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WAMBO 31 years later

As the Wallaceburg Antique and Motor Boat Outing (WAMBO) celebrates its 31st anniversary, now would be a good time to look back at the origins and beginnings of the festival, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past quarter century.

It started off with a loan. The town of Wallaceburg, with mayor Gary O’Flynn at the helm, donated $5,000 to get WAMBO off the ground.

The founder of WAMBO was the late Pard Martin. The late Ted Oliver, was the co-chair the first year.

The late Jack Dent designed the WAMBO logo, and Joe Celtotto made a brass logo.

The managers for the first WAMBO included; Al Mann (boats), Gary Labadie (cars), John Burgess (fire trucks).

The first year was a success.

The one-day festival took place on Aug. 12 1989, and featured 76 boats, 68 cars, 22 fire trucks.

The first WAMBO featured a refreshment tent with a polka band, a roving Dixieland band, food concessions, souvenirs, program sales, a river cruise, awards, and a dance at the CBD Club.

Part of why WAMBO was a success (and a large part of why it’s a success today) was due to the large number of sponsors who jumped on board.

Among the first group of sponsors included: Patterson Motors, Duchene Paints, Tom and Al’s, St. Croix Monuments, Dick Primeau, Taylor’s Variety, D.S. Walker Jewellers.

Committee members included Don Burgess, Gary Labadie and John Martin, and all are still WAMBO supporters.

The first-year Mr. WAMBO was Lyn Tapp souvenirs.

The Black Goose gondola, which has made many WAMBO appearances, was at the first WAMBO.

Over the years WAMBO has grown and changed, but at its core it’s still a festival that celebrates cars, boats and fire trucks, and a good chance to show off the community’s natural assets and let people have a good time.