Jordan MacKenzie (left) and Mason Works paint a sign that will be displayed during the Kraft Celebration Tour that makes a stop in Amherst on Saturday. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and continue through the live broadcast of TSN's SportsCentre. Darrell Cole - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - Let the celebration begin.
Downtown Amherst is about to get very busy as crews from Kraft Canada and the Sports Network arrive this morning to begin setting up for Saturay's Kraft Celebration Tour and community celebration that will include a live broadcast of TSN's flagship program, SportsCentre.
"We're as ready as we'll ever be," Faith Flemming co-ordinator of the local organizing committee said Thursday. "It's been pretty hectic getting everything into place, but we're ready to go."
Victoria Street from Church to Havelock will be closed early this morning to allow crews from TSN to set up their massive stage in the heart of the downtown. Hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole are scheduled to arrive in town today and are scheduled to play a round of golf at the Amherst Golf Club and meet the players and do some play-by-play as the Amherst Canadian Tire Little League Selects host Moncton at 6 p.m. at the Ernie Landry Ball Park.
Amherst won the right to host the celebration tour and SportsCentre when it beat out Dartmouth's Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club in an online competition, picking up the highest vote total in the country in the process.
YMCA managing director Trina Clarke said quite a few people have come forward to offer their help as volunteers and there'll be an orientation session tonight at 6 p.m. as the finishing touches are put on the downtown.
"We're ready and we're excited about it," Clarke said.
Festivities kick off at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the Kraft community celebration. There'll be numerous children's activities including face painting, sidewalk chalk drawings, inflatables and other events. There'll be a skateboard demonstration and street hockey with the Amherst Ramblers.
There will also be an autograph session with former NHLers Craig Martin and Mac Davis as well as other local sports celebrities including little league's Art 'Sonny' Foster, Brad Blenkhorn of Canada's gold medal winning amputee hockey team, members of the Amherst Ramblers, golfer Barb Hood and others featured in the town's sports mural.
The official welcome and Bull's-Eye barbecue goes at 5 p.m. with Kraft Canada presenting the $25,000 winning cheque to the YMCA just before the SportsCentre broadcast at 7 p.m.
There will be entertainment in the park featuring Nicknameless, Big Deal and Grindstone.
Organizers are watching the weather closely. While hurricane or tropical storm Danny is expected to arrive overnight Saturday, Clarke said the show will go ahead regardless if it arrives earlier.
"They've told us that barring the earth opening up and swallowing the stage the show will go on," she said. "We hope it's not umbrella weather, but if it is we'll be there rain or shine."