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Diva left with a sweet taste of ‘Hamlet with Heart’

15 Apr

carolineBy Diva Caroline Thuss

How many eggs does it take to make enough pancakes to feed over 6,000 people?

This Diva and my family discovered the answer on my journey to the 48th Belmore Maple Syrup Festival this past Saturday.

Over 300 community volunteers come together to make this event happen. It started as a way to raise funds needed to replace the community centre’s roof and has growth dramatically

Even with all the pancakes, syrup and sausages, a youngster chooses a creamer as the favourite treat.

Even with all the pancakes, syrup and sausages, a youngster chooses a creamer as the favourite treat.

over the years. Visitors come from all over Ontario to enjoy the sweet taste of local products brought together to make a delicious meal. Over 200 eggs and 700 litres of milk are used to mix into batter about 600 kg of flour, 80 kg of sugar, and more dry goods.  The dry ingredients are mixed ahead of time so all the volunteers need to do on the Festival days is add the wet ingredients and then the batter is ready for the line cooks. The pancakes are topped off with more than 150 gallons of locally produced maple syrup. Served alongside the pancakes are over 4,000 pounds of local pork sausage, which my kids could not get enough of. This festival is truly a local food celebration!

It is definitely worth the wait (we were lucky to only wait 30 minutes) to watch the line in action as hot, fluffy pancakes on a conveyor belt are placed on plates in an innovative process that makes service the fastest it can be.

It takes an army of volunteers to prepare the meal.

It takes an army of volunteers to prepare the meal.

And there is no shortage of food. If you find that the two or three pancakes along with as much sausage your plate can hold are not enough, servers are waiting to deliver more hot yummy goodness directly to your plate.

The Festival takes place in the Belmore Community Centre, which becomes packed with all the visitors in attendance enjoying the delicious food, the local entertainment, fresh baking, and more.

My kids really enjoyed the kid’s activity room, which included face painting, a clown offering balloon animals, a variety of crafts, and a space to themselves.  A whole section of the community centre is packed with local vendors selling a variety of items including jewellery, woodworking, sewing, and pottery.

The kids were enthralled by the mysteries of turning balloons in animal shapes.

The kids were enthralled by the mysteries of turning balloons in animal shapes.

One of the most popular destinations is the demonstration that happens out back of the community centre of how maple syrup is made. My kids loved the smell of the sap bubbling away to become rich syrup.

Overall, I could not think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than enjoying the Maple Syrup Festival and the very friendly community of Belmore. This Diva will be back for the 49th year!

For more information on festivals and events in Huron County, visit Ontario’s West Coast website.

Homemade pies were a hit with visitors.

Homemade pies were a hit with visitors.


Parents, kids hunt for Easter Eggs in Goderich’s downtown park

8 Apr

easteregghunt from Heather Boa on Vimeo.



By Diva Rachel Lynn

GODERICH – Easter Egg Hunt…I have been waiting for you for a whole year. Last year my daughter was too little to participate and I have had this written on my calendar for quite some time.

Despite the cool weather, it did not discourage what I would guesses to be a couple hundred people

Shawn and Beatrice get ready for the hunt.

Shawn and Beatrice get ready for the hunt.

from attending this event, which is put on by the Kinsmen Club of Goderich.

It’s more about parents bundling up in their winter hats, mitts and scarfs to accompany their kids to The Courthouse Park for this event. The kids are bundled up too, but the shear excitement of gathering chocolates is probably what is keeping their blood warm.

The Courthouse Park is at the centre of this town’s Square, a business district full of coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores and much more. As we drive up to The Square, it is already full of cars. Kids are crossing the street swinging their Easter Egg baskets ready to be filled with chocolatey goodness

The Easter Bunny has arrived, ready to take pictures with kids of all ages. There is free hot chocolate and coffee for parents and children.

The Easter Bunny greets children of all ages.

The Easter Bunny greets children of all ages.

We stayed in the 0-3 age range for Easter egg hunting. Don’t let the age deceive you; this area was packed full of kids and parents ready to fill their buckets, baskets and I even saw a kid with an Incredible Hulk wagon. This kid meant business.

I love the write up about the event: “It’s a shotgun start at 10 a.m., and by 10:05 it will be all over!!!” They were not kidding. As soon as the kids were given the go ahead, they swarmed on the chocolates like bees on honey.

