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Summer Tour...
by Gary McWilliams (aka The Festival Nomad)

I love the summer! Yes, it's warmer! Yes, the sun seems to shine a lot more! And, yes, it's much easier to travel" That is, if you discount travel through and to Toronto! This is all important to us, because that's what Judi and I do in the "Good olde Summer-time", we travel... A LOT! This year we hope to widen our range even more and visit new (to us) communities and events. Although our plans haven't firmed up completely yet, we know that there are plenty of exciting events that we haven't visited. The south-western part of the province has eluded us in the past, London, Windsor and Sarnia come to mind. So do communities up the Lake Huron coast, Goderich, Kincardine, Port Elgin and Owen Sound. We had hoped to visit Northern Ontario this year, but our travel plans fell through. Hopefully that will change in the future. Ontario is a fabulous province with so many amazing places to visit. Thank goodness for the "Good olde Summer-time"!

It's Happening in Ontario!

HERITAGE ~ All summer long Heritage is taking a look at the “Reflections of our Past” and “Hope for our future”.  Here's a few of the amazing heritage sites and facilities you can visit this summer! Heritage Mica Days (Friends of Murphys Point Park, Perth area); Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (Sault Ste. Marie); Pathways to Peace ~ Western Corridor War 1812-1814 (Hamilton Region); Westfield Heritage Village (Rockton); Hutchison House Museum (Peterborough); Lang Pioneer Village Museum (Keene); Discovery Harbour (Penetanguishene); Saint Marie among the Hurons (Midland); Fort Henry (Kingston); Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake); Black Creek Pioneer Village (Toronto area); Upper Canada Village (Morrisburg) and Fanshawe Pioneer Village (London).

COMMUNITIES ~  Tourism in Ontario is thriving, as these City’s, Town’s and Communities welcome you to tour their Regions, we encourage you to check out their great website for a breakdown of all the wonderful adventures waiting to be discovered ~ Tourism Kingston; Tourism Midland; County of Brant; Tecumseh Business Improvement Area; City of Waterloo; Buckhorn Community Centre; City of Port Colborne; Brockville & District COC Tourism; Kawarthas Northumberland Region; Muskoka Region; Kingsville Tourism; London Tourism; Sault Ste. Marie Tourism and Tourism Timmins.

ARTS & CULTURE ~ Music and Theatre, Racing, Fairs, Shows, and more create a combination of delightful afternoons and exciting evenings. Check out these Arts & Culture experiences ~   Westben Arts Festival Theatre (Campbellford); St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival (Prescott); Western Fair District (London); Stratford Summer Music (Stratford); Stratford Festival (Stratford); Shaw Festival Theatre (Niagara-on-the-Lake); Stirling Festival Theatre; Blyth Festival; Rose Theatre (Brampton); 4th Line Theatre (Millbrook) and Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque).

EXPLORE ~ If reptiles and Dinosaurs are your “cup of tea” try out the Indian River Reptile Zoo in the Peterborough area this summer; they offer a unique setting with life size animatronics dinosaurs, part of their Dinosaurs Roar exhibit; or set sails with Sunset Cruises in Muskoka travelling with Captain Randy and Crew on the Peerless II, or Idyllwood; or if sticks, stones and bones are up your alley, the drive to Sarnia to the Stones 'N Bones Museum will delight the entire family. Also, Toronto Zoo, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum (Ottawa); Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau); Canada Aviation and Space Museum (Ottawa); Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto); Canada Science and Technology Museum (Ottawa) and Ontario Science Centre (Toronto).

AGRITOURISM ~ While summer seems like a perfect time for festivals and events, the Agricultural Societies have many year round activities. From Fairground rentals, to dog shows, truck & car shows, Car Toot Bingo and so much more. If you check some of these websites you will be sure to catch some amazing events!  Woodbridge Agricultural Society; Lindsay Agricultural Society; Ancaster Fairgrounds; Roseneath Agricultural Society; Listowel Agricultural Society; Lombardy Agricultural Society; Caledonia Agricultural Society; North Lanark Agricultural Society; Western Fair District; Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show.

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS ~ Please visit both our Ontario Event Finder (click on icon below) and our Ontario Event Calendar (click on icon below) for further information. You can also check-out the Summer Fun Guide, another great place to discover Ontario's "Summer or Year-Round Fun"!

