Thursday, July 2, 2020

Festivaling with Kids (Part One)


Festivaling with Kids
With the economic times as they are, many families will exchange their expensive “away holidays” for less expensive “local excursions”. Many of these “local excursions” will be to festivals or events that are located close by. Because of this idea, I thought now would be a good time to write about kids and festivals. Most parents know how to “travel with kids” plus there are lots of articles about the subject. So, I won’t talk about “getting there”. Instead I’d like to discuss choosing “kid friendly” festivals and events, how to prepare for them and what to do when you get there. Because this is a fairly lengthy subject, I am dividing it into three parts, “Choosing”, “Preparing” and “Being There”.

Part One – Choosing a Festival
The best way that I know of, to find a “kid friendly” festival or event is through research. I think that the Internet provides the best tools for this research. Most festivals and events have websites. If they don’t, I feel sorry for them. Each website should show you what the festival/event is offering, things such as theme, activities, events, etc. This information should give you a good idea as to how “kid friendly” the event will be. For example, if the event is mainly arts and crafts, it may appeal to you but not to your kids! On the other hand, if it has a midway, music, animals and puppet shows, it likely will appeal to them. Price could also be a big factor, so check out the festival’s admission fees. Most festivals have reduced children’s rates. The distance you need to travel could affect your decision. If your children don’t travel well, long distances may eliminate some events. The festival website will hopefully give you a schedule of events and their times. This information will allow you to plan when to leave home so that you won’t miss any of the events you really want to see. If you don’t find all of the information you want from the website and you still want to go to the event, contact the event organizers by telephone or e-mail and get them to answer any questions you might have. If they don’t respond, it probably isn’t a festival you want to attend. After you have decided on which festival or event you are going to visit, preparation comes next. 
(To be continued – Part Two, Preparing to Visit a Festival)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Artists’ Series – Marg Lamendeau (Part 2)


It had rained heavily just before the Match started and the fields were pure mud! Marg told me that vendors tried to get through the mud to set up their booths but couldn’t. Festival organizers had to arrange tractor pulled wagons to help. She described the day that she and Kenny had arrived. “We tried walking to our booth area, but every step became harder and harder. We were sinking down into the mud so low that it kept sucking our booths off as we tried to take our steps. Kenny finally had to carry me back to hard ground!” When I met them at the Match, the ground had hardened. The weather, however, had taken its toll! Both Marg and Kenny, when they greeted me, look like they had been competing in a mud wrestling tournament! Fortunately, not too many shows were like that! During the helicon days of print sales, I spent a great deal of time either driving to and from their home in Arnprior or sitting in their kitchen drinking hot tea and munching on a goodie or two! I miss trips to Arnprior and sitting and talking with Marg and Kenny! However, times change and so do our lives. Marg eventually tired of the nomad life and moved off in other directions, while Judi and I left the art and framing business altogether.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Artists’ Series – Marg Lamendeau (Part 1)

This is a series about Canadian artists I have know, and worked with.

I can’t remember the exact circumstances of meeting Marg and Kenny Lamendeau. I think Marg had enquired about becoming an exhibitor at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival in the Lions/Lioness Art Show and Sale. Whatever the circumstances, we formed a closed bond shortly thereafter. Marg became a valued customer and Marg and Kenny became close friends! Marg was one of the top selling artists at the Cobourg Show and was always in the top 5 in sales. Cobourg wasn’t the only show she exhibited at. AS a matter of fact, I think they were at one show or another almost every weekend during the summer and fall months. It was a very tough schedule and one that they tired of after several years on the road. I think the funniest moment in our relationship came when I was delivering a load of freshly framed prints to her at one of the International Plowing Matches.

