Life is a Beach in Huron County

23 Jul

by Diva Calista Powell

It is easy to take for granted the beautiful beaches that we have available to us in Huron County. I have traveled around the world and lounged on some of the most incredible seashores; From Frasier Island’s champagne pools in Australia to Elafonisi’s pink sands in Crete, Greece. As wonderful as these exotic sands are, there really is no place like home.To me, there is nothing better than the freshwater Great Lakes and watching the sun set over the West Coast horizon. Here are a few favourite beaches of mine that I recommend you visit this summer:

The Stegall sisters performing at Summer Sunset Sounds for a crowd of beach go-ers.

The Stegall sisters performing at Summer Sunset Sounds for a crowd of beach go-ers.

Beach #1: Grand Bend Beach

Whenever I have to explain to city folk where my hometown is, I usually say, “45 minutes from Grand Bend”, because everyone is familiar with this lively strip and beautiful waters. From the night life to the soft stretches of sand, Grand Bend never disappoints. After a 27-degree day of sun tanning and water frisbee, I packed up my beach bag and strolled up to the observation deck stage to see one of my favourite bands, Stegall, perform for Summer Sunset Sounds. Summer Sunsets Sounds is a series of free live concerts that happen every Sunday night at 7pm on the main beach of Grand Bend. The sensational sunset and laid back atmosphere complimented the Stegall sisters beats in the most perfect way. To see the line up for the rest of the summer visit: http://grandbendtourism.com/events/summersunsetsounds

The waters of Grand Bend shining at sunset.

The waters of Grand Bend shining at sunset.

Beach #2: Bayfield South Beach (Howard Street Beach)

The sleepy town of Bayfield is one of my favourite places to be in the summertime. This season, I made a point to stroll through Patina Studios to see the fine art and pottery by artists Joan Bailey and Tony Eyamie, stop in to see my friend Jean-Anne Hamilton at The Black Dog Pantry for a snack and then take the trek down the long wooden staircase on Howard Street Beach to soak up some rays. What I like about this beach is that it is fairly secluded and has a much quieter pace, so it is perfect way to recharge and take a mini-vacation from the hustle and bustle of work life.

The Bayfield sunset lights up the South Street Beach shoreline.

The Bayfield sunset lights up the South Street Beach shoreline.

Directions: At Brandon’s Hardware store on the square, take a right onto Howard Street and follow it all the way to the very end lot.

Beach #3: Port Blake Park

This was the first year I have ever visited Port Blake Park, and thanks to Best Host West Coast (a Huron Tourism Association training program) I now know about this Lake Huron gem. Port Blake is a serene, yet lively conservation area equipped with a picnic pavilion and BBQ areas. Over the years, this location has attracted guests from urban centres such as Kitchener and the GTA. Port Blake Park is a great place to bring the whole family for the day, and is dog friendly (as long as they are leashed). Admission is $4 per person or $10 a car load and is most definitely worth checking out this summer.

Address: 71155A Bluewater Highway 21 at Highway 83 (Dashwood Road)

For more information on beaches and to discover many more summer destinations, check out Ontario’s West Coast publications at http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/beta/news/publications-brochures/

Huron County – 29 Beautiful Hiking Trails

17 Jul MenesetungBridge

by Diva Calista Powell
When I was a kid it was nearly impossible to keep me inside in the summertime. I can vividly remember my best friend Brittany and I exploring the many hiking trails around Goderich. We told ghost stories at Tiger Dunlop’s tomb and watched many sunsets from the Menesetung bridge. To this day, my appreciation for nature has not subsided and I am happy to call Huron home as we have over 29 beautiful hiking trails to discover. Here are some of my favourites that I have explored this season:

Trail #1: Maitland Woods

This 3.3km hiking trail is on the south edge of Goderich and is family friendly. There are boardwalks put in place to protect the varieties of plant life along the way and it is not uncommon to see wildlife along the path. What is great about this trail is that in the winter time it makes for an excellent cross-country skiing adventure!

Directions: Main entrance is off of Parsons Court at the southwest corner of the Knights of Columbus parking lot in Goderich, Ontario.

MaitlandTrail2013-Goderich-11

THe Maitland Trail – hiking the gravel path at sunset.

Trail #2: Bannockburn Conservation Area

The Bannockburn trail has always been a favourite for my family, and every year we honour our tradition and attend their Fall hike hosted by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. I remember as a young kid I had a special mug that I would bring from home to fill up with hot apple cider to enjoy along the walk. The Bannockburn trail is also a favourite for many because you can bring your family pet as long as they are leashed. Also, there are alternate routes for hikers with a higher experience level. Come and enjoy the six natural communities Bannockburn has to offer; wet meadow, deciduous forest, old field, aquatic, marsh and white cedar.

