Thursday, April 26, 2018

Choosing Where To Go…

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 directories available on the internet. Here is where you can find three of them: Ontario Visited (; Festivals and Events Ontario ( and Ontario Tourism ( We check these first to find festivals or events that we might be interested in visiting.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bad Weather – Check the website to see what there 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Internet Articles – Using the Search Engine, “Google” (, 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.
Happy choosing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Shawn King – SEO Master/Friend

And over this time, Shawn and I have become friends, so much so that we are now partnering on several projects. Judi’s fine art website ( was one of them, but the one closest to my heart is the restructuring of the Ontario Visited Websites. We are working, right now, to make the site the best festival and event website in the world! A tall and daunting task I know, but one I feel worthwhile and, better yet, achievable! The next few years will tell the tale, but with friends like Shawn, who can miss!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Artists’ Series - Edwin Matthews (Artist/Entrepreneur)

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

Many years ago, friends introduced Judi and me to the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival (now known as the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival) (website: and to the Gallery-on-the-Lake (website: Judi and I were living in Mississauga at the time. Little did I know then how closely we would become linked to the Festival and Gallery and Edwin Matthews. Edwin was the founder of the festival and owner/creator of Gallery-on-the-Lake. Our relationship started as visitors to both the festival and gallery. It quickly grew to purchasers/art collectors and then, ultimately to representatives of Edwin’s fine art publishing company, Buckhorn Publishing. Edwin was not only a fine artist, but an astute businessman! He built both the art gallery and the publishing company from the ground up. Both became very successful businesses. The energy around the art business to the early to mid-1980 was electrifying and Ed made the most of it. Anytime we visited Ed and the Gallery, the Gallery was a “beehive” of activity! During the years, the Gallery-on-the-Lake was a destination attraction and seemed to be always teeming with enthusiastic visitors! Barbara Matthews (Ed’s wife) and her staff ran the gallery with quite efficiency. At the back of the Gallery were the Buckhorn Publishing offices. Edwin’s own office overlooked scenic Lower Buckhorn Lake. Whenever I visited the offices, I was with a friendly greeting from Ed’s longtime assistant, Penny Beliveau. The publishing company represented many great artist, including Michael Dumas, Edwin himself, Terrence Andrews, Mary Kendrick and, later, in Canada, Terry Redlin. One of my favourite memories of Edwin, was taking an art class from him. Ed convinced Judi and I to join one of his art classes and take a lesson from him. Ed was an excellent teacher and walked us through the different stages of developing a painting, from preparation to framing the finished piece, he taught us all phases. This even included going out to a field location and sketching a scene. Most of his class, Judi included, had painted before, but this was my first (and last) attempt. Ed patiently helped me and I ultimately completed my painting. It may not have been a masterpiece, but it was mine and I hung it proudly in my home for many years. What the lessons really gave me were a greater appreciation of art and artists. Something that has given me a great deal of pleasure for over 25 years! Unfortunately, over the years, circumstances change. Edwin and Barbara eventually decided to retire and they sold both businesses. Edwin has stayed close to the art business since his retirement but now, due to age and ill health he has slowed down from the art scene. His legacy, however, lives on. In 2007, the 30th anniversary of the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. Edwin was honoured for his contribution to both the festival and the community of Buckhorn. A tribute fitting for a man dedicated to promoting and improving his craft!
NOTE: Since this article was written, Edwin has passed away. We will miss him.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

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