To be continued in Part 2 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Choosing Where To Go… (Part 2)


  1. Festival/Event Websites – Most of these calendars have direct links to the different festivals/events that are displayed. So if you find an event that you are interested in, you can go and check out their website.
  2. Review Website – Most website will give you enough details to tell what kind of festival or event it is. Information like costs, location, dates and activities. One note of caution, make sure that you are looking at a current site. Many festivals don’t keep their sites up-to-date or have a different site for each year. Some festivals cancel their event but don’t delete their website. Believe me, it can become very confusing if you don’t pay attention to what you are reading.
  3. Bad Weather – Check the website to see what their weather policy is. If it is an outdoor event, does it run, rain or shine? Many festivals include this information on their website. If not, you might want to check with the organizers. This was especially true last year with all the awful weather we experienced.
  4. Contact Organizers – Where you have any doubt, contact the organizers. Most websites include contact information, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, etc. If they don’t include this information, I would be very leery of going to the event. There many be nothing wrong, but!
  5. Internet Articles – Using the Search Engine, “Google” (http://www.google.com/), can be very helpful. If you go to “Google” and type in the name of the festival or event you are interested in, the list that Google gives you should not only include the festivals/events website, but will likely include a list of people who have visited the event and have written about it. These articles will give lots of information, good and bad, about the event you are researching. I always read the articles, especially the negative ones, with a “grain of salt”. Anyway, they will at least give you a sense of the event.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Choosing Where To Go… (Part 1)


Going to a festival or event is very personal. Where you decide to go will depend on many factors, interests, location, costs, dates, etc. Finding out about festivals and events can be frustrating. Most people want to get value for money spent. Word of month is probably the best way to find out about an event. It’s also a great way to evaluate an event, especially if you trust the person who makes the recommendation. We hope that you use Ontario Festivals Visited as a source. We are always glad to share our experiences. Unfortunately, we can’t visit every festival or event in Ontario (we wish we could), but there are over 3,000 of them! So, to help you choose, I am going to give you some tips. These are some of the techniques Judi and I use to make our choices.
  1. Event Calendars – There are a number of event calendars available on the internet. Here is where you can find three of them: Ontario Event Directory (https://directory.ontariovisited.ca/); Festivals and Events Ontario (http://www.festivalsandeventsontario.ca/) and Ontario Tourism (http://www.ontariotravel.net/). We check these first to find festivals or events that we might be interested in visiting.
(To be Continued in Part 2)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Stratford Festival


My earliest memory of the Stratford Festival was when I was a kid in public school! Just getting there was a big adventure! My school friends and I excitedly boarded the school bus and then we were off! Back then it seemed like a really long trip, but in reality, it was only a few hours. I don’t remember much about the play we saw. I am sure it was one of Shakespeare’s. I do, however, remember the box lunch we were served! I know that all the kids really liked it. I had never experienced anything like it. 
Over the years, I have been back to Stratford and the Stratford Festival many times. Stratford is one of my favourite places to visit. The downtown area is very quaint and the Festival Park area is beautiful. Victoria Lake forms the centre of the park with the Festival Theatre overlooking it. The white swans floating effortlessly across the water add to the park’s peace and majesty. There are plenty of options if you decide to stay overnight, from Bed and Breakfasts to quaint inns and everything in between. Of course, staying overnight means “going to the theatre”! The Festival was founded by Tom Patterson in 1953 and has had some of North America’s finest actors perform there. While the Festival’s primary mandate is to present productions of William Shakespeare’s plays, it also products a wide variety of other types of plays. This year’s (2009) plays include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Westside Story and The Importance of Being Ernest. There are some 14 plays in all. A far cry from when the Festival first started. The number of theatres has increased, as have the number and types of plays. If you enjoy traveling to interesting places and want to experience one of North America’s finest theatres, Stratford and the Stratford Festival is a must! To find out more, visit the Festivals Website at http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Artists’ Series – Glen Loates

This is a series about Canadian artists I have know, and worked with.
Glen was sitting at the kitchen window of a friend’s home. The window overlooked a large backyard. There were a number of mature trees in the backyard with one fairly close to the window. The owners of the home were very generous with tossing out bird seed. As a result, the backyard had become a Mecca for song birds! As we sat at the window a bright red Cardinal flew onto a branch close by. Glen already had pencil and paper in hand and was quickly sketching the morning guest. The details and animation of the bird were incredible. I watched with a new appreciation of Glen’s talents! This is likely my most vivid memory of my time with Wildlife Artist, Glen Loates. To me Glen is the epitome of a true renaissance man! He not only draws and paints to perfection. He writes novels and screenplays. He is a talented sculptor. He is an avid collector of many things and he is an explorer of some note. His knowledge of the world is child-like in that he needs to know everything. He has an insatiable curiosity of the world around him. Perhaps that is why he jumped at the chance to join the search for the “Giant Squid”! He is one of the few people who have traveled to the depths of the ocean. His account and renderings of the wondrous creatures he saw leave one breathless! In their ugliness, he sees beauty! In their bizarreness, he sees humour! In their world, he sees magic!

