Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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. 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).

(To be continued in Part Two)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Getting Into Character…

Some time ago, 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 used 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. We will make sure the photo ends up in one of the articles we are writing.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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 animals played in the majority of the festivals that Judi and I had visited. Out of the 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 Museum, 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, November 30, 2017

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 is 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 than 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 “throw” the “big bid”. 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”!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Best Laid Plans…

Judi and I schedule our festival visits a month or two in advance. We have been trying to visit as many Ontario communities and their festivals and events as possible! Past years have made it particularly difficult to keep up our schedules. Rain and thunderstorms have been the main cause of cancellations.
One year, we had planned, three times, 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 final planned visit was successful and we had a great “rockin’’” time! Perseverance paid 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! 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 though 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 puddle 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”!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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 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 20km above the highway speed limit. That is, I did this until a few weeks ago. Judi and I had scheduled a visit to Morrisburg and Upper Canada Village. Taking the 401 Highway, it’s about a 3 hour trip. This trip I decided to experiment with my speed. As soon as we got in to the highway I set the cruise control for 103kms. 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 250kms. I couldn’t believe the final results! I mentioned my experiment to a car expert friend and he said he wasn’t surprised be the results, although he didn’t think turning off the air conditioner and opening the windows was 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!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The “Magic’ of Cameras! (Part Two)

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 Visited Adventure articles. I thought that this would add a new dimension to my depiction of the communities 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!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The “Magic’ of Cameras! (Part One)

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 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 community or event we are visiting, recording equipment and my cameras, with batteries (can’t run recording equipment and cameras without batteries). 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! Now I only carry rechargeable batteries and I don’t “lend” them to anyone! Of course, I still have to remember to take them with me!

(Continued… Part Two)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dead Men Talking!

Over the few years Judi and I have visited a number of military re-enactments. They are great fun to see and experience! The sound of the cannons being fired and the smell of gunpowder all add to the adventure! Most of these re-enactments take place during the hot summer months and many of the re-enactors wear stifling wool uniforms. It makes me hot and sweaty just thinking about it! The re-enactors attention to detail is legendary. Everything has to be perfect, true to the period they are depicting. Walking through one of their encampments, you can actually visualize yourself being back in time! On the battlefield it is even more captivating. You can feel the intensity of the battle! Guns firing, smoke filling the air, soldiers marching and officers shouting orders, advances and retreats, all for the sake of authenticity! As the battle progresses, soldiers begin to fall as though they have been shot! They lie there as their comrades walk over them! The sun scorches their fallen bodies! Truly “in the heat of the battle”! There is so much happening; it’s hard to take it all in! Who notices that some of the “dead” have dragged themselves to the shade of the “old oak tree”? Who can tell that there are “dead men talking”!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!! (Part Two)

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that Judi and I visit a lot of festivals and events throughout the year. Unfortunately some of the visited festivals don’t offer “good value for money spent”.  Even though many of the festivals we visit don’t change an admission fee, that doesn’t mean they are offering good value. I’m not just talking about the cost of admission. I’m talking about the other costs, gas to get there, parking, food, products, midway, etc. We, as festival and event consumers, should expect and demand “good value”! Most festivals and events are organized and run by hard working, well intentioned volunteers. They want to do their best, but they are not professionals! Most groups do what they have always done! It’s easier that way! We need to make festival managers, volunteers or not, more accountable for what they are offering and how they inform and train their volunteers. We can do this by giving festival and event organizers constructive feedback. Most festivals and events have contact information on their websites. If they don’t, that’s a great place for them to start improving! If, after giving an event your feedback and you still feel negatively, you have the final “hammer”. Just don’t go back to the event plus you can tell your friends and family about your negative experiences. If enough people boycott the event, its organizers will soon get the picture!  The economy is going through a “readjustment” period now and all businesses (profit and non-profit) should re-evaluate their operation. Those that don’t, likely won’t last. It’s up to us, the “festival consumer”, to join the “fight” and “help” organizers go in the “right’ direction After all, we deserve “good value for hard earned money spent”!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!! (Part One)

