Scores of sightseers from across Lambton County descended on Sombra on Aug. 5 to partake in an annual fruity festival that celebrates the community, local culture and all things related to blueberries.
Sombra Museum once again played host to its long-running Blueberry Social, an afternoon event which featured music, historical exhibitions as well as a myriad of homemade blueberry baked goods.
Curator Kailyn Shepley said that yearly berry bash typically brings in over 160 people to the museum, showcasing the museum’s engaging exhibitions, the considerable talent of the community’s artists along with the substantial skills of the Sombra’s small army of volunteer bakers.
“In general it’s a way to bring people into the museum, to celebrate the blueberry and to show off different community members and their talents,” she said. “This year there’s an added urgency to draw people in because the ferry is closed, so we’ve had fewer visitors at the museum compared to years past.”
Whether they were listening to the music of local fiddling phenom Sabrina Rankin, taking tours of the museum’s historic Bury House or simply interested in trying some homemade treats, attendees to this year’s social had an embarrassment of blueberry riches to choose from, Shepley said.
“We have a great group of volunteers and staff who every year bake blueberry scones, muffins, pies, cheesecakes,” Rankin said. “You name it, they cook it.”
Attendees to this year’s Blueberry Social got the chance to catch the museum’s latest exhibition, Play Ball: Baseball in St. Clair Township, a look back at 100-plus years of ball in communities including Corunna, Courtright, Bickford, Wilkesport and Port Lambton.
“We have information from about 1914 up until 2016 about local players, teams, equipment and anything else we could gather,” Shepley said. “We’ve put out a call to the public for information, uniforms or stories about baseball and the whole community has come together and donated items to the museum.”
And guests to this year’s Blueberry Social were also able to get an up-close look at several wild four-legged creatures at the Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue tent, which was set up in front of the museum.
Featuring two striped skunks named Ernie and Stinkerbutt, two painted turtles and an opossum named Emma, the tent also contained representatives from the volunteer wildlife rehabilitation organization, who outlined the important work they do across large swaths of southwestern Ontario.
“We’re trying to educate the public about the importance of species we rehabilitate,” said Heaven’s Wildlife Executive Director Peggy Jenkins.
“Each animal we have here today is non-releasable for various reasons and if they’re non-releasable then legally they have to be euthanized because they would not survive in the wild or else we can apply for an educational permit for that animal so we can bring them out in the public,” Jenkins continued.
“So what we do is we go to schools, service clubs, libraries and events like this so that members of the public can see these animals up close. And then they can learn how they can help Heaven’s Wildlife.”