Glen has been painting as long as he can remember, a child prodigy. Glen has always been an innovator. He was one of the first artists to offer limited edition prints. As a pioneer in this area, he opened the doors for many artists to prosper. Even President Ronald Reagan benefited from Glen’s talents. As a thank you from Canadians, Glen presented the President Reagan with a wonderful painting of a Bald Eagle. While President Reagan was in office, the painting hung proudly in the White House. Today it hangs in the Reagan Presidential Library in California. Glen’s works, originals and limited editions can be found world-wide! 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Artists’ Series – Mary Kendrick

Mary Kendrick, like her art, is timeless! Judi and I have known and admired Mary for over 25 years. Over that period of time, Mary has remained the same, talented, modest and, most importantly, our friend. Over the years we have visited Mary at her home in Essex, hosted her at our home in Cobourg, purchased a number of her originals and taken art lessons from her! I guess what I am trying to say is that Mary has been an important part of our lives for many years. We really got to know Mary best when we convinced her to participate and exhibit at the first Cobourg Waterfront Festival. We lured her by promising to host her while she was in Cobourg. That was the start of a tradition that lasted over 15 years. I can’t remember how many good laughs we had during those stays! For many years Judi’s Cobourg Festival booth was next to Mary’s. The wisdom and friendship just kept on building! To say that Mary is modest would be an understatement. I believe that she is one of Canada’s best floral artists. Her works are collected by people from all over the world. While she was exhibiting at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival, she was consistently in the top 5 for sales. The same applied while she exhibited at the Buckhorn Fine (Wildlife) Art Festival. Mary has slowed down a little now, but her work is still as wonderful as ever and, I might add, much sought after.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Shane Peacock – Canadian Author

Several years ago, Judi and I were involved with the founding and organizing of a new festival in Port Hope. We wanted to create a festival theme that would be specific to Port Hope. We found that theme in the form of William Leonard Hunt or, as he became known worldwide, the Great Farini! Hunt, or Farini, was a larger than life character who roamed the world in the mid to late 1800’s. From tightrope walking over the Niagara Falls to inventing the Human Cannonball and beyond, Farini’s career was nothing short of spectacular! In order to find out more about Farini and his life and feats, we turned to Canadian author and Port Hope native, Shane Peacock! Shane’s book, “The Great Farini”, is the definitive reference book when it comes to William Leonard Hunt. The Farini Festival only ran for 3 years, but Shane’s input allowed us and the whole community to celebrate the extraordinary life of one of Port Hope’s favourite, but largely forgotten, sons! Over the years I have gotten to know and appreciate Shane’s many talents. His ability to “spin a yarn” is second to know one! The Farini biography could have been staid and stuffy, but that’s not Shane’s style, nor was it Farini’s! Instead the book was a wonderful tail of mystery, intrigue and adventure. Shane’s attention to accuracy and detail is amazing. Since writing the Farini book in 1995, Shane has taken on many other challenges. His play about another Port Hope native, Joseph Scriven who wrote the Hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” played for two seasons at the 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook. Other works have included several children’s novels. His newest are sure to become classis. They are about the “Boy Sherlock Holmes” and are rich in detail and mystery. Although I purchased the first two in the series for my Grandson, I couldn’t miss that opportunity of reading them first myself! They were both a great read and I can’t wait until Shane brings out the next book! It’s great to know that Canada breeds such amazing authors! 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Canadian Raptor Conservancy (Part Two)

After his introduction, James started the show off by bring out one of his birds. At one point he had one of the birds flying overhead and then encouraged it to land on someone’s head… MINE! This was a “close encounter” and it certainly was “PERSONAL”! 

Fortunately, I was wearing a baseball cap so no damage was done to my “delicate” scalp! As the show progresses James talked about each bird, where they came from, what they ate and what they mean to us. He even told us that he was trying to promote the Red-tailed Hawk as Canada’s National Bird! Over the coursed of two years, Judi and I have seen James or his wife, Shauna, demonstrate these magnificent Birds of Prey several times. Each time we have been impressed with James and Shauna’s love and knowledge.