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about “value for money spent”. This is especially true for the cost of gas! Why are gas prices so high and why, as consumers, are we accepting it? When you go to a “service station” there, usually, is no service! We pump our own gas, check our own oil and fill our windshield wiper fluid. So all we are paying for is the gas and the equipment that dispenses the gas. I guess we have now all accepted this as the “norm”. It now seems to be creeping into all aspects of our lives. When you go into many Supermarkets and Big Box store you almost have to beg for service! Their justification seems to be lower prices. The pendulum went from perhaps too much service to very little. With the economy on the downturn, the pendulum seems to be swinging back. So, after this “longwinded” introduction, here is my point. If we, as consumers, ban together, we can make a difference and we can cause change. We can start a mini revolution and start demanding better service, competitive prices and better products. Let’s face it, we control the purse strings. We decide where and when we are going to spend our hard earned money! It’s time to fight back, so “let’s get ready to rumble”!

(More “Rumble” in Part Two)

Friday, October 6, 2017

It’s The Little Things…

In Elmvale, our first “Nomad Festival”, at their annual Maple Syrup Festival, it was the taste of local real maple syrup!
While traveling with my Grandson to the Antique and Classic Boat Show, it was stopping along the way at a trading post and being given two free containers of “Nibs” chocolate ice cream pieces.
Then there was the very interesting genealogy store located in the picturesque village of Campbellville that we discovered on our way to the Waterloo County Quilt Festival.
In Perth, at the Festival of Maples, there was the wonderful Matheson House Museum located on Perth’s main downtown street.
One Fall during our Colours ‘n Crows (unfortunately no longer running) tour in Buckhorn, we marveled at the fall colours and the views across Pigeon Lake.
Colborne’s Apple Blossom Tyme Festival produced a special treasure for Judi at their Library book sale. Judi found a book she had been searching and paid only $2.00!
The jousting contest the Gregor’s Crossing Medieval Faire (again, unfortunately no longer running) took my breath away when the two Knights faced each other with lowered lances.

During our trips we saw amazing farms, beautiful scenes, interesting architecture and quaint rural towns and villages! All wonderful memories! Being a “Festival Nomad” certainly has its advantages!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Sense of Community…

One of the great things about being a “Festival Nomad” is being able to visit unique rural communities! Over the years, we have had the privilege of visiting a 100’s of such communities. Our first festival took us to Elmvale. This is a small town located northwest of Barrie. They host a wonderful Maple Syrup Festival each spring and attract thousands of people to it! Colborne was our next rural experience. Colborne, located just east of Cobourg, is the home of the Old Tyme Apple Blossom Festival. Judi was able to find a few “treasured” books in the book sale that was held in their town park! Other great rural communities followed, Frankford (located on the Trent-Severn Waterway), Gravenhurst (in the heart of Muskoka), Warkworth (where we discover that Cowboys and Cowgirls do exist in Ontario!), Smith’s Falls (where chocolate filled the air), Buckhorn many times!), Wellington (a great retirement community), Bala (where the street on a fall weekend are lined with Cranberry products) and Waterford (where the pumpkins glow in the dark and people’s homes are decorated to match the theme of their festival).
There were, of course, more, many more, but I think you understand what I am trying to convey. While big cities may be the engine of our economy, rural communities and their residents are the “heart and soul” of our province. They represent what most of us would like to achieve in life, “peace, quiet and a sense of community”!

My own town, Thornbury, gives Judi and I this sense of well-being. I hope you find or have found your own “heart and soul”!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

If You Can’t Trust The Weatherman… (Part Two)

At approximately 8:25 PM the rain had stopped and organizers were starting to set up the battle area. At 8:45 PM, the battle had begun! People had flocked to the beach to see the battle. We stayed to then of the re-enactment then started on our trip home. Was it worth the time and wait, you bet it was, but no thanks to the weatherman!
The next day we went to the Canadian Aviation Expo in Oshawa (Note: it was moved to Waterloo, but I think it’s now been cancelled permanently). This event included an air show that was scheduled to start at 3:00 PM. It was like “déjà vu” all over again! The weather was sunny and warm (just like the weatherman said)! At 3:00 PM the announcer told us that the show was good to go. There was a little dark cloud off to the west, no problem! The air show started. Two of the scheduled participant completed their flybys. Then the announcer came back on the PA to tell us that the show had been suspended for one hour and that we should all take cover in the buildings (déjà vu). Once again we debated and waited. Finally, at a little after 4:00 PM, the air show started again. The first performance went off without a hitch. The second performers, 4 Harvards, took off to darkening skis. They just finished landing when the announcer once again came on the PA system and declared that the remainder of the air show was cancelled! We had just enough time to reach our car before the heavens open and the heavy rains came!

