A local celebrity came home to help the Village of Kingston celebrate its 60th anniversary.
Jennifer Crawford, the winner of last season’s MasterChef Canada television series, was the Honorary Parade Grand Marshall, during a busy day of activities.
The celebration also included pageants, amusements for children, live music and lots of food.
The day started with the annual community breakfast served up by the Kingston District Fire Department.
While Crawford enjoyed catching up with family, friends and neighbours, the popular TV personality took time for an interview and spoke about winning the prestigious award.
“I think it’s just so miraculous what can happen when you just chill out and take care of yourself. And take it a day at a time. I didn’t have any of these goals this time last year. I couldn’t have even dreamt this stuff up at this time last year,” Crawford said.
“I always thought achievement came by pushing yourself to the breaking point and willing yourself toward really lofty things. But things worked out for me because I did the exact opposite. And I am really grateful. It’s a lot easier this way.”
Participation in the celebrations brought back a lot of cherished memories. Especially about Crawford’s father, Brian Crawford, who participated in the Steer Barbecue every year until his death, 18 years ago.
“I grew up coming to this event and thinking that it was so cool that my dad was in the kitchen. Thinking that it was so cool that I could try to dunk him in the dunk tank. Everyone has been telling me how they will never forget his chicken wings. He made them really hot, and he barbecued them year-round. He always participated in the steer barbecue.”
Crawford said, “I never thought I would get to participate in something that feels like being part of a legacy of something really special. And that’s what today feels like.
“And the fact that I get to be here at all, let alone do all these really special things, and connect with people from every corner of life from the last bunch of decades, it feels like my heart has kind of grown 20 sizes today.”
Crawford also enjoyed hearing new stories.
“Coming home, there is so much comfort in all of these old things that I remember. But there are still new things. There are always surprises. I have learned things today about my dad that I’ve never heard before.”
Many people were eager to congratulate the celebrity chef.
“Excuse me. Could you cook me a hamburger?” one man interjected during the interview.
“I’ll whip it right up,” Crawford answered with a hearty laugh.
Deena McNeil, a member of the fire department, got to flip a few pancakes with the chef in the firehall kitchen.
"We watched Jennifer, and we cheered her on. It was great to see her win. And it's great to see her come home for this and support everyone here in town and at the firehall,” McNeil said in an interview.
Crawford is impressed with the organization of the event and the dedication of the volunteers who make it happen every year, especially the food preparation.
"I think some of the most special foods in Canada are at festivals like this. So many different outposts have their specific culinary creation. It was like watching pros last night, people who have done this for actual decades. You don’t have to be in a fancy kitchen to see some of the best cooking in Canada.”