Unfortunately, at least for the time being, the Canadian Raptor Conservancy Birds of Prey can only be seen at shows like the Plowing Match. I hope, some day, that James will open up a permanent location. In the meantime the Conservancy group will travel across Ontario and beyond, educating us all on how precious these Birds of Prey are and how they affect our Eco system and our world! And. Who knows, James’s campaign to have the Red-tailed Hawk become Canada’s National Bird may just succeed! “RED-TAILED HAWK FOREVER!” 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Canadian Raptor Conservancy (Part One)

How many times when you have driven along Highway 401 or one of the other Ontario highways have you seen large birds soaring overhead or sitting high atop a tree? It is definitely a common sight! What kind of birds are they? Eagles, hawks, vultures, falcons? As often as Judi and I have experienced seeing these magnificent creatures, we had never seen them “Up Close and Personal”! That is, until we visited Ontario’s festivals and events! Our first “close encounter” was at the 2007 International Plowing Match held near Smith’s Falls. As we passed through the gate, we immediately noticed a large sign telling us that the Canadian Raptor Conservancy was there and that they were having a “Birds of Prey” demonstration. Judi and I walked over to their show area and stood watching and waiting with other onlookers. Finally, the Conservancy Director, James Cowan, came into the roped off enclosure and started to tell us all about the Conservancy and its birds.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Artists’ Series – Michael Dumas (Part Two)


I guess the time I got to know Michael best was when we were promoting a fundraising program for Canada Parks. Buckhorn Publishing and Michael developed a print program for the “Friends” of Canadian Parks, through their association, the “Canadian Parks Partnership”.  Several of Michael’s art originals had been reproduced into “art print packages”. These packages were going to be sold Canada wide and featured in Park gift stores. The proceeds were going to be donated to the Park Partnership. Since I had been involved with the promotion of the program, I was asked to accompany Michael to Banff, Alberta for the “Grand Unveiling” by the then Minister of Natural Resources. Because of airline pricing rules, Michael and I had stay in Banff a few extra days (a real hardship!). During that time I really got to know Michael and how he functioned as an artist. I can remember taking our rental car on some of the areas back roads. While I was driving, Michael was observing and pointing out various animals and their habitat! He instinctively knew where to look and what to look for! Occasionally he would ask me to stop the car. He would jump out of the car with his camera and take many photos. A number of times he showed me animals tracks that were near invisible to me but obvious to him! The trip certainly made me realize that the creation of a wildlife image was much more then just sitting down to draw! For Michael it has always been much more than that! Observation is second nature to him and his attention to detail is a legendary!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Artists’ Series – Michael Dumas (Part One)


This is a series about Canadian artists I have known and, in some cases, have worked with.

Michael Dumas, to many, is known as an “artist’s artist”. The first time a saw Michael’s art was at the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival (now the Buckhorn Festival of the Arts). Back then I didn’t know much about art or Canadian artists. Judi and I had been invited to visit the festival with friends who lived in Peterborough, and it was our first “ART FESTIVAL”! Little did I know then how involved we would become in the “World of Art”! But that is another story! At the time I was working in Toronto for a real estate relocation company. Judi and I went back to the festival in subsequent years and got to meet many of the participating artists along the way. One of the artists we got to know a little was Michael Dumas. Year’s later I contracted to work for Buckhorn Publishing, Michael’s publisher! It was there that I got to work with and know Michael much better. At first, I was very intimidated, but as I got to talk with Michael, I began to realize that he was not only a fabulous artist, but a wonderful and caring person. The number of organizations that have benefited from his generosity is immeasurable!

To be continued in Part Two...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Aaron Bell – Ojibwa Storyteller