Did the weatherman really mess up this weekend or was it the “Weather Gods” just having a little “fun” at our expense?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

If You Can’t Trust The Weatherman… (Part One)

If you can’t trust the weatherman, who can you trust?

We visited two different events. One was in the south western part of Ontario, Port Dover and the other was in Central Ontario, Oshawa. The first festival we visited was the Marine Heritage Festival (retired) in Port Dover. The drove three hours to attend! The festival included a marine/military re-enactment on the shores of Lake Erie. This was the main event we wanted to see. Acquaintances had told us that last year’s re-enactment was exceptional, so we were really looking forward to this year’s event! The battle re-enactment was scheduled for twilight (8:30 PM). The whole day was mainly sunny and how (as forecasted). About 7:00 PM we walked to the beach with our lawn chairs to settle in and wait for the battle. We set up our chairs on the beach. The sun was still shinning and the lake was quite calm. About 7:30 PM event organizers came onto the beach and staked out the battle area. We moved our chairs back behind the “Caution Tape”. We had just settled into our chairs when we noticed a dark cloud across the lake! Then there was thunder and lightning! Then the winds started and the temperature dropped! Waves started to roll in and the wind began to blow harder! Finally the dark cloud was over us and the rain started! Someone shouted that everyone should take cover! We ran for our car and made it just in time before the heavy rains started! The time was now about 7:45 PM. We sat in the car debating whether or not the battle re-enactment would take place and should we start now on our long drive home. I felt that it was worth waiting as we had driven so far just to see the main battle, so we waited! 

(To be Continued…)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Back to the Future…

Over the years, we have been able to visit a number of Pioneer Villages and Re-enactments. In doing so, Judi and I have not only had an enjoyable time, but we have learned a lot of about the history of Canada and its pioneers.
Our first encounter with the past was at the “Battle of Stoney Creek”. This was a re-enactment of the 1813 battle that took place in Stoney Creek between the British and the Americans. At the re-enactment we saw the British encampment, browsed the merchant tents and witnessed a “mock” battle. Along the way we learned about Canadian and United States relationships and our respective histories.
Our next journey back in time was to the Black Creek Pioneer Village. As we wandered through the Village we were able to investigate the fascinating historical buildings and watch as Village interpreters told or showed us who our forefathers lived and survived.
These were followed by visits the Queen’s Park to see democracy at work in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Then it was Lang Pioneer Village for their Christmas by Candlelight. In Perth we visited the elegant Matheson House. Here we could catch a glimpse of the life and times of an 1840’s family.
A while ago we traveled to Keswick to the Georgina Pioneer Village. They were featuring a re-enactment of the Rise to Rebellion. This is where William Lyon MacKenzie in 1837 tried to incite Canadians to throw off British rule.
We visited Chatham one year and witnessed the Gregor’s Crossing Medieval Faire (no longer run). Knights competed against one another for the favour of a fair maiden.
And then there were a Naval and Military encampment and battle in Port Dover and a military re-enactment at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg?

The past is definitely our future! (See Ontario Heritage Visited at for articles about our Heritage Adventures.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fun and Games…

I like to go to festivals and events that have a lot of action and have interesting things to do and see! Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy art and craft shows. I really appreciate the talent and effort that goes into creating works of art, but ultimately I like action. The McCann Super Dog Show is a great example. Watching these wonderful animals perform near impossible tricks catches my attention. Judging by the number of people who turn out to watch these shows, I know I am not alone. Then there is the West Coast Lumberjack Show. This show is not only exciting; it is filled with zany humour! A while ago I was at the Toronto International Circus Festival. The aerialist show was dangerous and spectacular! Three talented aerialists manipulated their bodies on thin ribbons of cloth, thrilling the crowd below! The Gregor’s Crossing Medieval Faire was the most awe inspiring event we have seen so far! Four Knights compete in various medieval games, trying to out-best each other. The culminating event was the joust. This event is not for the faint of heart. Here the combatants go head to head in a REAL joust. Yes, they are protected by armor, but the lances are real and each Knight wants to best the other to win the event. Knight against Knight, charging towards each other at great speeds with their lances lowered! As they reach each other and make contact, splinters of wood fly everywhere! One Knight was hit by a lance on his helmet and got knocked off his horse. He lay there for quite some time recovering! Fortunately he wasn’t badly hurt, but it was definitely breath taking for the audience. Like I have said before, we enjoy and visit all kinds of festivals and events and we don’t deliberately seek action filled festivals, but it is great when we do find them!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Not To Wear…

