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Migrating tundra swans land in Huron County

27 Mar
These tundra swans let down their landing gear over a farmer's field near Seaforth today. Photos courtesy of Exeter photographer Bonnie Sitter.

These tundra swans let down their landing gear over a farmer’s field near Seaforth today. Photos courtesy of Exeter photographer Bonnie Sitter.

SEAFORTH – It’s spring, and while most of us are looking forward to warmer days, the majestic white tundra swans are making their way back from Chesapeake Bay, Maryland to the Arctic Circle for summer vacation.

Along their arduous route, they can be spotted at annual staging areas in farmers’ fields and open waters, which provide them with food and rest.

For a full description of their migration, visit The Friends of the Pinery Park’s website.

tundraswans

The Little Inn undergoes big makeover

25 Mar
The Willow Room formal dining room’s moniker is a nod to the stately willow tree residing near the inn’s front entrance.  The Inn’s new owners, along with Chef Michael Potters, have many plans for the future of the property including pairing with Huron Adventures Inc. to create specific activities and programs for guests and corporate enterprises.

The Willow Room formal dining room’s moniker is a nod to the stately willow tree residing near the inn’s front entrance. The Inn’s new owners, along with Chef Michael Potters, have many plans for the future of the property including pairing with Huron Adventures Inc. to create specific activities and programs for guests and corporate enterprises.

melody

By Diva Melody Hodgson

BAYFIELD – Bayfield, in all of its summertime quaintness, brings about the dreamer in me.  I fell in

1.Reception desk with custom pigeon holes for room keys, one of the many gorgeous throwbacks to original inn utilitarian decor.

Reception desk with custom pigeon holes for room keys, one of the many gorgeous throwbacks to the original inn utilitarian decor.

love with the little town upon first sight back in 2006.  It is my go-to for a Sunday drive, lunch on a Friday or a night out with the gals.  I am not alone in my infatuation with Bayfield. The main street is packed with shoppers, foodies and visitors year-round.

Joanne and Mike Oliver, originally from Toronto, were two such visitors.  A short detour to Bayfield while visiting their son in Blyth two years ago resulted in an instant love affair with the lakeside town.  Fortunately for us, Mike and Joanne were able to transform their moment of serendipity into a permanent residence and place of business; a casual lunch conversation eventually resulted in the couple becoming the new owners of the Little Inn last October.

Joanne and Mike, paired with much-sought after local interior designer Cynthia Weber and

Function meets design heaven in the revamped bar area, home to the Four In Hand taproom.  Master Sommelier John Szabo has realized a menu filled with wine, spirits and cocktails to compliment both menus.  I am thirsty just thinking about it.

Function meets design heaven in the revamped bar area, home to the Four In Hand taproom. Master Sommelier John Szabo has realized a menu filled with wine, spirits and cocktails to compliment both menus. I am thirsty just thinking about it.

renowned locavore chef Michael Potters, have painstakingly renovated the Inn in an effort to create a true culinary destination within Bayfield.  Throughout the entire renovation process, the team have been respectful of the inn’s deep-rooted historical ties to the community.  Original flooring has been refinished and restored, traditional inn features have been reimagined, and local Mennonite craftsmen have been hired to recreate a multitude of items from stair-railing spindles to matching the original baseboard in the taproom.  Chef Potters has embraced the richness of local Huron County producers and created two menus of pure deliciousness I can hardly wait to experience.  Their unwavering dedication to the vision of the project is obvious.  The entire time I was with Joanne, I felt that their goal was not to take the soul out of the Little Inn, but rather to give it a little boost.  From all accounts, they have succeeded beautifully.

1.Locally crafted custom period spindles to replace the 1980s wrought iron spindles; another of the many well thought out design aspects of the renovation.

1. Locally crafted custom period spindles to replace the 1980s wrought iron spindles; another of the many well thought out design aspects of the renovation.

I must admit, I have never ventured into the Little Inn prior to last week.  I always felt it was a little too fancy for my sometimes-brushed-hair and ripped jeans, and as a result I’ve always been more of a low-key pub girl.  After meeting with Joanne and touring the property, however, I feel like I may have to make a little room in my heart for the new kids on the block.