Let’s be honest, this event was for myself and my husband, as parents, because my daughter is 19 months old and doesn’t get the idea. My husband was showing her how to put the chocolate eggs in her

Youngsters grab chocolate Easter eggs from the ground.

Youngsters grab chocolate Easter eggs from the ground.

fluffy pink bunny basket but she kept taking them out and giving them to other kids. I wonder how long this will last!? In the end we didn’t walk away with any chocolates, but Beatrice was just happy to be able to run around.

As a parent, it doesn’t matter if she “gets it.” It’s a memory we will cherish.

There were over 10 Easter egg hunts across Huron County this past weekend.

Did you miss them? Don’t worry, there’s one in Auburn next weekend. Here are the details:

Auburn Community Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 11
Time:  10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Location:  Huron Chapel Evangelical Missionary Church (119 John St.)
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m., fun stations set up for kids starting at 10 a.m.  Colouring contest awarding 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.  Colouring pages can be picked up at the Auburn Post Office.
Cost:  Free, donations accepted
Contact:  Cathy at the Auburn Post Office

For more information on upcoming events on Ontario’s West Coast, visit online.

The Courthouse Park in downtown Goderich is swarming with children on the hunt for Easter eggs.

The Courthouse Park in downtown Goderich is swarming with children on the hunt for Easter eggs.

Huron County Easter Egg Hunt Roundup

31 Mar eggmain

Compiled by Diva Melody Hodgson


Hensall Kinsmen Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Friday, April 3
Time:  10 a.m.
Location:  Hensall Arena Pavillion
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt
Cost:  Free
Contact:  Email Scott Harris,

Blyth Easter Egg Hunt and Craft

Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Location:  Huron County Library, Blyth Branch
Details:  Hop along to the Blyth Library for an Easter Egg Hunt and Craft.  Registration is required for the program and is geared for children ages 3 to 6.
Cost:  Free
Contact:  519-523-4400

Clinton Kinsmen Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10 a.m.
Location:  KIN Park
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny
Cost:  Free
Contact Info on Website.

Easter In the Park:  Exeter Lionesses Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  11 a.m.
Location:  Morrison Dam
Details:  Please register in advance at the South Huron Library or the ABCA Office. Deadline to register is Thursday April 2 at 5 pm. 12 years and under; only 250 spots.
Cost:  $2 per child
Contact Info on Facebook.

Goderich Kinsmen Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10 a.m.
Location:  Courthouse Park
Details:  Shotgun start, over 12,000 chocolates for children to scramble for; with an appearance from the Easter Bunny. (10 and under)
Cost:  Free
Contact Info on Facebook.

Howick Lions Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10 a.m.
Location:  Howick Arena
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt
Cost:  Free
Contact:  Email

Lucknow Kinettes Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location:  Gazebo, if poor weather will move to the arena
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt
Cost:  Free
Contact:  519-357-8464

Seaforth “Egg”-ricultural Society & Seaforth BIA Easter Egg Hunt
egg5Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  9 a.m. – 11 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. Easter Egg Hunt
Location:  Seaforth Agriplex, 140 Duke Street
Details: Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Bunny & pictures, $2 pancake breakfast, crafts, games, baby chicks & bunnies plus more!  12 and under for the actual Easter Egg Hunt.
Cost:  Free Easter Hunt & Activities; $2 for Pancake Breakfast
Contact Info on Facebook.

Vanastra & District Lions Club Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  9:30 a.m.
Location:  Vanastra Rec Centre
Details:  12 and under, Easter Egg Hunt, colouring contest, a visit from the Easter Bunny, plus a BBQ and refreshments.  Bring your smiles and Easter baskets!
Cost:  Free
Contact Info on Facebook.

Wingham Lions Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Location:  Cruickshank Park
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt, 12 and Under
Cost:  Free
Contact:  Wingham Lions

Zurich Lions Club Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location:  Zurich Rec Centre
Details:  Easter egg hunt (12 and under, two age groups), Easter Bunny, basket decorating, games, crafts and facepainting!
Cost:  Free
Contact:  Allan Fulker, President:  519-871-2867

Bayfield Optimists Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Sunday, April 4
Time:  1 p.m.
Location:  Clan Gregor Square
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt (two age groups), raffle for an Easter Egg basket plus more!
Cost:  Free
Contact Info on Facebook.