We discovered Aaron Bell at the 2007 Mississauga Waterfront Festival. Judi and I had been exploring the festival’s grounds when we came across Aaron and the White Pines Dancers. Aaron was on stage, in full regalia, preparing for his upcoming performance. The White Pines Dancers were also on stage talking among themselves. The beautiful costumes that they were all wearing fascinated me. I walked up to the stage and asked Aaron when they were going to perform. I thought he was one of the Dancers, so I was surprised when he told me that he was an Ojibwa Storyteller and that he would be performing after the Dancers. We talk for a while about the Ojibwa and their stories. I had a little knowledge about them because of my friendship with Ojibwa artist David Johnson from Curve Lake. Aaron suggested that we come back in about ½ hour for the start of the dance. We did come back and set up our folding chairs near the front of the stage. First came the White Pines Dancers who were introduced by Aaron. Their wonderful costumes certainly added to the drama of the dance! Then it was Aaron’s turn. There were a number of children in the audience and Aaron invited them to come closer to the stage. He then began to tell us many Ojibwa stories and legends! The audience, especially the children, were mesmerized! The whole ensemble, Aaron and the White Pines Dancers was very entertaining and I congratulate the Mississauga Waterfront Festival for bringing them to the festival! Aaron and his friends perform all over Canada and especially enjoy performing for and teaching with children

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Artists’ Series – Eddie LePage

Many of the festivals Judi and I visit feature the art of Canada’s fabulous artists. We have had the pleasure of knowing and working with many of them. They are all different and yet, they all have one thing in common, their passion for their art! To honour our art community, I am going to write about some of the artists I have known and relate a few personal anecdotes about them.

 I am calling it the “Artists Series” and it will run frequently over the next several months. The first artist to be featured is portrait artist, Eddie LePage. Although Eddie is known he his wildlife portraits, his native portraits are outstanding and grace the homes of many collectors. I am starting with Eddie simply because I know him the best. We have been friends for over 20 years! When I was in the custom framing business, he was the first artist to trust me with his framing. This was a big step considering I had just started my own framing company and was a real rookie at it! He liked my ideas and instincts and we formed a great team for many years. With Eddie you always know when spring has arrived because Eddie became hard to reach during the daytime. He was working on his other passion, golf! Eddie starts golfing in the spring and finishes in the fall. He only lets up in August to prepare for the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. Only once have I been able to reach him on the golf course by cell phone and I am pretty sure that was a mistake! I too love golf, but not to the same extent as Eddie. We have golfed together in a few tournaments and when we partner, we almost always win a prize! Believe me this is his doing, not mine! Eddie has a natural talent for both golf and art. The only difference is that he earns his living as an artist! Eddie’s animal and native portrayals are timeless. He captures the essence of each subject he paints. That is why he is one of Bradford Exchange’s best-selling artists and why so many wildlife conservation groups choose his art to use in their fundraising programs. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Shaw Festival… Part Two

Here she unloaded the truck of the car with chairs, a folding table, glasses, cutlery and a picnic basket! She had packed everything before we left without my knowledge (very sneaky!!). She laid the whole picnic out and we sat in our chairs quietly eating our lunch. It was the perfect start for what was to come next! After packing our picnic essentials back into the car, Judi instructed me to drive to the main street and head away from the downtown. She told me to stop and park at the Royal Park Hotel (now the Shaw Club Hotel). Our accommodations had already been reserved and we settled into the hotel to relax for a few hours. Then it was downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant, the Zees Patio and Grill. To say we had a fabulous meal would be an understatement! During the meal I wondered how much better the day could be. I was in for another surprise! I would get better! Right across from out the Royal Park Hotel was the Shaw Festival Theatre. Judi had purchased tickets to the evening performance! Judi told me to follow her. We crossed the road to the theatre and she presented our tickets! What a wonderful day and a fantastic surprise! Our anniversary extravaganza was topped off the next morning with a gourmet breakfast at the Charles Inn!
The whole experience was choreographed by the Shaw Festival and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Working together, along with local businesses, they put together excellent “Getaway Packages”. Ours suited us to a “T”! The Shaw Festival has been an artistic force in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Canada since 1962. The Shaw Festival Foundation, established a year later in 1963, as ensured the Festivals continuation. The Festival was originally set up to as a salute to playwright George Bernard Shaw but now features plays each season by many notable authors. From small beginnings the Shaw Festival is internationally recognized and attended by people from all over the world! The strength of the Shaw Festival is the Shaw Festival Foundation and its members! The membership, through their generous donations, helps the Theatre’s creative team, directors, actors, writers, designers and artisans, sustain their work and their vision. There are several types of memberships available for all budgets. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Shaw Festival… Part One

I think anyone who has ever visited Niagara-on-the-Lake has heard of the Shaw Festival! Judi and I have been visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake for years. We had heard a lot about the Shaw Festival, but never really knew it and what it could offer! 

