Archive | Festivals & Events RSS feed for this section

First-ever Bayfield Volkfest: Love, peace and fun, fun, fun

30 Sep


By Diva Shari Parsons

BAYFIELD – This past Sunday my hubby and I enjoyed travelling through a time warp when we visited the first-ever Bayfield Volkfest in Clan Gregor Square.

As it was the first Volkfest, we weren’t sure what to expect but we were both very pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of vehicles present. We love camping and exploring so our favourite vehicles were the camper vans or buses. A few of them were in a “well matured” state while others had been lovingly restored. Some of the campers featured fun little vignettes complete with funky rainbow tie-dye interiors.

secondleftThere were also VW Beetles, including Herbie the Lovebug Jr. My favourite “bug” was a red convertible – perfect for summer cruising with the top down. There were a few more exotic species present as well such as the VW Thing, some dunebuggies, and an interloping Porsche. My favourite “exotic” was a lime green 1972 VW Karmann Ghia, which had been lovingly restored from the wheels up.

firstrightvwSome of the vehicle owners and a few visitors were dressed as groovy as the vehicles. There was a scent of incense (legal) wafting on the breeze and folk music playing in the background. A few vendors were situated around the park offering health food, locally roasted coffee beans, groovy jewelry, brightly coloured clothes, VW memorabilia, and apparently the grooving hippy’s choice of instrument – the ukulele.

A small stage was available for live music performances. While we were there a cute little girl in pigtails was singing her heart out while accompanied by someone drumming on an amplified wooden box and another musician playing the guitar. In the audience, several little children grooved to the beat including one little girl who twirled a rainbow coloured garland in time to the music.

Festival organizers Ryan Somers, Jen Reaburn and their eight-week-old daughter, River.

Festival organizers Ryan Somers, Jen Reaburn and their eight-week-old daughter, River.

I chatted with festival organizers Ryan Somers and his partner Jen Reaburn, owners of Elephant Juice, Juice and Smoothie Company of Bayfield. Inspired by Bayfield’s Vette Fest and obsessed with VW campers (funnily enough Ryan does not own a VW but he hopes to soon), volkfest4Ryan thought that it would be a great idea to put together a Volkfest. Incredibly, the festival was literally thrown together in about six weeks! Ryan started it off by creating a Facebook event and emailing a few friends to see if there was any interest. Social media was the driving force behind the success of this festival. Apparently classic VW owners are a friendly bunch who like to get together so news of the event spread quickly.

A few area businesses jumped on board. Smackwater Jack’s Taphouse in Grand Bend organized a brunch and group drive. The Ashwood Inn of Bayfield provided the stage and music set-up. Shopbike Coffee Roasters of Bayfield helped to spread the word.

This was a free, fun and relaxing event that was suitable for all ages. My hubby and I left dreaming about what adventures we could get up to if we owned a VW camper.

Next year’s event is already planned for Sept. 25, 2016.

Great Horned owls, frogs and hot dogs draw many to Wawanosh Nature Centre

26 Aug

wawanosh3By Diva Caroline Thuss

NORTH HURON – Packed up the family, flashlights, bug spray and donned rubber boots this past Thursday to head to the Wawanosh Nature Centre for an evening full of discovery for all ages at the annual Wawanosh By Moonlight event.

Located in North Huron, the drive into the Wawanosh Nature centre leads down a beautiful winding country road. It is not very well marked so it was very handy to have my husband with me to help spot the turns. Once we parked the car, we were greeted by staff and shown through the classroom where several artefacts were on display to teach about owls, bats and other creatures in the nature area.

wawanosh1The leader for the event, Erin, informed the group about some crazy owl facts, like they can turn their heads 270 degrees, and although they have amazing sight and hearing they do NOT have a great sense of smell as one of the Great Horned owls favourite snacks is skunks…yes, you read it here: SKUNKS!  Once we practised a few owl calls and refreshed our bug spray we headed out on our 1.5-k hike with lots of other families. There was also a 3-k route for those who were up for the longer adventure.