Auburn Community Easter Egg Hunt
Date:  Saturday, April 11
Time:  10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Location:  Huron Chapel Evangelical Missionary Church (119 John St.)
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m., fun stations set up for kids starting at 10 a.m.  Colouring contest awarding 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.  Colouring pages can be picked up at the Auburn Post Office.
Cost:  Free, donations accepted
Contact:  Cathy at the Auburn Post Office

(Egg photos courtesy of Pippalunacy.)

It’s all about the maple syrup

24 Mar
A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.

A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.


By Diva Danica Rush

What is it about maple syrup that brings people together?

Is it the wonderful sugary finish that completes a lazy brunch? The warm amber glow that signals spring is on the way? Whatever the reason, there is something about maple that unites Canadians to rural counties.

My friend Lauren, her two kids and I recently spend the afternoon at Samuels in Saltford. This lovely

maplesyrupsamuels9restaurant partnered with local producers Robinson Maple Products to host “Maple Magic Fest”, a two-day celebration of everything maple. Everything MAPLE!! Since neither Lauren, her kids nor I can resist anything maple, we had to check it out.

Everything, I mean everything, was maple.

Maple Cheese Cake. Maple Crème Brulée. Maple Walnut Truffle. Maple Mousse. Maple Cream Fudge. Maple Tarts. White Forest Maple Cake. Maple Macaroons, Maple Walnut Peanut Butter Cookies.

Maple! Maple! Maple!

maplesyrupsamuels10Our eyes cruised over the treat selections as we sat down to enjoy the homemade chili and hot chocolate that was served as a main dish. As the cheese melted into my chili, my mind focused on the task at hand. Which desert would I get? ! What can I bribe the kids with to make them share their maple treats with me? I tried in vain to calculate how much maple a reasonable adult could put in her mouth before strangers would look at her funny.

maplesyrupsamuels2We made our selections: A well-executed plan of divide and conquer. Iris narrowed in right away on the maple mousse. A wise choice. Emmett took his time, pacing up and down in front of the display till he finally picked out a Maple Macaroon for him and his mom to share. My heart stopped. NO! That was what I was going to pick! I panicked. If I pick the same treat as Emmett then my game plan of sneaking a bite of the kid’s treats would be thrown out the window. I could feel my personal feast of everything maple slipping out of my grasp. Fortunately, there were other wonderful treats to choice from. I quickly regained my composure, took a deep breath and brought a Maple Crème Brulée to our table.

You know a dessert is good when the only sound coming from the table is… mmm… mmm… mmm. Heads are bend over their own treats, no bites are shared and no crumb is shown mercy. I only had the Maple Crème Brulée, and it completely satisfied my maple lovin’ soul.

Filled with sugary bliss and chili good times, we gathered with other locals on a horse carriage that took us around Saltford. Signs of spring were upon us and it was good to simply be outside with others. Maple does that to people; it brings us outdoors at the end of winter, it warms our bodies and makes us feel young at heart. On the way home I asked Emmett what his favourite thing about maple is. He said, “It’s maple-y… and it’s from Ontario.”

Yep, sounds about right to me.

For more local maple events check out:

Robinson’s Maple Products Sugar Shack

Where: 85351 Harper Line just north of the Belgrave Road and east of the Dungannon Road.

maplerobinsonWhat: A tour of a sugar shack to see how maple syrup is made. Product for sale.

When: As long as the sap is running. If steam is coming out the stack, maple syrup is in the works.

How: Call 519-529-7857 to book your tour or come by chance.

St. James Church Pancake Brunch and Sugar Bush Tour

What: St. James Anglican Church in Middleton hosts its annual fund-raising sugar bush tour and breakfast.

When: Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Horse-drawn hay rides leave from Pine Lake Campground Recreational Hall, 77794 Orchard Line and travel to Rick Schilbe Farm for a tour of the sugar bush and shanty. The Bayfield River Valley Trail Association will also lead groups of walkers through the Schilbe maple bush to visit the shanty for the tour. Walkers will depart at 10 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. This is an easy ¾ km walk along an old bush road.

Cost: The cost for the brunch is $10, adults; $5, children 12 to 6 years; and youngsters aged five and under are free. Proceeds from the event will go to world outreach.

48th Annual Belmore Maple Syrup Festival 

What: A community festival for all ages with crafts, dancing, music to celebrate maple syrup.

When: Thursday, April 9 to Saturday, April 11, with pancake breakfasts served daily.