Judi and I were traveling from an event and started talking about clothing. The conversation was not about how each other looked. It was about how many times we had gone to a festival wearing inappropriate clothing! Over this past year or so, we have definitely had our share of “What not to wear”!
There was time when we visited the Shelter Valley Folk Festival. We had parked our car in a farmer’s field. The field had just been freshly cut so there were lots of sharp edges! For some reason Judi had decided to wear sandals (she never wears sandals!) and the sharp edges really cut into her feet! Lesson learned!
Then there was the time that I visited the Brighton Winterfest. I decided to wear a pair of cotton pants and deck shoes. The weather was supposed to be sunny and reasonably warm for that time of year. It started off that way. Unfortunately it didn’t continue that way, and once I had reached Brighton large flakes on snow were falling! One of the festival’s events was snowmobile racing at the Brighton Speedway. This is where the snow really started to fall! There I was, the lowly “Festival Nomad” sitting in the stands with cotton pants and deck shoe, surrounded by “winter” people all dressed in heavy parkas and warm snowmobile boots! As the snow continued to fall, I am sure I started to look like a giant snowman!!

You would have thought a reasonably intelligent man would have learned a valuable lesson, but not the “Nomad”, lesson NOT learned! A few weeks later Judi and I visited the Ajax Winterfest. You guessed it; I was wearing the same cotton pants and deck shoes! Although it wasn’t snowing, it was extremely cold and it had just snowed the night before. I am sure I must have posed quite the figure as we tramped through the snow following other festival visitors who were wearing snow boots or snowshoes! I had to follow in their tracks so that I wouldn’t have to break a new path in the deep snow. As it was snow managed to sneak into my shoes causing a wet crunchy feeling next to my socks! Lesson FINALLY learned???!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Getting There (Part Two)…

Fortunately, this time I followed Judi’s advice and turned right. We followed Hwy. #48, passing the “Sutton this way” sign and headed south towards Toronto. A few kilometers south of Sutton we saw a sign saying “this way to Keswick”. We turned right and followed the sign’s directions! We eventually came to Woodbine Avenue and another “Keswick” sign. We turned right again and this time drove straight in to downtown “Keswick”. From there it was easy to find the re-enactment! It was being held at the Georgina Pioneer Village which was part of the Georgina Community Centre complex. The way to this complex is very well marked, we couldn’t go wrong! The sad ending to this story for the “know-it-all Festival Nomad” is that if we had turned left in Jackson’s Point, as Judi had suggested, we would have driven directly to the complex and the re-enactment. We would have arrived a half hour earlier and would have saved a quarter tank of gas! The moral –
“The Nomad isn’t (sigh) always right, but his trusty side kick (Scoop Judi) is!”
UPDATE ~ I wrote this Blog article a number of years ago. Since then GPS devices have taken over the directional thought process. It’s a “sure” way of getting to you final destination… well, MAYBE not so “sure”! One Christmas, my daughter and her husband gave us a GPS device. We were so happy to have it that we named it LUCY, after Schultz’sknow-it-all” cartoon character. All was going well with “LUCY” until I programmed if to find a route to Creemore. LUCY seemed to start off right until we got deep into a forested road. All of a sudden, in the middle of the forest she told us to “turn right” We entered a road that was a “Dead-end”. As we stopped, LUCY announced that we had “Reached Our Destination”! Creemore, my friends, is NOT located in the middle of a “forest” on a “dead-end” road! We started out again, this time with Scoop Judi navigating the route and we successfully found our way to the “real” Creemore. To “punishLUCY, I put her in the car’s “glove box” while Judi (me navigation hero) and went into the town’s great bakery for a coffee and goodie.