wawanosh4We kept up with the pace as we explored the woods, stopping a few times to learn about the different creatures in the conservation area that are nocturnal. This was very interactive as Erin got the attendees of all ages involved in figuring which frog call belong to what frog, using our sense of smell in the dark and working on our hearing to have a better understanding of the amazing abilities owls and others have.

wawanosh2At our last stop, we were very fortunate to spot a Great Horned owl perched on top of a tree. We watched it for a short while before it majestically took off in search of its dinner. We tried our best to call it back but many of the younger group members were ready to head for the campfire for hot dogs and marshmallows as a fun way to end the night.

The campfire was a very social event with many breaking out into traditional songs and sharing tips on how to get the perfectly roasted marshmallow. Conservation Authority staff were available to answer any more questions that attendees had. It was a great evening event that had all my kiddos snoring on our drive home.

A nice bonus was the free bowling pass to the Goderich Little Bowl that we received on our way out.


There are many things happening at the different conservation authorities in Huron County.

Check them out:

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority


Goderich Triathlon: For athletes and spectators alike

25 Aug

By Diva Caroline Thuss

GODERICH – I was up and at it early on Aug. 16 and fuelled by coffee to make it down to the Goderich main beach before the start of the Goderich Tri. Even though I get down there well before 8 a.m., many athletes and volunteers were already there for what would be hours before the event started, getting things set up and going over final details to make this event run smoothly.

triathlon2Everywhere I look I see the orange shirts of the volunteers, so if anyone needs any assistance it’s easy to get some guidance. I can’t even imagine how many hours that Jeremiah Sommer (race director) and the rest of the crew have put in to make this the scale of event that the Goderich Triathlon now is.

Participants come from all over Ontario, even a participant from New York State. The dedication that these athletes put into training for an event that can have athletes swimming 1000 m, biking 40 km and then finishing up by running 10 km is admirable. (Other race categories include the shorter beginner Try-A-Tri and the run / bike only Sprint Duathlon.) traithlonmainLooking at how wavy Lake Huron is this morning, I am sure it would feel like 2000 m for the swim, with the temperature expected to break 32 degrees and the humidex on top of that I can only imagine how spent these triathletes are by the end. A cold beer would sound in order to me:)

It’s exhilarating watching the athletes complete the different sections of the course and push through any negative thoughts they must have to stop and take a break. Many participants cheer on other triathletes as they passed each other and volunteers and spectators keep them going with cow bells, hand claps and cheers. It truly is an inspiring experience. The local triathlon club, the Huron County Tri Hards, are out in full force and sporting 4J on their arms or legs in support of their teammate, Julie Sawchuk, who is recovering from a horrific accident.

For those who are interested in other area events check these upcoming events:

Gateway to Health and Wealth trail run and walk Aug 29th


The Bad Thing Trail Race Oct. 31
If you are like me and would like to start training for next year’s Goderich Triathlon, check out these two local groups for training sessions, tips, and inspiration: Huron County Tri Hards and Huron County Endurance, both are on Facebook.

High-speed excitement waits for you at the 24th TransCan in Walton

13 Aug

motocross1By Diva Caroline Thuss

Well, I have always said that I will never turn down the opportunity to try something new. Boy, this assignment was well out of my comfort zone.

As my family and I approached the Walton Raceway, signs were everywhere indicating the large scale draw that this event has. Once through the gate, we met people from all over Ontario, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Michigan who were here to participate either as competitors or as spectators; some of the friendliest bunch of motocross fans on the earth.

motocross9Motocross was new to me. I have heard about it and understood a little about what would happen but had no clue as to how an event of this scope would be. Thank goodness we were handed a program that provided some background information and a schedule for the weeklong event.  It was thrilling to watch riders as young as four and well into their 20s (and beyond) zooming down an almost three-km dirt track that included a bunch of sharp turns and jumps with the sounds of their cc engine echoing across the raceway. Dirt was flying as they cut the sharp turns on the track and, at times, ear protection was a good idea for my children. As we moved around the track area, we were greeting by so many helpful people (spectators, competitors, volunteers and paid employees) who could tell we were greenhorns and helped enlighten us to this intense sport.