Where: Belmore Community Centre,91122 Belmore Line R.R.#1 Wroxeter.

Cost: Admission to the community centre is free. Meal prices: $10 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 11, free for children under 5.

Blyth Creek Maple Farm Tours

What: Sugar bush tours, tree identification, hot chocolate, pancakes and maple syrup

When: Tours by appointment.

Where: 42232 Moncrieff Rd, Blyth

Contact: Phone Val at 519-357-7558


Extend the season by picking up some pure maple syrup and try this recipe at home. Remember to store your syrup in the fridge once you’ve opened the package.


For crust

  • Twenty-four 5- by 2 1/2-inch graham crackers
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure local maple syrup (preferably Grade B)

For filling

  • Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Accompaniment: pure maple syrup if desired for drizzling


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Make crust:
In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Melt butter. In a large bowl stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and maple syrup and press evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap bottom and side of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to avoid leakage.

Make filling:
In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a food processor beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add syrup and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream and beat until just combined.

Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 1 hour (cake will not be set in centre but will set as it chills). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days.

Remove side of pan. Serve cheesecake in wedges, drizzled with maple syrup.


Abra-KID-abra a magical way to end March Break

23 Mar


By Diva Caroline Thuss

Looking for entertainment that is good for both kids and adults alike? Abra-KID-abra pulls an excellent magic show out of a hat that left both my daughter and me in stiches. As soon as we entered the Blyth Memorial Community Hall the comical mood was set with the music playing as we waited for the show to start. The theatre was full of kids of all ages, parents and grandparents who were all eager for the show to start. Once Peter Mennie took the stage you knew that it would be a performance that would leave adults and kids in awe of his magic and in stitches from all the comedy that he effortlessly dishes out.

Diva Caroline Thuss and her daughter were in stitches during the show.

Diva Caroline Thuss and her daughter were in stitches during the show.

His magic and illusions allowed a multitude of kids to become part of the show as his “assistants” and he played off of their reactions, which if you have kids you know they can say some pretty funny things. Many of the kids around us wanted to get on stage and he made sure he involved as many as he could. My daughter often whispered to me “Mom, he is soooo funny!” and “WOW…how did he do that?” I have to admit that I also wondered the same thing.

After the show, they had kid-friendly magic wands for sale at a very reasonable price of $3, which included a booklet of magic tricks to do at home. I bought five of them to give to my other children and my nephew and niece the next time I see them.

It was a pirate-themed week over at Queen's Bakery, with treasure chest treats - Rice Krispies squares with chocolate gold coins

It was a pirate-themed week over at Queen’s Bakery, with treasure chest treats – Rice Krispies squares with chocolate gold coins

After the show, we headed across the street to the Queen’s Bakery to enjoy a coffee. They were having a pirate-themed week, which added to more fun. My daughter enjoyed a treasure chest (Rice Krispies squares with chocolate gold coins) and a Davey Jones root beer while I enjoyed a wonderful blueberry scone and a latté. What a great way to end a fun afternoon outing in Blyth!

To find out more about attractions in Huron County, visit online.




Blyth Memorial Community Hall is a 444-seat theatre owned by the Municipality of North Huron. It is home to the Blyth Centre for the Arts, which includes the Blyth Festival, a professional summer theatre that produces new Canadian plays. Check its 2015 season here.

423 Queen St., Blyth. Phone: 519-523-9300 Toll free: 1-877-862-5984

Queen’s Bakery is a coffee shop and bakery located in a former apothecary on the main street of Blyth. Lunch served.

430 Queen St., Blyth. Phone: 226-523-9720

Kruger Brothers: Like being at a kitchen party

13 Mar
The Kruger Brothers concert at The Livery in Goderich was presented by the Celtic Roots Festival.

The Kruger Brothers concert at The Livery was presented by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival.

By Diva Claire Carter

GODERICH – I am always amazed by the quality of entertainment in Huron County.  I had the pleasure of attending a Kruger Brothers concert at the Livery in Goderich on Wednesday night.  This event was presented by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, a group that has a history of bringing fantastic talent to the area every August.

I brought my dad along, as we have a tradition of attending the Celtic Festival together.  This was the third time we’d heard the Kruger Brothers preform. The group, born in Europe and now based in North Carolina, has a very loyal following.  The group’s sound is described as bluegrass-acoustic-roots.  Their sounds make me feel like I’m at a kitchen party on the east coast or in Ireland.

