GRAVENHURST — Longtime Kahshe Lake residents Chris and Andrew Taylor have an itch.
FLEAFEST COMING SOON.
Kahshe lake residents Chris and Andrew Taylor have been granted Town of Gravenhurst support to hold the second annual Fleafest, a gathering of sea flea boats, like those pictured above, at Gull Lake Rotary Park in Gravenhurst this summer.
It’s more brash than rash; holding onto a passion several decades old and once far more common on Muskoka’s lakes, but the duo is completely bitten by sea fleas and hope to bring a festival to Gull Lake Rotary Park later this summer.
The brothers in blood and hobby gave a presentation to Gravenhurst council April 17, proposing the second annual Fleafest come “home, back to where we consider the hub of Muskoka to be,” according to Chris, who is also the founder and president of Muskoka Sea Fleas.
First held at Six Mile Lake Provincial Park in 2011, the festival was a complete success according to the organizers with between 20 to 30 sea flea boats on display. With their sights set on Gull Lake’s beachfront, they hope the larger and more central location would draw upwards of 50 to 60 boats and plenty more participants to take part.
Andrew explained the festival is essentially a “show ’n shine” with displays and information about the boats, how they are built and their safe use, demonstrations and prizes for top boats. He said it is a one-day event and will include tours of Gull Lake and a picnic lunch at the beach, with Aug. 25 as the target date. He added the boats are not big, loud, fast speedboats, but family-oriented craft.
“It has to be safe, it has to be family oriented and it has to be community building,” Andrew said of the event. “These boats are mom-friendly.”
Muskoka Sea Fleas is an enthusiasts’ group who have held true to their passions with about 700 members worldwide, but most are based in Ontario. Chris explained he and Andrew got into sea flea boat building as youths in the early 1970s with their father on Kahshe Lake.
He said it was once quite a popular pastime for families to build the small boats together, but over the years, interest waned. A few dedicated souls still build and work on the boats and hope to share that passion through the festivals.
Sea fleas are typically homemade, smaller, one-person, wooden craft with low-powered motors, generally less than 9.9 horsepower. They can achieve speeds of about 30 miles an hour.
Council was quite supportive of the event and has asked staff to create a report detailing how the event may operate at the beach for the day and if the Aug. 25 date will suit for acceptance at a future date.
“I think Gull Lake is a perfect lake for it and I think Aug. 25 is a perfect date for it,” said councillor and Gull Lake Park neighbour Sandy Cairns. “I look forward to it happening.”