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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Fond memories of Stampede visits with her late father

'Ecstatic' that Virgil fair is back, Maya Gazzard recalls the good times she had there with her dad


Molly Bowron

The Lake Report

The Virgil Stampede is a happy place for many people to escape reality, enjoy midway rides and carnival food, and create lasting memories.

For Maya Gazzard, 15, that meant going to the Stampede with her father, Rev. Tony Gazzard, every year since she was five.

With the Stampede back in town, Niagara-on-the-Lake is abuzz with anticipation, but for Maya, it’s bittersweet.

In February 2020, just as the pandemic hit, her father died.

She’s excited to attend this weekend’s Stampede but holds dear memories of enjoying the mouth-watering treats and stomach-flipping rides along with her dad.

One of her fondest Stampede memories with her father is the reptile exhibit.

“Whenever we went to the Stampede, our first stop would always be the reptile exhibit.”

She credits those visits to the animal exhibit with her father for inspiring her love for animals as she grew up.

“My dad was born in the Caribbean, so he was very used to reptiles, snakes and stuff like that. So, I got that love of animals from him.”

With all these memories, the Stampede is more than just a place with rides and food, but one where people can come together to share and remember old times, she said. It’s what makes the Stampede a welcome tradition in NOTL.

Although this year brings change and new beginnings for her, Maya declared with a huge smile that she is “ecstatic” the fair is back.

“I like to share the experience with everyone that I can because it makes me have so much happiness, to see everyone in town and even people from out of town come together.”

Creating memories and sharing good times with others makes the Stampede really special, especially those who live in town, said Maya, who is in Grade 10 at Laura Secord Secondary School in St. Catharines.

“I think the Stampede really offers a safe haven for everyone to come around and it takes them away from the worries of their normal life and gives them a day of fun.”

She’s looking forward to a weekend of fun, the sounds of laughter and the screams of joy from the midway rides. And remembering good times with her dad.


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