Jens Kruger was recently awarded with the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo, and it is easy

The Livery, Goderich.

The Livery, Goderich.

to understand why.  The show featured both instrumental songs (many from Appalachan Concerto) and vocals.  There was a good mix of original and cover music.   It seemed the group really knew the audience, as I heard many times at intermission and after the show that they’d played someone’s favourite song.  The song I liked the best was Carolina in the Fall.  The band interacted with the audience after the show, autographing CDs and talking about their love of Huron County.

The Kruger Brothers won’t be attending the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival this year.  The band flies to Switzerland next week, and will be performing and delivering workshops throughout Europe and the United States for the next few months.  The festival attracts different performers each year from around the world.  The lineup for this year has just been released, and it is fantastic!  The full lineup can be found here.

I’m most excited to see the Great Lakes Swimmers and Dave Gunning.  As usual, there is a great balance of North American and European musicians.  There are four different stages, and a fantastic food area.  I’m really looking forward to discovering new music while enjoying a delicious ice cream cone in Lions Harbour Park.  After things wind down on stage, I’d suggest heading to the Park House, where the live entertainment continues.

Tickets can be purchased for the full three days of the festival ($70 for adults, $65 for seniors), or for single days ($25-$35 for adults, $20-$30 for seniors).  Concerts begin at 11 a.m., and end at midnight on Friday and Saturday, and at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information on the 2015 Celtic Roots Festival, visit online, or call (519) 524-8221.

Lunchtime organ concert runs Fridays through Lent

21 Feb 20150220organ2trivitt

By Diva Heather Boa

EXETER – Close your eyes and you can hear the organist tease resonating notes from cool air on the finicky pipe organ or feel the sound vibrate through your seat and into your bones from the digital organ during a lunchtime concert in the sanctuary of Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church in Exeter.

Open your eyes and let the hymns by great composers such as Brahms, Handel and Bach become background music

Dr. Richard Heinzle, organist and music director of Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, hosts a lunchtime concert every Friday through Lent.

Dr. Richard Heinzle, organist and music director of Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, hosts a lunchtime concert every Friday through Lent.

to the sights in this magnificent church, built in 1888 and funded by Thomas Trivitt, Justice of the Peace in Huron County – the sun shining through stained glass scenes from the bible, Neo-Gothic architecture of tall narrow windows with pointed arches at the top and arched ceilings accentuated by wooden beams, the majestic bells that represent a full octave, which have temporarily been removed from the five-storey bell tower and line the church aisle.

It’s your choice how to best appreciate 40 minutes of organ music in the church sanctuary.

Every Friday until the end of Lent (the end of March), Trivitt’s organist and music director Dr. Richard Heinzle will present a lunchtime concert, inviting any and all to take a seat in pews usually reserved for the choir and enjoy their own brown bag lunch while he plays the pipe organ and the digital organ. (Just a note based on my own experience: A crunchy apple is probably not the best choice for lunch.)

Since early 2014, Richard has been music director and organist at Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church in Exeter and music director of the South Huron Community Choirs, part of outreach efforts by the church. He is also a board member of the Bach Music Festival of Canada, which will take place in Exeter this summer.

Richard introduces each hymn, telling us, for example, before he plays Bach’s Jesus, My Joy that most works were playbillimprovisational but the composer put together this piece in order to teach students how to improvise and to explore the different ways pieces could be put together.

There are just two visitors to this first concert, but Richard was undaunted and hopes word will spread and more cushions will be filled in the coming weeks.

He also wants people to know about the upcoming Hymn Sing Marathon planned for Saturday, Feb. 28 at the church. People are invited to drop anytime from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to make a cash or food donation to the Exeter and Area Community Food Bank and sing along as he plays through one verse of each song in the hymn book. He says many of the hymns in the Anglican hymn book are the same as in other hymn books, so you’ll be able to sing some familiar hymns as well as some new ones.

For more information on Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, visit this website.


2015022020organ4trivittLunchtime Organ Concert: If you go

What: Organ Concert At Lunch, a brown bag concert series

When: Every Friday through Lent, until March 27, starting at 12:15 p.m. and ending at 12:55 p.m.

Where: Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church’s sanctuary, 264 Main St. S., Exeter

How much: Goodwill offering. Suggested $5

What else: Dress warmly





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