I think that this punishment might have taught LUCY a lesson, because she didn’t “mess up” again!
"Coffee & Goodies Galore!"

Friday, August 11, 2017

Getting There (Part One)…

As I have said before, getting there can be half the fun! I hadn’t been to Keswick in many years. This was where the “Rise to Rebellion” re-enactment was going to take place, and Judi and I wanted to be part of it. Rather than drive the boring highways, we (I) decided to take the back roads to Keswick. In the past, any time I had traveled to Keswick I had taken Hwy. #48 from Toronto straight to Keswick, no problems! Being the “Festival Nomad”, I, of course, know all the correct route to get to any Ontario festival or event!!?? With this confidence, Judi and I set out for Keswick and the re-enactment. All was going well, the sun was shining and the roads were clear of traffic, so what could go wrong? Nothing, until we turned from Hwy #12 onto Hwy #48. This is where I encountered my first “Brain Lapse”! I assumed (you know what that means!) that we were south of Keswick. Imagine my surprise and concern when signs started telling me that we were heading “SOUTH” to Toronto! It couldn’t be! I pulled over onto the shoulder of the road and stopped the car! I took my road map out to see where we were! No help! I turned the car around and started to retrace our steps! Then I got “cold feet”, I turn around again and headed “SOUTH”! One of the signs that I had seen earlier had said “this way to Keswick”! I decided to trust the signs and not my brain! At each indecision, Judi just “sighed”! We continued traveling “SOUTH”! This is where my second “brain lapse” took place! I mistook “Sutton” for “Keswick”. Don’t ask me why, I just did! I turn down the road that said “this way to Sutton”. We traveled through Sutton towards Jackson’s Point. I was sure we were on the right track! When we reach Jackson’ Point there was a “T” in the road. Judi suggested that we should turn left. I confidentially said “no, we should go right”. We turned right, followed the road and eventually came back to Hwy #48. We had just traveled in a big (scenic!) circle! Now I was REALLY lost!
(To be continued - Part Two
"Which way to the Rebellion?"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Life in the Midway…

Every time I visit a festival that features a midway, I am transported back to my childhood! These memories are quite vivid as midways played a large part in my past. My first recollections of a Midway are of the long gone “Sunnyside” which was located in Toronto along the Lakeshore west of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds. I can remember, as a little boy, being taken there by my parents. I was allowed to ride the kid’s rides by myself, but I think the biggest thrill was climbing into the bumper car s with my mother. I’m not sure who had more fun. She loved crashing into other drivers and encouraged me to help her! Later on, when I was allowed to drive by myself, my mother would still climb into a bumper car herself. It was always a challenge to see who could out bump who! I think my mom likely won more times then she lost! Another wonderful Midway memory, was at the CNE. As a youth, my friends and I were allowed to visit the CNE on our own. The excitement of trying to win a big stuffed animal as the barkers yelled out “You ring one, you win one!”: the challenge of riding as many thrill rides as possible to the loud pulsating music and the determination to outsmart the age and weight guessers even though they could win any time they wanted to, all added to the mystic and charm of the Midway. And then there was the “FLYER”! It had been a feature of the CNE forever and it attracted kids, big and small! We all tried to see who could ride the longest with our hands held over our heads. We always fought to get the front car! It was the scariest position of all, and the most fun! When I see the excitement in the faces of today’s kids enjoying a Midway, I see myself. I hear my mother say “Have a great time, be careful and I’ll meet you at the Bingo Hall when you are through”.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Soap Box Derby Racing…

The wind in your hair! The sun beating down on your face! The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! This time we were at the Frankford Riverfest. We had walked past a stack of hay bales to the finish line.
The Frankford Riverfest Soap Box Derby was about to begin. You could see the excitement on the faces of the Moms and Dads as they waited for their sons or daughters to come charging down the hill! All the hours of hard work building and designing the definitive Soap Box were coming down to this! This is a scene that is typical of most of the Soap Box Derbies we have visited. The determination in the eyes of the racers, no matter how young or old is always there! I can remember one race that we visited where two racers were coming down the hill side by side. Suddenly the wheels of the racer on the left started to wobble! Others in the crowd saw it too! You could see the determination of the young girl as she fought to regain control! Try as she might, the Soap Box finally took over and veered off course and ran into the hay bales at the side of the road! There was panic in the eyes and voices of the on looking crowd. No one knew if the driver was okay. Two paramedic, who had been stationed part way down the hill, rushed to the accident site! After refusing the paramedics help, the girl stood up, shook the hay off her clothes, pulled the Soap Box back onto the road, climbed in and continued down the course to the finish line! The crowd cheered and applauded the girl’s efforts and where grateful that the racer had survived the crash!

