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What to Expect at Ford Fest 2013

The mayor is holding a Scarborough-based version of his annual public barbecue tonight.

The crowd at Ford Fest 2012.

Every summer, Mayor Rob Ford holds Ford Fest, a giant outdoor barbecue that’s open to the public. The next one is happening tonight, July 5. (The Fords have suggested that there may be another, later in the summer.)

If you read Torontoist, chances are that you don’t agree with the mayor’s politics or his personal conduct, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go to his party. The whole city is invited, and that includes you. Here’s how to make the most of your night out at Ford Nation’s moveable feast—assuming it isn’t completely rained out.

The Location

Ford Fest has historically been held in Etobicoke, in Ford’s mother’s backyard. This year, probably in recognition of the fact that running a political event as though it were a prom afterparty isn’t the best outreach strategy, the mayor is taking his show on the road. Tonight’s event takes place in Thomson Memorial Park, in Scarborough. It starts at 6 p.m.

When to Arrive

There’s no point in arriving late to Ford Fest. If you show up early, you’re not going to end up alone with the mayor, struggling to make awkward small talk. In fact, you’re unlikely to interact with him at all, beyond a possible handshake on your way in. In past years, he’s made himself scarce for the bulk of the event. His brother, Doug Ford, is more of a mingler, but he’ll be mobbed by photo-seeking supporters throughout the night.

You might as well arrive as close to 6 p.m. as possible. The Fords are expecting a crowd of thousands, so a timely arrival will ensure that you get a good parking spot. Going early will also allow you to catch speeches and photo-ops. At previous Ford Fests there have been some politicians (other than the Ford brothers) in attendance, but that was before the crack scandal. It should be interesting to see who takes the stage this year.

There will almost certainly be someone at the gate collecting names and email addresses. There’s no real reason to give fake information—the worst-case scenario is that your email gets added to Ford’s campaign mailing list—but you can make up a false name if you want.

Eat First

There are free hamburgers at Ford Fest, but they’re not to be relied upon. Last year, the line for food was about 90 minutes long. Hungry guests were grabbing as many burgers as they could hold in their hands. It was like watching footage of refugees at a Red Cross tent after a tsunami, except everyone was dressed for leisure. You don’t need the mayor’s meat. Have a sandwich beforehand.

The Atmosphere

It’s hard to generalize the people who show up to Ford Fest. The crowd in past years definitely hasn’t been as white or as geriatric as might be expected. Some attendees were clearly there for the free food and not the politics. It’s possible to get mildly buzzed on free beer and wine, and as long as you’re respectful, nobody will mistreat you or question your right to be there.

There will probably be a handful of odd personalities in attendance, but that’s true of any event related to city politics. On the other hand, you may find a contingent of curious outsiders like yourself.

The Music

The past two Ford Fests have had live music from a cover band called Gently Bent, whose drummer is Gary Crawford (Ward 36, Scarborough Southwest), a council ally of the mayor’s. We don’t know if Crawford and company will be providing the soundtrack at tonight’s event, but we do know that a performer named Jenny James is, at some point, supposed to be doing a live version of the song in the video below, an original composition entitled “Mayor Ford (The World Will Remember).”

(Note the image, at :13, of Ford with a crack pipe Photoshopped into his hand. We assume its inclusion was a mistake.)


  • OgtheDim

    Wynne should go. Take Miclyzn.

    Would cause all the pundit heads to explode.

  • wklis

    “Free beer and wine”. But if it was held in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, and not in Thompson Park, the neighbours would complain to their Councillor.

    • Ryan

      Yeah because they get a permit . Hipsters can drink in the parks too if they buy a permit for an event . Why not drink in someones backyard .. or move to quebec. Theres a reason you cant drink in parks like trinity .. because then every park must allow booze . Try walking through some parks in the east end .. like queen and sherbourne … its already dangerous enough .. add booze to the equation you have serious problems

  • AllanG

    “The crowd in past years definitely hasn’t been as white or as geriatric as might be expected.”
    Really? From the picture above, I can only spot 3 non-white participants in total.

    • HotDang

      The expectation was 2.

      • AllanG

        Which was probably an improvement over the previous year.

    • dsmithhfx

      The detached bungalow burbs going north of Eglinton between Brimley and Kennedy is very multicultural, and sported a lot of Ford lawn signs last election. Also there’s loads of TCHC high rises scattered hither and thither in the vicinity. Will Rob’s glad-handing pay off? Will his star turn as a hug-a-thug help or hinder? Erstwhile Ford supporter Michael Thompson appears to draw solid support among the Kingston Road Carribean folk. Will they turn out?

  • bud latanville

    did anybody save a copy of the video? it’s gone “private” on youtube…

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      It’s public again. Same version. He still has the pipe at 0:13. Hilarious. I’m sure they’ll pull this down for a new version but many people will have the earlier version by then.

      • bud latanville

        yeah, it was only down for about 15 minutes. I saved a local copy, for posterior-ity… :)

  • blearghhh

    Yeah, I’ll just wait until the one in my neighborhood. Anyone know when that’s scheduled? I’m in Cabbagetown, so any of his downtown events would be fine.


    • dsmithhfx


      • blearghhh

        Really? But, but, that would mean he doesn’t give a shit about the huge population downtown!

  • Anonymous416

    > What to Expect at Ford Fest 2013
    Denial. Lots of denial.

  • Suzanne Lilly

    If Rob’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine. But if you’re planning on attending just to be a shit while enjoying free food and beer that’s not fine at all.

    • Testu

      Has that been a problem at previous Ford Fests?

      • Suzanne Lilly


        • Testu

          I was curious because that sort of thing doesn’t seem to get reported on in the articles about Ford Fest.

          I can understand why they wouldn’t want to focus on the negative behaviour of a few individuals, but I’ve never even seen it mentioned.

          • Suzanne Lilly

            No it doesn’t but I met many last year.

          • dsmithhfx


          • Suzanne Lilly

            They ate, they drank, the smiled then they trashed Ford

          • dsmithhfx


    • OgtheDim

      Yeah, people, leave being a shit for free food and beer for when you go to see your own family at the Holidays.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      They invited the whole city. That means I can go and get my free burger regardless of my political viewport. That doesn’t make me a shit. What’s the point of Rob Ford having these things if all he’s doing is preaching to his fanboys?

      • Suzanne Lilly


  • dsmithhfx


  • johndot

    The words “Ford Fest” evoke memories of the movie Cabaret:

  • TorontoWebcaster

    Ford Fest 2013 video:

  • photograph puzzles

    Thanks for the beautiful information..