That is, until Judi decided to give me a surprise anniversary gift! Judi had sold quite a number of her original paintings at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival and had earned some extra money. She decided to spend it on a surprise anniversary present. The present, you guessed it, was a romantic weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake! And, the weekend included tickets to a play at the Shaw! Judi had planned everything and wouldn’t tell me anything! 

This silence even included directions to where we were going! Once we were on the Q.E.W. highway and heading towards Buffalo, it finally dawned on me where we might be going, but I still wasn’t sure and I had no idea what was in store for me! Our destination was the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and once we arrived, Judi instructed me to drive to the main town park. 
Continued in Part Two...

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Getting Into Character…

Judi and I visited the Scugog Shores Museum and their Pioneer Fall Fair. We were impressed with village interpreters and how they assumed the identity of the pioneers they were portraying. It wasn’t just the costumes. It was the little things. The way they spoke. The knowledge they displayed about their tasks and staying within character during conversations with visitors. 

We have visited quite a few re-enactments and pioneer villages and they all seem to attract people who have these characteristics in common! Re-enactors and village interpreters are, in most cases, unpaid volunteers. They do it for the love of history and they have a lot of fun doing it! Just think, they are portraying our forefathers in the heat of summer! No air-conditioned buildings! Dressed in “hot” old fashioned materials! I asked one re-enactor how he coped with the wool uniform he was wearing. He just shrugged and smiled and said “You get use to it after a while!” I wondered what he meant by “after a while”! Did he mean when the leaves started to fall and it was time to stoke up the coals in the fireplace? No matter, these wonderful, dedicated historians continue to keep our past vivid and alive! Thank goodness there are people out there that care so much! 

If anyone reading this article is interested in becoming a village interpreter or re-enactor, the pioneer villages and re-enactment groups are always looking for new volunteers. Just contact your nearest pioneer village and they can steer you in the right direction. Who know, the next time Judi and I visit a pioneer village or re-enactment, we might be snapping a picture of you! If we are, let us know. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Attention Animal Lovers…


It’s amazing how well festivals and animal fit together! I had never really thought about it until I started examining festivals and their common links. The more I thought about, the more I realized how large a part animal played in the majority of festivals Judi and I had visited. Out of the last 10 festivals visited, 7 had had animals’ involvement in one form or another! I’ll quickly go down the list. The Fur Trade Re-enactment at Lang Pioneer Village had a number of farm animals plus a horse drawn wagon ride. The Old Time Fiddle Championships in Shelburne had a number of horses in their parade. The Kingston Sheep Dog Trials was really animal oriented! There were, of course, dogs (Border Collies) and sheep, but they also included 2 horse drawn shuttle wagons, a birds of prey demonstration by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy plus two other animal presentations, one by Jungle Cat World and the other by Little Ray’s Reptiles! The Rural Ramble Farm Tour featured numerous farm animals including cows, pigs, chickens, sheep and horses. At the Fort Henry Sunset Ceremony, the Fort Henry Guard’s mascot is a goat named David IX. The Orono Fair had animals galore, chicken (lot of them!), ducks, rabbits, cows and horses! Finally, at the Dine and Shine in Lang Pioneer village, not only did they have their traditional horse drawn wagon ride, but they had their own unique brush with wildlife! Just as Village Museum Manager, Joe Corrigan, was about to welcome the attendees, a flock of Canada Geese flew over the event giving us all a very loud, but appreciated Canadian “fly-by” (NASCAR eat your hearts out!)! So, if you are an animal lover, Ontario festivals and events are a must for you!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Unplugged…


We have been to a number of events that have had loud sounds, such as an air show, several military re-enactments with cannons, a military band performance and a “Rock” concert. They were all very enjoyable, but to a sensitive ear, loud! 