Such is the world of Soap Box Derby racing where little heroes are made!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Where to Go… What to Do…

As I have mentioned previously, Judi and I plan, each year to visit 50 or so Ontario communities and their festivals, events and attractions! To put that into perspective, we have 52 weeks to visit 50+ communities and events. That means we have to average 1 visit per week over the 52 weeks! So much for the math!
Here’s our dilemma, most festivals and events take place during the summer and fall months. That means there are a lot to choose from during those months and we have had a great number of requests from festival and event organizers to visit their events. There are so many great and interesting festivals and events, it’s hard to decide which ones to visit! The problem is, we want to visit them all! But, of course, we can’t, so we have to make some choices. In doing this we have to take into consideration timing (month-day-times) and distance. Distance is important because, if we need to visit more than one event (community) per week, logistics can be a challenge.
Fortunately, Judi and I having been traveling and visiting Ontario communities and their events for over 10 years, so we now have METHOD to our MADNESS! Our planning process is now simple, especially since we started to present our “Oh Canada Eh! Game”. We just look for communities where we have not produced an “Oh Canada Eh! Game”. If they have an interesting attraction or event, so much the better! Judi’s and my ongoing philosophy is that our trips and visits must be enjoyable. Frankly, if we don’t enjoy where we go, how can we tell our website visitors… “Where to go and what to do”?
Hope to see you down the road!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tasty Festivals…

Judi and I love to visit festivals. I think some of our most favourites involve fruit and fruit themes! I am always interested in seeing how festival organizers incorporate “fruit themes” into their festival plans. Some are more imaginative then others. Take for example the Bala Cranberry Festival held each fall. Everywhere you looked the fruit was present. There were cranberry booths dotted amongst most of the festival’s attractions and activities. Each booth offered a variety of different cranberry products. The biggest attraction, however, at the festival was the Johnson’s Cranberry Farm. To get to it you had to drive a little out of down, but then again, who wants a cranberry marsh in the middle of town! Once we were at the farm there was a lot to see and do. To find out more, log onto our Bala Cranberry Festival article (click here to see article -  We were amazed at what their farm store offered! Here is just a small sampling of the products we saw: wines (there were too many different types to count!), juices and jams (many different combinations); chocolates (too yummy for words!), candles (a variety of scents) and the list goes on!
Unfortunately for me, I am not that fond of cranberries, but Judi is! Peaches on the other hand, present a much different story! I am a peach fanatic, especially peach pie! Last summer we visited the Winona Peach Festival (click to read article - In the centre of the festival grounds is a large “Food Court”. Almost every booth offered different kinds of peach foods, pies cobblers, ice cream and on. The beautiful thing about this festival and its “Food Court” is that all the food vendors are run and manned by local charities, church groups, service clubs and sports associations. This translates into fresh “homemade” food! Now I know that you all know that the “Festival Nomad” is very community oriented and that if I can help out the community we are visiting I will. So, it should come of no surprise when you hear that I decided to support one of the fine community groups! The “homemade” peach pie being sold by the ladies church group got my support! I purchased a big juicy piece of freshly baked peach pie from them! As I ate it, my community spirits rose to a new high!

