Pelee Winery, Migration Hall uncork Christmas fundraiser

KINGSVILLE — Kingsville’s Migration Hall needed a fallback position when one of its longest and most-successful fundraising events — the Christmas House Tour — was cancelled this year because of COVID-19.

Each year the Migration Hall fundraising effort would attract 1,000 people to Kingsville, raising between $17,000 and $20,000. The funds raised were used for general operations, to stage productions and for advertising. The hall would also give $500 scholarships to two deserving students at Kingsville District High School.

“It’s always a highly anticipated event,” said hall general manager Kimberly Heaton. “We’d have people coming from as far away as Guelph. People look forward to it every year.”

Heaton said the committee that runs the hall had a good idea who to approach to help fill the void. They went to Pelee Island Winery which has a close connection to the house tour and hosts a popular wine reception at one of its banquet halls during the two-day tour.

To help the hall fundraising effort the winery has agreed to sell a specially labelled six-pack of two different wines, with 20 per cent of the sale price going to Migration Hall. The sale will last until at least Christmas.

“As long as people are ordering they will keep producing the packs with the specialized labels. It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Heaton.

She said those interested in supporting Migration Hall can phone the winery to place an order for pickup or they can visit, scroll to the wine shop and place their order. The cost is $86.20 and delivery is free across the province.

The year has been a tough one for Migration Hall; it was forced to cancel the play Menopause and the locally produced Music Man.

Heaton said the cancellation of Music Man was particularly tough because the production this year was going to mark the 25th anniversary of the hall and the 20th anniversary of the first local performance of the musical.

Into the Woods Jr., a children’s show, will be performed outdoors at Viewpointe Estate Winery sometime in May.

But the show must go on. Into the Woods Jr. — a musical that centres on a childless couple, Cinderella and a character named Jack who has a cow that won’t produce any milk — is now in rehearsals. Heaton said the children’s show is double-casted. More than 30 teens and children as young as 10 are part of the two productions.

The rehearsals are not being held at the hall; they’re being held in a vacant banquet hall at Viewpointe Estate Winery near Colchester.

“They are able to social distance in a very large climate-controlled environment. They’re still wearing masks, some are wearing visors, they are staying within their own pods,” Heaton said.

Heaton said Into the Woods Jr. will be performed outdoors at Viewpointe sometime in May. Music Man will also be performed outdoors at Viewpointe toward the end of spring or the beginning of summer.

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