The 3rd Annual AQUINO Weekend, the largest military show in Ontario, takes place this weekend, May 27, 28 and 29, 2016, at Oshawa’s Ontario Regiment Museum. We sat down with the Museum’s Executive Director, Jeremy Neal Blowers, to find out more about this popular event.
The 3rd Annual AQUINO Weekend takes place this weekend, May 27 – 29, 2016. How and why was it started?
We wanted to create an event for Canada that was as large as those that are available in the United States. Canadian veterans and serving personnel deserve to be recognized for their sacrifice and service by the public, and we wanted to put on the largest show possible to do this.
AQUINO Weekend is also the largest military show in Ontario. What can visitors expect to see and experience?
At the show visitors will be able to hear, see, feel and smell Tanks and other military vehicles in action. This is a whole new way to EXPERIENCE history. There will be full battle re-enactments and members of the public will be able to see first hand what it was like for men and women who have served our country.
What’s the significance of the name “AQUINO”?
Aquino is a small town and airfield in central Italy. A battle took place there in 1944 where the Ontario Regiment fought alone against impossible odds against the Germans. 13 Sherman tanks were knocked out and those that escaped were all hit several times. We named the event AQUINO to commemorate that battle and the service of Canadians in Italy during the Second World War.
2016 marks the 150th birthday of the Regiment founded in 1866. We have dedicated Saturday to the Ontario Regiment to honour their service. Also, 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War. We have over 15 veterans of that conflict coming from the UK to be honoured for their service.
Are people who aren’t involved in the military or have relatives in the military welcome?
Yes they are. All are welcome. The AQUINO event is for the general public, not for the military. This is an opportunity for the public to learn about Canada’s military service and our military history.
What part of the weekend are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the live battle re-enactments. This year we have support from several movie pyrotechnic companies and we will be having Hollywood quality pyrotechnics, explosions and other surprises for the audience. It will be so close to the real thing and better than any movie. I can’t wait to see the faces of our guests when we bring out the real “shock and awe” performance.
What do you hope visitors to AQUINO Weekend take away from their experience?
I hope that visitors to the show will be both entertained and better informed at the end of the weekend. After experiencing the live shows and meeting several veterans, I hope they walk away with an appreciation of the commitment, service and sacrifice that our forces personnel have given and continue to give every day to defend our country and our freedoms.
In closing, is there anything new at the Ontario Regiment Museum you’d like to tell us about?
We have a new exhibit this year that is the first of it’s kind in North America. We have partnered with several technology companies, including Blippar, a visual discovery app, to bring an entirely new and augmented reality experience to our displays. Watch this short video to learn more.
Weekend pass for adults $20, children $10