Now, all I have to do is to find a “BANANA” Festival!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

“A Funny Thing Happened…”

One of the perks of visiting festivals is people watching! It is always interesting to see how people react to different situations. In a way it’s like being a “fly on the wall”. Music concerts seem to bring out the best (or worst) in people. The Beaches Jazz Festival is a perfect example of this. There was one lady was really thrilled by the music. She decided that the music would be great to dance to… alone! She went down to the front of the stage and started to dance up a storm. She made moves that I didn’t know the human body could make! She was in a world of her own and it was fascinating to watch!
Then there was the little girl at another music festival. There was a lively band playing on the main band shell stage. In front of the main stage a lower stage had been set up for an earlier Celtic dance demonstration. The lower stage was empty when the band first started to play. Part way through their first song, a little girl ran from the audience and climbed onto the stage and then started to dance to the music. The audience and band loved it! The little girl beamed as the audience showed their appreciation! She was such a hit that other children emerged from the audience and ran to the stage. Each climbed onto it and started to dance. The original little girl was upset that others had joined her that she stopped dancing, stomped off the stage and ran to her parents crying. Apparently she didn’t like to share the spot light. The other children danced on undisturbed!
Animals also create good people watching material. One year when we were at the International Plowing Match, the first attraction we came to was the Canadian Raptor Conservancy Show. There were two handlers who brought out different birds to show the crowd. Some of the birds would fly off one handlers arm, fly over the crowd and then land on the other handlers arm. The sheer delight (terror) on the audience was great to see! Imagine MY surprise when one of the birds swooped down from its flight and landed on MY HEAD!! The tables were turned! I was the one who was being WATCHED!

"Fortunately the bird that landed on my head was a Kestrel ~ much smaller then the above bird, but still, a cousin!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Parking Lottery…

Here’s an idea, I think really busy festivals and events should offer to sell potential attendees “Parking Lottery” tickets. This way one would at least have a chance for a decent parking spot.
 Whenever we go to a busy festival or event, it’s always a challenge to find a convenient parking spot! I can’t tell you how many times we have driven around for what seems like hours and miles to find a decent spot. It’s very frustrating. The was one time when I drove all the way to Toronto only to drive around for over an hour trying to find a spot that wasn’t miles away. Finally after much driving and looking I gave up and drove home. But don’t feel too sorry for the “old Nomad”. I have had some incredible luck too!
Take the time I drove, again, to Toronto. This time it was to the Beaches Jazz & Blues Festival. Now, for any of you who have visited the Beaches area, you will know that finding a parking spot even at non-peak times is an adventure! So here we were on a busy Saturday morning during the largest event of the year. We entered the Beaches area from Woodbine and turn east onto Queen Street. Traffic was at a crawl! The festival was taking place at Kew Beach. Slowly we edged our way along Queen Street. After what seemed like hours we reached the festival park. Just opposite was a street running north. As I looked up the street I saw an empty spot. I blinked, I could believe my eyes. I thought it must be a no parking zone! I am sure everyone else who saw the spot thought the same! I turned anyway. It wasn’t much of a spot, but it wasn’t in a “no parking” zone. With the help of my passengers, I edged my way into the spot. We were good for the day and legally parked!
We were lucky this day, but as I have said, more times than not we have driven around in circles trying to find a spot. Some of the more thoughtful events provide off-site parking plus a shuttle service (good for them!) but for those who don’t, a “parking lottery” just might work. And it could rise to few “bucks” to boot! There is, of course, a downside to a lottery. They would have to deal with those who paid good money and didn’t win! I would want to be the one to tell them that they still had to drive around for hours!

So, okay, maybe a “parking lottery” isn’t such a great idea after all. Happy festivaling (new word I just made up!) and remember the Festival Nomad’s mantra “DO I FEEL LUCKY TODAY”!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

“Bury All Your Horses…”

When I was a kid, traveling distances with my family, we use to play all sorts of games to pass time. These days the kids play with video games, watch DVD’s or listen to their iPod, but back in my day we only had each other for entertainment! My Mom and Dad had a number of games they used to use to keep us occupied and make the journey seem shorter! Some of the games we played included: “I spy with my little eye something that begins with…”,I packed my bag and in it I put…” and “Name that tune…”. Perhaps my favourite was “Bury all your horses…”. This is a game where you find and count all the horses you see on your side of the car. The object is to see who has counted the most horses at the end of the game! One catch! If a cemetery is passed on your side and the other players see it and call out “Bury all your horses!!” you lose the count and have to start all over again. A tricky game, but a lot of fun. Judi and I play variation where you can only lose 10 horses at a time! Speaking of Judi and games, she tells me that when she and her sisters where kids they use to play board games to reduce the monotony of long drives. One game in particular that they use to play was “Clue”. It seems incredible that Judi was able to win (or lose) at will!! I told how great that was until she told me that she use to mark the Clue cards and knew right from the start of the game who the murderer was, what room and with what weapon!! I don’t think her sisters or parents knew until later in life! With all the long distances we drive today, we still use games to pass the time! However, I refuse to play, with Judi, anything involving cards!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A “Dog Day Afternoon”!!