So, what’s the solution? Ear plugs, of course! The only problem with ear plugs is that they can really mute the sounds, both good and bad. If you are close to a cannon being fired off, good! If you are listening to a really great, but loud, music group, bad! Judi and my older grandson have sensitive ears, so ear plugs work for them, especially at battle re-enactments. I guess it’s a matter of choice and it depends on your “sound pain” threshold. Here is an example of what I mean. Judi and I attended a “Rock” concert in Peterborough. A Rock group called “Sweet” was the featured performance. We had the opportunity to hear them practice in the afternoon, so we knew they were going to be loud at the concert, VERY loud! During the concert we were going to be seated near the stage and loudspeakers. The festival organizer offered each of us ear plugs. We gratefully accepted. Judi was very apprehensive and decided to sit at the back of the park, away from the stage and the loudspeakers! I stayed at the front. The concert opened with a Toronto based group, Hello Operator. Although they were fairly loud, they weren’t “ear plug” loud! Then Sweet took the stage. The sound level went up several decibels! I listened to their first song without the aid of ear plugs.  When they started the second song, it was even louder! I put the ear plugs in! I couldn’t leave them in! They muted the music too much and, after all, I was there to listen to a “Rock” concert! I knew what to expect when it started and I wanted to enjoy “Sweet” and their music! By the end of the concert my ears were buzzing, but I had a great time!

Pardon! I can’t hear you! Did you say something?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Staring Down the Competition…


I always have great fun when I go to a fundraising auction dinner. Most have good basic food and an atmosphere that is happy and festive. But the real fun is people watching! During a “silent” auction it’s fascinating watching people’s strategy! Some people “sneak up” to the bid sheet, look around to see if anyone is looking and then quickly write down their bid. If a bidding number is available, they use it rather then disclosing their name! While some bidders may be “sneaky”, others are “bold”! They walk up to the bid sheet, look around defying anyone to challenge them and then boldly scrawl their name on the sheet! Then they look around again telling anyone who will listen that they will “win” this item! Once an initial bid has been made, most bidders become very possessive when it comes to “their” item! They tell their friends that it’s “theirs”. They jump up when anyone goes near “their” item! If someone has the audacity to bid against them, they become quite defensive even “stock’ the offender in extreme cases. And, if they lose, they become pouty and withdrawn (at least for a little while)! It’s all in great fun and for a worthy cause. Live auctions can be even more entertaining. Many times, it’s like a boxing match! At first “opponents” just spare, checking each other out. They make little bids and then stop as though they are giving up, out of the bidding. Then they start again, bidding in a flurry! Finally, one of them many “throws” the “big”. They step up the bid so high that they “knock” their opponent out of the bidding! Sometime the “big bid” doesn’t knock the opponent out. They just become more stubborn and start to borough in. The bids go higher and higher until someone flinches and a winner is declared! The beautiful thing about this type of bidding is that everyone wins! The audience wins because the “fight” has been great entertainment! The organizers win because the item that was bid on brings a big profit for their cause! The winning bidder wins because he/she won! The losing bidder wins because he/she didn’t! At the end of the evening everyone goes home happy because they know that they have helped a “great cause”!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Best Laid Plans... Part 2


We were fortunate with these two destinations. Both had multiple performances, so if we missed one, we could reschedule. We weren’t so lucky with Canadian Open Fiddle Championships in Shelburne! Even tough the weatherman suggested that there was a possibility of showers, we decided to make the trip to Shelburne. It was an event we really didn’t want to miss! So we packed our car, picked up our 4 year old granddaughter and started off on our 3 hour plus trip. The weather was sunny and bright when we started off. However, as we progress towards our destination the skies grew cloudy and then dark! We were three quarters of the way there, so we were committed. Besides, I am the perpetual optimist. The weather was sure to clear up? When we arrive the rain was coming down in buckets! Undaunted the three of up climb out of our car, bundled up and walked to the main street. Other brave souls we lined up on the street, so we joined them! After a short while, the parade started and it, of course, was a long one! The rain was still pouring down! By the end of the parade we all looked like drowned rats! The rain was letting up a little, but it hadn’t stopped. We headed back to our car. We looked for the other planned activities but could find them. Our guess, since they were outdoor activities, that they were cancelled. Even with all the rain, the parade was great and our granddaughter loved it. There were many puddles to jump in and lots of thrown candy to pick up! It was disappointing to travel that far and not to see the whole event! Oh well, “the best laid plans”!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Best Laid Plans… (Part 1)

Judi and I schedule our festival visits a month or two in advance. We try to visit as many Ontario festivals and events as possible! It is sometimes difficult to keep up our schedule. Rain and thunderstorms are the main cause of cancellations. Once we planned to visit the Peterborough and three times we had to cancel. The first due to illness and the other two due to rain and thunderstorms! The first planned visit was successful and we had a great “rockin’” time! Perseverance, as they say, pays off! Then there was our planned visit to Fort Henry. We made arrangements to visit their famous Tattoo performance. In Cobourg, it was the worst storm of the last 10 years. Record amounts of water fell that day. It was hard to justify a 3-hour trip (there and back) when the chances of the event being cancelled were very high, so we cancelled. It took two attempts to finally visit the Fort. On the second attempt the weather was fantastic as was the Sunset Ceremony that we were privileged to enjoy! 

