Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Shear Pleasure…

I am not sure that I would want to be a “show” animal! On one hand you have “show” dogs. They are creatures of comfort and pampering. Before they perform, they are bathed and groomed. They get manicures, massages and the best food available. Nothing is too good for “Poochie”! While they are performing they get little “treats” in between tricks! It’s no wonder they look so pleased and happy in the show ring, wagging their tails madly, jumping up and down just for “shear” enjoyment! They are happy and content. On the other hand there are “show” sheep. First of all their owners let their hair grow long and shaggy” (the “sheep”, not the “human”). Grass and twigs pepper their matted hair. They are then, not looking their best, trucked off to the “show”. On arrival they are immediately herded from the truck into a group by none other than a “dog”! If one of them decides to be independent, some bossy “dog” starts nipping at its heels. But, my festival friends, this isn’t the worst of it! One by one they are split from the rest of the flock by, whom else, the “dog” and herded into a holding pen. From here the owner takes each one unceremoniously and thrusts it between his legs. Thus held, the “shearing” begins. The poor creature is twisted and turned until this once beautiful fluffy “bohemian” becomes a “scrawny hairless runt”! Where is the “dignity” you might well ask? There is no dignity, only “shear terror” After the shearing, the humiliation continues! Each is shepherded, by dog, back to the herd, there to describe to his friends his nakedness! The “dog”, when threw, runs back to his master, tail wagging and jumping for joy, knowing how much he is appreciated. It certainly proves the old saying “It’s a DOG’S LIFE”! However, I think I would rather be a sheep, who needs all that “pampering”!!! 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lost Time…

A few weeks ago “Daylight Savings Time” started. Like the conscientious “Festival Nomad” that I am, I changed the clock in my bedroom the night before. I wanted to make sure I got up in time to go to a Sunday festival! Judi and I were meeting some friends at the festival site and I wanted to be on time to meet them. That morning I woke up early (before the alarm went off) and went into my office to catch up on some paperwork. I kept a close watch on the clock in the office because I didn’t want to be late! At the appropriate time I showered, ate breakfast and packed my camera and notes.  I was ready to go! Judi was also up, packed and ready to go! The trip to this festival would normally take 1 ½ hours, so to be on the safe side I gave us 2 hours to get there. So, off we go, lots of time to get there! It was a good thing too, because it had snowed the night before and the Highway was still snow covered in spots and quite slippery. By the time we had reached Whitby the road was clearing so we were able to safely go a little faster. Still plenty of time to get there! When I am getting closer to Toronto I like to turn on 680 News Radio to check the traffic reports. At 10 after the hour the report started and the announcer told us that the time was 11:10 am. I looked at the car radio and my wristwatch. Both said 10:10 am. IMPOSSIBLE!!! Then it hit. I had changed to clock in my bedroom, but none of the others!! I was going to be late! We were meeting them at 11:30 am and we were still ¾ of an hour away. In a panic I picked up my cell phone and dialed my friend’s number. I wanted to tell him we would be late and to apologize to him and his family! He laughed and said “Oh don’t worry, we were a bit delayed (3 young children) and got a late start. We are just leaving now!”GRRR” I said under my breath and told him I would meet them at the festival. We arrived at the festival just minutes apart! So much for punctuality and guilty feelings!!!
"Meeting Friends"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pancake Breakfasts…

I have never met a “Pancake Breakfast” I didn’t like! It’s funny how pancake breakfasts and festivals seem to go together. I think more festivals than not have them. I am likely “exaggerating” the ratio because I haven’t completed a scientific study (yet!), but from experience it seems that a whole lot of festivals do (or should) have them! This, then, brings me to my thoughts for this blog. For as many “pancake breakfasts” as there are, they all seem to be different in their own way! Take Cobourg Waterfront Festival for instance. They hold their breakfast in Cobourg’s Victoria Park. The local Chamber of Commerce cooks the breakfast and the Cobourg Lions Club allows their food and beer tent to be used for eating. The Chamber’s cooks are all very good at trading insults with the breakfast crowd. The Wellington Pumpkinfest, held in their community hall, is a very civilized affair. Volunteers take your order as you come in and then bring it to your table. At the Brighton Winterfest you are asked how many pancakes and sausage you want and when you are through, they offer you “extra helpings”!  At the Cobourg Winter Festival breakfast, which was held at the Cobourg Lions Centre, was so successful that they ran out of food. People waited very patiently while the Lions went out to purchase more supplies! The Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival served “locally produced” maple syrup at their breakfast, while the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival used syrup produced in Quebec! It was too early in the season to produce “local” syrup. All this talking about pancake breakfasts makes me hungry! Here’s to the upcoming year and all the new “Pancake Breakfasts” experiences!

"Pancakes at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival"

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Role in the Hay…

I had never really thought about it before, but festivals and hay ride and wagons were made for each other! Of the 100’s of festivals we have visited, over 15 have had some sort of wagon transportation. Festivals used them for a variety of different reasons, shuttle service, and entertainment, sight-seeing and general transportation. Different modes of locomotion are used, horse power, tractors and trucks. All have one thing in common, fun! Perhaps the wagon takes us back to our roots, to gentler times, where transport was slow but the scenery was beautiful and the smells were intoxicating.  I am sure you all have your own memories of “Hay Rides Past”, but I thought I would tell you some of our Hay Ride Adventures.

Our first hay ride adventure was during our first Ontario Festivals Visited event, the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. After visiting the first maple sugar farm on the tour, we were transported to the next farm on one of two horse drawn hay wagons being used for that purpose. The air was crisp, so the mist from the horses’ nostrils was visible. Although the trip was not very long, the joy of the open aired wagon ride was evident on the faces of our fellow travelers!

The tractor pulled wagon ride at the International Plowing Match took us from the parking lot to the festival grounds. The ground was very uneven and we were all standing up, weaving back and forth and holding on the wagon’s bars for dear life. I felt like a prisoner being transported to the gallows!

The wagon ride at the Bala Cranberry Festival was much gentler. A tractor pulled two covered wagons around the ground of the cranberry marsh. As we traveled through the marsh, the tractor driver pointed out areas of interest.

The Waterford Pumpkinfest wagon ride transported visitors from one festival venue to another. The wagon ride carried us through the Town of Waterford, giving us a wonderful opportunity to discover the charms of this beautiful little town!

At the Lang Pioneer Village’sChristmas by Candlelight” I was able to watch my grandson climb onto the horse drawn wagon that was going to take them around the villages square. They all sang Christmas carols along the way!

In Brighton, at the Brighton Winterfest, horse drawn wagons crossed the ice covered bay to take visitors to the “Tyke Pond” Hockey Tournament.

The horse drawn wagon ride at the Bruce’s Mill “Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival” took us into the heart of their Sugarbush. On the ride back a father and his baby quietly slept to the rhythm of the turning wheels!

And finally, on our latest tractor pulled wagon ride at one of the Maple in the County Sugarbush participants, we traveled down a long lane from the parking area to the Sugarbush and Pancake Breakfast. During the trip the temperature was below zero and there was a chilling breeze. I think the attitude of the passenger next to me summarized all of our wagon adventures. Her comment to me as she first sat down was “It’s great to have this many people so close, we will all keep warm.” and as we moved along, we all chatted comfortably as old friends.
"Wagon ride at the Buckhorn Maplefest"