Every once in a while we come across a funny situation when we visit a festival or event. But, when we come across two at the same event, it’s something to write about! This past fall we went on an artists’ studio and gallery tour. We traveled all over scenic Prince Edward County. After much time and mileage, we reached our final destination, the Town of Picton. Picton is a picturesque town located in the southern part of Prince Edward County. It is especially busy during the summer and fall months. It was towards the end of the day and we had only a little viewing time left to see a few more participating artists. Many of the artists we visited during the tour had their studios in their homes. The artist (who’s studio was in his home) we were about to visit was located in the south eastern residential section of Picton. After winding our way through a number of residential streets, we finally located his home. The artist was on the grass in front of his home sitting at his easel. He gave us a friendly welcome and showed us what he was working on. He then suggested that we enter his home to view his work. At the front door we were greeted by his wife. She directed us upstairs to the artist’s studio/gallery. Upstairs we were met by their son who was in charge of the gallery. After looking around and admiring the works of art we took our leave and headed downstairs and out to the front lawn. We looked to say goodbye to our host and found that he and the family dog were fast asleep on the ground. It must have been a long day! Our last image was dog and master raising their heads bidding us a goodbye. The next artist’s (a carver) studio we wanted to visit was located on a nearby street. We found his home and parked our car. We walked up to the house and went in. We were greeted by the artist’s wife who told us to take our time looking at the carvings that were placed around the living and dining rooms. As we were about to leave, our hostess suggested that if we wanted to see her husband at work we could go outside to the garage located at the side of the house. The garage had been converted into the carver’s workshop. We love to see artists and artisans at work, so we took the trip up the side of the house to the workshop. The door was open so we walked in. YOU GUESSED IT! Here was the carver, chisel in hand, fast asleep in his rocking chair! We quietly backed out of the workshop so as not to disturb him. This was not the kind of working we were used to seeing! Judging by the last two artists, it must have been a very busy day!!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You Want to Drive Where?!

This is a question that almost breeds as much terror, when asked, “You Want to Leave When”! I am not only a “time” coward; I am also a “distance” coward. It’s not that Judi is a tyrant. It’s just that she likes her sleep. If getting up too early cuts into her sleep time, you’d think that a long distance drive would be perfect! No, it’s just the opposite. Judi likes to be a “co-driver”. No, she does not want to drive herself, she just wants to “help”. This means being awake all the way!

Choosing the right event to visit is important. On any given weekend there are lots of events to choose from. You can visit our ONTARIO EVENT DIRECTORY (Click HERE for link) for a comprehensive list of festivals, events, fairs, heritage sites, attractions and communities to explore. It’s a daunting task to choose the right one.

In planning our own “Ontario Adventures”, we want our “Nomadic” wanderings to take us throughout Ontario. We want to visit different Ontario communities (large and small) along the way. And, we want to experience as many different types of festivals and events as possible! Since I was elected (Judi had the only vote!) to choose the events to visit, I have to take all these variables into consideration. That means the visits can’t all be local! Once I have made my choice, I have to inform the other half of the team (Judi) where we are going. If it is a short distance, it’s not a problem. Remember, distance = time (to leave). However, when it’s a long distance, say 2 – 3 hours, that a much different story. I get the “stare”. I feel like a “12 year old” reporting to the principal’s office. She asks me to explain where exactly it is. I try to tell her, but my answer normally trite, like “Try thinking of this trip as a great adventure!” or “Half the fun is getting there!” She normally doesn’t “BUY” my explanation, and just grits her teeth and says “When are we going?” Like a true “Nomad”, I love to travel (in a car, not on a Camel). It relaxes me! I can drive for hours without a break, so it’s hard for me to understand. The funny part is that once we arrive Judi has a great time. That’s what makes us a great team, I love to get there and she loves to be there!

Once we finish the visit everything is back to normal… that is until I tell her that there is a great festival in “Timiskaming” that I want us to visit! She is not amused!