40cc, MX2 Jr B, VET jr, Supermini and Hot Lap are just some of the events that are happening at the Trans Can. As the week’s events were just getting under way, there were about 5,000-plus people there enjoying the excitement with us. That will explode to over 20,000 motocross people by the weekend. They will set up trailers and tents and camp out while enjoying and participating in Canada’s largest motocross event. Food vendors will be set up at various locations selling typical a variety of treats from local non-GMO beef burgers, sausages, spiral potato on a stick, funnel cakes and deep fried Mars bars and Reese’s peanut butter cups.

motocross5I was lucky to have some inside tips about what to expect. I have been told that Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the best days to come as that is when the final events are starting and the pros are going to be there. Friday night is the party of the week with the Huron County Throwdown with Brett Kissel hitting the stage. Saturday is the amateur finals with the fan pit party and Sunday the pros are there. I already have my two-year-old asking for a dirt bike so he can go “fast, fast, faster!” We have some new motocross fans at our house.

Weekday passes are: Adults, $15;  and Children  6-11 yr old, $5. Friday: Adults, $20; Children, 6-11 yr old $10. Motocross and Concert: Adults, $40; Children, 6-11 yr old, $20. Saturday: Adults, $25; Children,  6-11 yr old, $10. Sunday: Adults, $30; Children 6-11 yr old, $15. Your best bet is to purchase a weekend pass for a deal at: Adults, $60;  Children, 6-11yr old, $30. For more information, please check out the website

Family friendly fun in Blyth

28 Jul
Brodie Nesbitt, 10, sold railway spikes to raise money for a 4-wheeler.

Brodie Nesbitt, 10, sold railway spikes to raise money for a 4-wheeler at the Blyth Streetfest this past weekend. Photos by Shari Parsons.

By Diva Shari Parsons

BLYTH – It was with some nervous excitement that I set out Saturday afternoon for my first assignment as an Ontario Travel Diva, which was to report on the Blyth Streetfest. After reading a number of the other Diva’s posts, I felt that I had some pretty big shoes to fill.

Blyth is a picturesque village about 27 kms east of Goderich. From Goderich, it is an easy and relaxing drive along Blyth Rd. 25 through rolling countryside dotted with farm fields reminiscent of Gramma’s crazy quilts.

Once in Blyth, I found a shady parking spot beside the Blyth Public School and then walked two short blocks to Queen Street where all the action was to take place. As I approached, I could hear the skirl of bagpipes and the rat-a-tat-tat and boom-boom of the Brussels Legion Pipe Band. I arrived shortly after the noon start time and a number of the vendors were still in the process of setting up their booths. This gave me some time to wander the length of the Fest, before it got crowded, to scope out what was available. A cheerful gentleman in a bright tropical shirt was strumming little ditties on his ukulele as he wandered up and down while a budding young artist was busy creating a welcoming message on the road with pastel-coloured sidewalk chalk – ‘Blyth Streetfest “hear”’ (artistic licence perhaps?).

I stopped in to the Blyth Streetfest Headquarters and spoke with Connie Goodall, Economic Development Officer for the Township of North Huron. She told me that the event was started three years ago as a Busker Festival by the Blyth Business Improvement Association in partnership with the Township. It was created as an event that would bring people into the downtown core as an adjunct to a large camping festival that was taking place in Blyth at that time. Two years later, the event has changed dynamics somewhat and now features a performance stage and vendors. Connie said the focus of the Streetfest is to have an affordable, family friendly event with something to interest all ages.