Directions: Bannockburn Conservation is located on 76249 Bannockburn Line and is the first side road east of Varna off of County Road #3 (Mill Road).

Trail #3: MacNaughton-Morrison Trail

The MacNaughton-Morrison Trail is a 4km loop that is part of the South Huron hiking experience along the Ausable river. Known for it’s population of white squirrels, trail-goers can expect to see a variety of wildlife among the hardwood and pine forests. What is particularly great about this trail is that it is wheelchair accessible and even has a great volunteer-run “Trail Mobile” that gives people with limited mobility the chance to experience the beauty of nature free of charge. To book the Trail Mobile, contact Ausable Bayfield Conservation at 519-235-2610.

Directions: This trail is located off of MacNaughton Park in Exeter at 62 MacNaughton Drive.

MenesetungBridge

For more information on these trails and to discover many more, pick up Ontario’s West Coast Hiking Guide or visit www.hikehuron.ca

 

Bayfield hosts The Tall Ships

14 Jul Tall_Ships_Bayfield3

Tall_Ships_Bayfield5Diva Christine visited Bayfield to get a glimpse of two Tall Ships that docked here for the weekend.

Per CKNX Radio, the Tall Ships were hosted by ten local service clubs including the Optimists. Chair of the Optimists Tall Ships Committee, Mike Dixon described the ships:  “both two-masted square riggers, 72 ft long, and both with a permanent crew of about ten. Each ship also carries a temporary crew of a dozen students who sign on for one to two weeks.”  Bayfield is the first of eight stops the tall ships will make on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes this summer.

Tall_Ships_Bayfield2

Tall_Ships_Bayfield1

 

Kitchen Radio opens Blyth’s 40th Anniversary Season

13 Jul KitchenRadioSet

by Claire Carter
I must begin this post with full disclosure.  I am a big fan of the Blyth Festival.  I love that the performances feature locally relevant topics, and exclusively Canadian plays.  I love visiting Blyth Memorial Hall, sitting in either the upper or lower balcony, and enjoying a world-class show in a Huron County village of 1,000 people.

I have been lucky enough that each of the recent productions I have attended have had bonus events.  Last year, I enjoyed a country dinner before a play (dinners take place Friday and Saturdays at different locations in Blyth, including churches, community centres and the Legion). The meal was lovingly prepared, and ended with so many different types of pie!  This year, the Huron Tourism Association was hosting the evening I attended.  Sweets and appetizers featuring local ingredients were available from local eateries and hotels, including Queens Bakery, Benmiller Inn and Samuels.

I was lucky enough to attend Kitchen Radio at the Blyth Festival on June 26.  The performance I attended was the day before the official opening, but as an audience member, I would have thought the show had been on stage for years.

Written and directed by Marion de Vries, the musical is set in 1968, and features a mainly female cast.  The play examines the relationship that women have with each other and music.  The play was captivating, and seemed to feature each of the four strong main characters equally, developing their personalities through song and dance.  The set and costumes were both fantastic.  Charming and funny, I found myself in good company with the rest of the audience, laughing and grinning at the on-stage antics.  Locally relevant tie-ins were made throughout the play, my favourite being that CKNX was the station being listened to over the radio.  Over a week later, many of the songs are still stuck in my head.  The YouTube clip below shows dress rehearsal of Kitchen Radio, and will give you an idea of the fun music and choreography you can expect in this play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwBLniZy_PI

The Blyth Festival offers Canadian written and produced plays from late June through early September.  This season, four plays are set on the Mainstage (Blyth Memorial Hall): Kitchen Radio, Billy Bishop Goes to War, Stag and Doe and St. Anne’s Reel.  The Young Company presents Out of this World from August 27-30, and Radio: 30 is on stage at Phillips Studio from September 4-6.

Blyth Festival
Box 10
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300 / 1-877-862-5984

KitchenRadioSet

 

 

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight at the Huron Country Playhouse

10 Jul

HCPlayhouseby Diva Calista Powell
I can confidently tell you two things about myself; 1: Im no theatre buff and 2: I am terrified of horror movies. Despite this, I had an absolutely wonderful time seeing, “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight” at the Huron Country Playhouse.

Set in the 1980’s at a spooky and secluded farmhouse, the characters of this play did an excellent job of making their roles believable. I half expected as I left the theatre to see Jan, the neurotic city girl and her geeky inventor husband, Greg, doing the tourist thing out at a local flea market. I could picture Greg’s pretentious sister, Laura, clanking on the boardwalk in her stiletto’s shaded by a parasol. And I most definitely could see George, the hard working farmer stopping into Kate’s Station to meet up for some gossip with the good ‘ol boys.