The Little Inn of Bayfield

Where:  26 Main Street, Bayfield

When:  Soft opening March 27th, grand opening April

Willow Room (Fine Dining), daily

Breakfast:  8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Dinner:  5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

The Four In Hand Taproom (Casual Dining), daily
11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Contact:  1-800-565-1832, inquiries@littleinn.com

Website:  www.littleinn.com

Twitter:  @thelittleinn

Chef Michael Potters has designed a kitchen most chefs can only dream of.  With plans for small group cooking classes, local food foraging programs and a viewing area from the yet-to-be completed patio it has all the makings of a locavore’s heaven.

Chef Michael Potters has designed a kitchen most chefs can only dream of. With plans for small group cooking classes, local food foraging programs and a viewing area from the yet-to-be completed patio it has all the makings of a locavore’s heaven.

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.

Ten Great Things to do in Huron County this March Break

13 Mar

 

File Photo.

File Photo.

  1. Families can spend every day of the week at Huron County Museum, where there’s always something going on. There’s the Drop-In Family Games Room, with oldies like Atari, Nintendo, crokinole and vintage crafts. Or Movie Madness, complete with popcorn. Follow the clues on a self-guided quest for answers then enter a draw for an iPad Mini or dinner & movie night for the whole family. And, finally, there’s a History Hall App Launch Party preceded by a showing of vintage footage from Huron County main streets.
  2. Get outdoors for Maple Magic Sugar Shack at Samuels Hotel on Saturday, March 13. Come out for horse drawn sleigh rides, Robinson Maple Products maple tours, activities, heated patio, hot alcohol and non-alcohol drinks all day, and a maple-themed dessert extravaganza.
  3. The Municipality of North Huron has a week of day camps, with bowling, tropical games, candy sports, skating and swimming. As well, there are daily swimming and skating times.
  4. Catch the Peter Mennie’s Abra Kid Abra Magic Show at the Blyth Festival on Saturday, March 21 at 1 p.m. You and your kids will get a big laugh. Then afterwards, head across the road to Queen’s Bakery for a hot chocolate and a treat.
  5. Spend a few hours on the lanes at Little Bowl in Goderich. They’ve got specials on two games and shoes package and two hours all you can bowl package.
  6. Strap on the skates for free ice time at the Central Huron Community Complex, courtesy of the local Optimist Club. There are time slots for figure skating, shinny and public skating.
  7. Travel through ancient Egypt, the Wild West, the Medieval Times, and even back to the future during March Break activities for the whole family at the YMCA in Central Huron.
  8. Bingo, martial arts, shinny, a walk on the McNaughton-Morrison Trail, and plenty of other activities are on the slate of events during March Break in the Municipality of South Huron.
  9. The warm weather makes it a great time for an outdoor hike. The Watershed Outdoor Club hosts a Signs of Spring and Hiking Smart on Thursday. This event is part of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority’s programming.
  10. For the 66th year running, Goderich arenas will be the battlegrounds for some of the best Pee Wee hockey around, with the Goderich Lions’ Young Canada Week. Watch boys and girls team compete through the week.

 

Time to explore the trail systems in Huron County

11 Mar
This stunning canopy of trees can be found on the Mara Street Walkway, which is part of the Heritage Trail in Bayfield. Photo courtesy of Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects.

This stunning canopy of trees can be found on the Mara Street Walkway, which is part of the Heritage Trail in Bayfield. Photo courtesy of Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Outside Projects.

HURON COUNTY – Now that the days are getting longer and a warm breeze has blown into Huron County, the conditions are perfect to get out to cross-country ski, snowshoe or hike the many trail systems across our woodlands, riverbanks and countryside.

Here are a couple of top picks to get you started. Explore more of the county’s natural areas and trails here.

1. Picks ( and pics) from Heidi & Tyler Hessel, Owners, Outside Projects of Bayfield

The Sawmill Trail, Bayfield.

The Sawmill Trail, Bayfield.