For vintage car buffs, there was a variety of models of vintage cars all buffed and polished with chrome trim sparkling in the
IMG_2252 (2) (640x439)bright summer sun. You definitely needed your sunglasses on to look at those babies! My favourite was the 1958 Pontiac Chieftan with its shiny jet black body, brilliant chrome trim and crisp white sidewall tires, owned by Ed Becker of Clinton, ON. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone who would take me for a ride in it!

Summer festivals always mean food vendors and there was no shortage of choices to be made. You could try a basket of deep-fried pickles at Gator’s Grub (my tummy wasn’t brave enough). If you wanted something more traditional, the Lions Club had hamburgers and hotdogs. For those with a sweet tooth, there were a number of vendors offering a wide variety of delicious, home-baked goodies. Although those baked goods called to me with their siren (as in mermaid) voices, my burgeoning waistline convinced me to just look but not taste. The most interesting and entertaining food choice was the Tatostix and the Appostix. The Tatostix was made from a potato that was placed into a cylindrical machine that turned the potato while slicing it into one, long corkscrew. This was then threaded onto a long wooden skewer and placed in a deep-fryer. When cooked, the buyer then had a choice of a variety of flavours and spices that could be sprinkled onto the Tatostix. The Appostix was made from a Granny Smith apple that was sliced in the same manner and then threaded onto the skewer. The Appostix is not cooked but you could choose to have it sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or drizzled with chocolate sauce. In keeping with my desire to eat something “healthier” I chose an Appostix, but seeing as I am a bit of a chocoholic, I broke down and had mine drizzled with the chocolate sauce. The tart, crisp apple with the bittersweet dark chocolate was quite the taste sensation. It left me with sticky fingers and a paranoia that my face was covered in chocolate.

If you enjoy shopping, street vendors offered cosmetics, handicrafts, home decor, baked goods, fresh produce, spices, scented candles and even 3D Fibre Eyelashes! Many of the vendors are local folk but there were also some from Brussels, Mitchell and IMG_2279 (2) (640x480)_1Chesley. One lady from Stitches with a Twist in Blyth offered the most darling selection of tiny, hand-knit sheep, chickens, hedgehogs, rabbits and gnomes. Another lady sold soft-sided toy boxes, the colourful fabrics reminding me of a Turkish bazaar. Whitefield Farms had an artistic display of wonderful fruits, veggies and flower arrangements. Roslyn Cook of Goderich made lovely, brightly coloured mosaics. Vendors, David Hafner and Nick Buri, from Maple and Moose in Blyth sold quality wooden bird houses, feeders, game boards and cutting boards. The Wonky Frog Studio created pottery and other art. Their business mascot is the endangered Lemur Leaf Frog from Costa Rica.

My favourite entrepreneur was 10-year-old Brodie Nesbitt who was selling rusty rail road spikes for the bargain price of $1 each. Brodie and some friends have been busy collecting the spikes from the nearby Greenway Trail. He told me that he is hoping to earn enough money to buy a four-wheeler.

For the children, there was face-painting, a bike rodeo and a Corn Box filled with corn kernels and toy farm equipment, which was IMG_2293 (2) (480x640)very popular with the younger crowd, all farmers-in-training. The North Huron Fire Dept. had its Safety House to teach the children home fire safety. The volunteer firemen took me through a tour, which included smoke filled rooms, hot doors and fire alarms. There were booths where children could enter their guess as to how many coins there were in one jar or jellybeans in another. The CIBC had a bean bag toss and gave out little bottles of bubble solution.

Entertainment for children was provided by Dickie Bird – the fellow in the bright Hawaiian shirt. He played guitar and mixed humour with upbeat songs while a bubble machine filled the air with rainbow coloured bubbles. Dickie Bird was not one to hog the limelight so he quickly had the stage filled with young participants who clapped, honked horns, and jingled and jangled while others tried to hulahoop in time to the music. Dickie followed his music with magic tricks to the delight of the children.

