a band down there now, it gets really popular. Kids run and they play. We know this is going to happen so we’re just going to keep it safe for everyone. Some people may be frustrated by the detours. We will be closing it for a lot of our events this year, including Ribfest.”