To be continued in Part 2...

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Economical Travel…


With the high price of gas these days, it’s hard for the “Festival Nomad” to travel inexpensively. Unfortunately, unlike my desert namesakes, I don’t ride (drive) a camel that can go forever on a tank of “water”! Although my vehicle (so the manufacturer says) is fairly gas efficient, it’s not perfect and neither is my driving. I’m like many people, I want to get there yesterday! I usually push the envelop by driving 20 km above the highway speed limit. That is, I did this until a while weeks ago. Judi and I had scheduled a visit to Morrisburg and Upper Canada Village. Taking the 401 Highway, it’s about a 6 hour trip. For this trip I decided to experiment with my speed. As soon as we got in to the highway, I set the cruise control for 103 kms. It was weird being passed by so many people, especially the big 18 wheelers! Yes, it did take us a little longer, but our gas mileage was terrific! I couldn’t believe we had gone so far on so little gas! We did the same on the way back, only this time I opened the windows and turned off the air conditioning. I continue driving at the lower speeds until my gas tank was almost empty. I had increased my mileage per tank by about 40% or in my case by 250 kms. I couldn’t believe the final results! I mentioned my experiment to a car expert friend and he said he wasn’t surprised by the results, although he didn’t think turning off the air conditioner and opening the windows was that helpful. He felt that the air drag caused by open window would offset any cost savings. I continued the experiment on all subsequent travels with similar results! My experiment has now turned into a way of life (driving that is)! So if you are still driving fast, “honk” as you pass me!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Magic of Cameras! Part 2


Now, having a camera is one thing, using it properly is another! I am still a big amateur in this area, especially when trying to take video shots. A few months ago I had the great idea to include video clips in my Ontario Festivals Visited (www.ontariofestivalsvisited.ca) articles. I thought that this would add a new dimension to my depiction of the festivals and events Judi and I visit. The problem is. I still haven’t mastered keeping my hands still as I am videoing. To make matters worse, my zooming in and out isn’t consistent and I’m having problems focusing long distance shots! I know I will improve over time, but it is frustrating because I want everything to be perfect! My other camera “Challenges” include forgetting to take the camera lens cap off before shooting, forgetting to change the shooting modes from still to movie and my favourite, trying not to tip over when videoing fast moving aerobatic airplanes at an air show, especially when they are traveling at Mach 3! 
This happened at the Canadian Aviation Expo during their air show. I was videoing three- time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, Patty Wagstaff. I was doing fine until Patty came over us at full speed. I was so caught up in videoing her I almost toppled over. If my son-in-law hadn’t been there to catch me, I would have fallen straight on to my behind! I did get some great shots though! Photographing can be a dangerous business! 
So, if you see someone fiddling with their camera at a festival, it’s probably me! If you know anything about cameras, stop and say hello and then HELP ME!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The “Magic’ of Cameras! Part 1


The worst thing that could happen to the “Festival Nomad” is to forget his camera! Now I know that you are probably saying “Boy, what a big baby!” Perhaps that’s true, but my camera is my crutch! I use it as my ears and my memory. Since I write most of my articles a few weeks after Judi and I visit an event, I use the photos to “jog” my memory of what I saw and heard. Without my camera, I would be lost or. At least, severely hampered.

I always pack my “festival kit” the night before. It includes business cards, notes about the festival or event we are visiting, a festival evaluation sheet and my camera, with batteries (can’t run the camera without batteries – 4). By the way, never give any of your spare batteries to anyone without replacing them. I gave my daughter two batteries and then forgot to replace them. At the next event I went to I needed four new batteries and I only had two. Fortunately it was near the end of the event some I didn’t need to take many more photos. If it had have been early, It could have been a disaster!

To Be Continued ~ Part 2