The children’s entertainment was followed by a display of ballroom dancing performed by the East Side Studio Dancers from Blyth. I wanted to get up there and rhumba with them! 1-2-cha-cha-cha. Waiting in the wings ready to “swing your partner” were the Wheel’N’Dealers Modern Square Dancers from Clinton with the ladies wearing their brightly coloured skirts over puffy crinolines and the men in their western shirts and coloured neckerchiefs.

I have been considering getting a tattoo but I am not crazy about needles. Luckily for me, Dr. T was there with his airbrushes. He used to have a venue on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls and also travelled with carnivals. I chose the design with 2 hearts (for me and my hubby) bordered by delicate leaves – and of course I had to have a healthy sprinkling of sparkling pixie dust to finish it off.

Another booth that I found interesting was a display of handcrafted items made by students at the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity located in Blyth. You could sign up for a wide variety of courses. I chose photography, photojournalism, wire jewelry, and fabric marbling.

If you were hot and needed a quick cool down, you could try bobbing for apples at the North Huron Community Foodshare booth where you could also learn just how little the amount of food that a family of four can pick up for one month.

IMG_2312 (2) (480x640)As I was leaving, some young men were performing skateboard jumps. The occasional jumper landed on the ground sans skate board – I was glad it was their bum and not mine!

I would like to acknowledge all the young volunteers who were present throughout the event, many of them high school students earning their community service hours. One student, Kaila Nesbitt, (older sister of the intrepid railroad spike entrepreneur) modelled the vivid, lime green Blyth Streetfest backpacks that were available for purchase. Kaila lives in Blyth and likes to support her community through volunteerism.

I enjoyed my time at the Blyth Streetfest. Everyone was very friendly and parents felt safe letting their little ones roam. I think that it is a pleasant, inexpensive, family friendly activity that can easily be enjoyed for a couple of hours.

Musical masterpiece opens Bach Music Festival

15 Jul


By Diva Karen Stewart

EXETER – As I left my car on a side street in Exeter on Monday night, the bells in the tower at Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church were ringing a melancholy welcome.

A few minutes later, South Huron’s third Bach Music Festival of Canada was opened by the chair of the board, Friedhelm Hoffman, with greetings from South Huron’s mayor, Maureen Cole. What followed was nothing short of splendid – an evening of exceptional music presented by the wildly talented Spanish pianist Leopoldo Erice.

The concert began with Erice presenting a short lecture on his career, his appreciation for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his introduction to the musical part of the evening – the 32-part Goldberg Variations. I so appreciated this opportunity to learn more about Bach and his music from such a passionate and charming performer.

Leopoldo Erice

Leopoldo Erice

Erice began by saying “a concert without an audience is not a concert at all” and he thanked the nearly sold-out crowd for attending the performance this night. “The audience is the receiver of the composer’s message,” and is, therefore, a key part of the event.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician (1685 – 1750). He created the Goldberg Variations, an iconic 32-piece aria once described by NPR Music blogger Tom Huizenga as both “simply beautiful keyboard work, and a Rubik’s Cube of invention and architecture.”

A stately grand piano from D & S Pianos filled the stage so it was interesting to be reminded that in the time of Bach the piano had not yet been invented. The aria had been created for playing on a harpsichord with two manuals (or keyboards).

Erice described the translation to the piano to be quite demanding as the crossing of the hands would become somewhat chaotic, “like Tom and Jerry running back and forth across the keys” (he was quite funny in his delivery.) At one point in the aria, on the piano, both hands play the same note so the musician gets to decide which works for him/her.