It is performers like this that bring these stories to life with such vigour and passion that make it such an enjoyable experience. I must admit, it takes a lot to get me to laugh out loud, but the theatrics that these actors presented had me chuckling and I found myself jumping out of my seat as ghouls and ghosts popped out of the shadows.

This may not be a play for the faint of heart, but it is most definitely a unique blend of humour and horror that showcases the amazing talent that Huron has to offer. From the set design, to the 80’s costuming, to the comedic display of pyrotechnics and lighting, I’d recommend this production to theatre-goers and rookies alike. Be sure to check out the show playing in Plahouse II before it closes on July 12th.

For tickets, visit:
Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, RR 1, 70689 B Line, Grand Bend, Ontario N0M 1T0
GPS coordinates: N 43° 18.834 W 81° 43.549
Box Office: 519-238-6000 Administration: 519-238-8387 Fax: 519-238-6587

 

Diva Melody finds local organic pork

8 Jul

Huron County is home to caring farmers who care deeply about raising their animals in a stress-free environment.  Diva Melody discovered pasture raised pork at Linton’s Pasture Pork near Walton.  Read her full story at TasteofHuron.ca

A dreamy mud hole makes for happy pigs.

A dreamy mud hole makes for happy pigs.

Photo from Linton Pasture Pork's Facebook page. These piglets are three days old in this photo, and were fresh out of their mother when we arrived!

Photo from Linton Pasture Pork’s Facebook page. These piglets are three days old in this photo, and were fresh out of their mother when we arrived!

Ooh, Ahh, bacon!

Ooh, Ahh, bacon!

 

www.lintonpasturepork.com
Jeffrey Linton – 519-955-2519
Walton, Ontario

https://www.facebook.com/LintonPasturePork
http://www.lintonpasturepork.com/home.html
https://twitter.com/JLPasturePork

Billy Bishop Goes to War captivated this Diva

8 Jul Photo:  Billy Bishop provided by Blyth Festival
Photo:  Billy Bishop provided by Blyth Festival

Photo: Billy Bishop provided by Blyth Festival

by Diva Melody Hodgson
In the past few years I have devolved into the type of person that cannot do anything without checking my phone.  Whether it be watching TV, eating a meal, hanging out with friends and family or, the most special, talking on a landline, my phone is never far from reach.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and email (let’s not even get started on Google or AskReddit) have become my clutch to avoid being bored.  I fully recognize how pitiful it is, and it is not something I am terribly proud of, and I am working on it – trust me.  With that confession in mind, it was not without trepidation that I attended the opening night of Billy Bishop Goes to War at the 2014 Blyth Festival.

Two hours of no back-up plan; two hours of live theatre that did not have scene changes every 30 seconds or flashing lights or dramatic music like a movie does; two hours of me, paying attention, because there is no “pause” or “rewind”.  I went into the theatre blind, meaning I did not research the play, because I wanted to go in without any expectations and give it an honest shot.  So on Friday I turned off my phone, found my seat, and readied myself for what was to come.  And let me tell you, I was completely blown away.

JD Nicholsen, who plays the infamous Billy Bishop, is such a force of talent on the stage I will forever be in admiration of him.  His voices, facial expressions, sound effects and innate storytelling ability are so enthralling that I found myself captivated within the first scene.  Coupled with his stage partner Marek Norman who not only complimented Nicholsen, but also shone in his own regard, the two-man show kept the audience alternating between laughter, anticipation and dual admiration from open to close.  The play was fast-paced, the songwriting was lively, humorous and respectfully sombre when need be, and the visuals were beautifully incorporated into each scene.  Marvelously written and executed, Billy Bishop Goes to War is a true Canadian theatrical gem.

 

After the standing ovations had receded, and as the Blyth Royal Canadian Legion Colour Guard marched the colours out of the theatre to an audience performing a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen, I realized I had made it.  I had survived the two hours of live theatre…and I had loved it.  Perhaps you are like me, unsure if you have the ability to fully appreciate the skill and talent it takes to produce live theatre.  The skill and talent it takes to perform a live play in one shot, without any retakes or creative editing.  Or the skill and talent it takes to keep an entire audience captivated  for any amount of time, nevermind for the full duration of a play.  And if you are, fear not, you can overcome it – I promise.  Luckily, Billy Bishop Goes to War is a great place to start.

 

 

 

 

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