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Festival Nomad’s Report…

Over the past month and a half Judi and I have visited a number of very interesting festivals and events. Towards the end of May, Judi and I attended the Exposure Photo & Video Imagining Show in Mississauga. He show is presented each year by Henry’s Camera Stores. Walking through the show made me realize just how many imagining opportunities there are and just how little I know about imaging! I hope to correct the imbalance over time. In early June, Judi and I traveled to Bobcaygeon for the Settlers Day event at the Kawartha Settlers Village. This heritage village is a great place to visit any time, but especially so during one of their special events. The next week we visited two different events. The first was in Belleville at the Quinte Rodeo, held at the Quinte Ex Fairgrounds. We went to the rodeo with our friends Barb and Laurence Stephenson. Barb is a “horse-person” from a way back so it was fun to attend with her! The next day Judi and I drove all the way to Rockton and the Westfield Heritage Village. They were celebrating their 50th anniversary. This was our first visit to Westfield and I can assure you that it won’t be the last! This is a beautiful heritage village, founded 50 years ago by two dedicated high school teachers who had a vision and followed through with the vision. A wonderful story! In the third week of June we wound our way to Toronto’s waterfront and the Redpath Waterfront Festival. Getting to the event was a story in itself. Our journey started with the 401 Highway being closed at Port Union for a “truck rollover” and ended with a “INTERESTING streetcar-ride”. Fortunately we were with our Toronto friends, Tom and Rachel, who were both “streetcar rider” veterans! The event itself was fabulous, both with the “Dock Dog Championships” and the “Flyboarding” competition. If you have never seen Flyboarding, you missed one of the most exciting sports available! We’ll be posting videos in our upcoming article. On the last weekend in June, we once again toured Cobourg’s annual Waterfront Festival. As we walked through the various attractions, I was struck by the number of people who still enjoyed this marvelous festival. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 25 years old! On Sunday we left Cobourg and headed east. Our first stop was to visit our friend, Lory MacDonald’s Kingston Artfest. What an amazing, well organized event! This is one of four events organized by Lory and her Team. The other three events take place in Toronto’s Historic Distillery District. From Kingston we traveled on to Brockville. We had hoped to attend the Brockville Hydroplane Regatta, but were disappointed to learn that the event only ran until Sunday. Undeterred, we made plans for the following day. First it was off to visit friends in Prescott. This is where the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival takes place. They have two main plays running this year, The Tempest and Two Gentlemen from Verona, plus they are hosting a special “Shakespeare’s GLOBE World Tour” performance of Hamlet. While we were there, we took in a “sneak peek” at the Two Gentlemen from Verona rehearsal. Judi and I can’t wait for “Opening Night”! In the afternoon, we visited Ontario Heritage Trust’s Fulford Place! This is “magnificent Edwardian mansion overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River”. Fulford Place was built for Senator George Taylor Fulford and his family at the turn of the 20th century. We were treated to a wonderful tour of this historic home. The next day was Canada Day where we celebrated Canada’s 147th birthday in Prescott at Fort Wellington and in the “Loyalist Village” of Bath.

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The following are excerpts from some of our recent visits to Ontario's great festivals, events, communities, attractions, fairs and heritage sites. More will follow in future INSIDER editions.

Settlers' Day

(At Kawartha Settlers' Village, Bobcaygeon)

"Our day was drawing to a close and we decided to take a wagon ride pulled by two beautiful soft beige majestic horses. The owner/driver, George Harrison, was generous when he allowed Gary to take a seat beside him, so that we could capture a view on scenic video of the Village. As we journeyed around Settlers' Day, we experienced at a glance the essence of this magnificent facility, the heritage Village and Settlers’ Day." (Click HERE to read article.)

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Exploring The Village In Style!

Quinte Rodeo

(Held at the Quinte Exhibition Fairgrounds)

"One big bull wasn't too keen on this process. At 1,500 pounds it had its own mind made up. Although the lasso made it around the bulls head, the bull simply lay down. It was also most like it was saying "no way - I’m not going with you". It was like a little kid has a major temper tantrum. This scene played out for what seemed like a long time. The big bull lay down at least three times. It took the second lasso being hooked around the bulls head and two huge horses pulling it back into the pen. The cowboys won at the end of that round!" (Click HERE to read article.)

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Rough Ride!

50th Anniversary Celebrations

(At the Westfield Heritage Village, Rockton)

 "Another favourite building was the Albrecht Seip Boot & Harness Shop. Built in Waterloo County in 1853, the master leather craftsmen opened shops such as this one to meet the increased demand for shoes, harnesses and other leather good’s. The leather shop interpreter was fantastic! He said I "was in great need of help". I had "holes in my shoes" and they were "crooked". We went into the shop to learn what "help" I needed." (Click HERE to read article.)

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What's Wrong With My Shoes?

Redpath Waterfront Festival

(Held at Toronto's Waterfront District)

"The athletes propel themselves with a hand held device attached to a "Jet Ski". It was odd to watch the Jet Ski driving around the water with no human on board steering. The athlete is attached to a very long tub which in turn is attached to the Jet Ski. From what we saw, the momentum of the water and air rushing up the tub propels the athlete into the air. High up into the air! Their feet are attached to what looks like a skateboard or snowboard. While in the air the “tricks” can be completed much like snowboarding/skateboarding. By simply (yeah, right, simple), bending one knee you can turn your direction!" (Click HERE to read article.)

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What a Ride!!!