Eric told the audience that the Goldberg Variations are said to have exquisite craftsmanship inspired by Bach’s devote Lutheran faith. It was created as part of Bach’s lifelong search for perfection. Further, Erice described the Goldberg Variations having much significance in its numbers. The 32-part Aria was created in 10 groups of three (with two parts repeated to reach the 32). There were nine canons or musical techniques employing a specific melody. And there were three parts presented in minors – #15 – (15/3 = 5) with the five having fear and sadness relating significance to the Virgin Mary; #21 (21/3 = 7) … relating to the seventh day when God rested and # 25 (5/5 = 5), a large homage, again to the Virgin Mary. The last variation #30 was celebratory.

Finally, Erice felt honoured to have the opportunity to explore Bach’s music in depth and feels that the piece often sends the audience into a meditative and contemplative state of mind. Most of all he felt the Goldberg Variations “have some of the most beautiful magical moments in music.”

After a brief break, the concert began … approximately 90 minutes of un-interrupted, technically complex but none-the-less splendid piano music, presented by a consummate professional. Some pieces were easy-listening, some were delivered with more aggression and some with rapid staccato.   The pieces created in minor keys definitely changed the mood as Bach has intended per this lecturer’s research.
The triple standing ovation indicated everyone in the church that evening agreed this was a wonderful way to kick off the 2015 Festival that continues all week with evening concerts and Bach’s free Brown-Bag Lunch Series.   The grand finale is St. Matthew Passion on Saturday night.

Full details are available on the website.

This piano originally belonged to Diva Karen Stewart's grandmother’s.  Karen donated it to Bach Music Festival in 2011 and an art class at South Huron District High School painted it.

This piano originally belonged to Diva Karen Stewart’s grandmother’s. Karen donated it to Bach Music Festival in 2011 and an art class at South Huron District High School painted it.



How to celebrate Canada Day in Huron County

30 Jun

CanadaDay-EventsBy Diva Claire Carter

The five-day forecast is showing a break from the rain, and I’m ready to celebrate Canada Day!  The holiday is extra special this year, as we’re also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Canada Flag.  Here’s a list of what’s happening around Huron County.

goderich fireworksFestivities in Goderich kick off tonight with a fireworks show at the beach, featuring the sounds of Hotel California, the Original Eagles Tribute Band near the Marine Museum.  The concert starts at 8 p.m., and fireworks at dusk.  In the event of lightning, the fireworks will be rescheduled to July 1st.

On July 1st, head to Courthouse Square Park at 11 a.m. for free hotdogs, beverages and live entertainment.  The entertainment lineup for the day includes:

11:30 a.m. – Late Nite Radio
12:15 p.m. – Goderich Laketown Band
12:30 p.m. – The Civic Ceremony takes place on the Performance Stage to officially recognize Canada Day.
2 p.m. – Parade begins, traveling around the square and following the route below:

Goderich parade map

After the Canada Day parade, head back back to the beach for the Sail Pass and Boat Parade. The boats will sail past Cove Beach, St. Christophers Beach and the Main Beach before they enter the Main Harbour to be judged.

The Huron County Museum and Historic Gaol are both open from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Canada Day.

July 1st is a very full day in Exeter.  Head to the Rec Centre and Legion in South Huron early for a full day of events!  Free swim will also be offered.
7 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Breakfast

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Car Show

10 a.m. – Dress your Pet Contest

4 p.m.– dusk – musical entertainment

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Supper at the Exeter Legion

Fireworks at dusk.

Contact  Ian Palmateer for more information – (519) 228-7303.

The Wingham Firefighters Association is hosting fireworks in Riverside Park at Dusk on July 1st.
Also on July 1st, is the Seaforth Firefighter’s Breakfast.  Travel to Huron East and enjoy eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes, toast, coffee and juice at the Seaforth Firehall (31 Birch Street) from 9 a.m. until noon.  Contact Marty Bedard for more information. (

Depending on how much you feel like doing, you can see fireworks two nights in a row, enjoy a great breakfast or dinner and participate in community fun.  Happy Canada Day!

For information on other summer events in Goderich, visit


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,394 other followers