We often enjoy snowshoeing the many trails in and around Bayfield. All are easily accessible and within a light to moderate difficulty level. They’re easy for anyone to get out and enjoy the winter even if you are simply hiking or have on a pair of snowshoes. Maps and information about these trails can be found on the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association website.

The Mavis / Taylor Trail, Varna.

The Mavis / Taylor Trail, Varna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Picks (and pic) from Phil Beard, General Manager / Secretary Treasurer, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

I like to go on the Wingham Community Trail extension, which goes out to the new elementary school in Wingham, aptly named the Maitland River

Wingham Community Trail extension.

Wingham Community Trail extension.

Elementary School. Behind the school is a farmfield that is proposed for the Wingham Creek Subdivision.

There is an easement around the field for an extension to the Wingham Community Trail. A lot of people cross country ski on this property. It connects with the parkland owned by North Huron that extends along the Maitland River.

WinghamTrailExtension

 

Goderich Makers Market carries hint of spring

7 Mar
The smell of freshly ground coffee from Coastal Coffee Company assails every visitor at the Goderich Makers Market.

The smell of freshly ground coffee from Coastal Coffee Company assails every visitor at the Goderich Makers Market.

By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – A sure sign of spring? The first sighting at the Goderich Makers Market of tender green pea shoots with stems that grew long from trying to reach the winter’s sun.

peashootsShoppers gravitated to the patch of greens so neatly tucked between plastic containers of chicken broth and jars of beets and carrots, in a building full of vendors selling roasted coffee, honey, chocolate croissants, soft pretzels, soups, soaps and other homemade offerings. True, the pea shoots were grown in a greenhouse, taking advantage of the sunny winter days, but they were still prized for all that they promise in the months to come.

One wall of the market, held at Goderich’s MacKay Centre on the first Saturday of the month through the winter, was once again taken up with baskets of carrots, potatoes, turnips, beats, cooking onions and apples, much to the delight of shoppers. Folks commented on the vendor’s absence through the dead of winter.

makersmarketOut on the floor, neighbours stopped to compare winter holiday stories and chat about summer markets, planting techniques and all things sunny and warm.

A quick door check of one shopper yielded a bag of potatoes and a bag of beets, pepperettes, two cartons of eggs and some chocolate dipped pretzels for the road. All that while balancing a cup of coffee from Coastal Coffee Company.

The winter market is the brainchild of Amy Zoethout and Donna-Jean Forster-Gill of Feast for Good, who wanted to share their love of locally produced food and goods.

The market continues through April and May, until the opening of the Goderich Farmers Market opens Saturday, May 16.

Other communities throughout Huron County also host farmers markets through the summer months. For more information on these summer markets, visit online.

If you go to the Goderich Makers Market:

Date: First Saturday of the month. April 4 & May 2.

Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: MacKay Centre, 10 Nelson St. E., Goderich

Things you should know: Best to bring cash rather than relying on debit or credit.

 

Indie folk duo perform in Brussels

7 Mar

North Country Towers, March 6, 2015 from Heather Boa on Vimeo.

By Diva Heather Boa

BRUSSELS – It would be easy to walk past the unremarkable door beside the entrance to the Brussels’ laundromat without a second glance. But the more observant passersby will notice a sign in the transom window above the door that reads: The Upper Deck. And on this Friday evening, groups of one and two and five are passing through the door and climbing the steep steps to a small concert hall to hear North Country Towers, acoustic duo Thomas Beard and Caleb Smith.

The low-ceiling hall is arranged with a series of cabaret tables and folding chairs. The front window overlooking the village’s main street is covered with black floor-length curtains. A piano is set at one side of a stage, a series of drums at the other side, proof that the space is a regular venue for musicians. The place is packed with family, friends and music lovers. Many have come to hear Thomas, who is from Wingham. He and Caleb, from North Bay, now attend university in Montreal.

Acoustic duo Thomas Beard and Caleb Smith perform at The Upper Deck in Brussels.

Acoustic duo Thomas Beard and Caleb Smith perform at The Upper Deck in Brussels.

Then Thomas settles the cello into his lap and Caleb pulls his guitar into his hip, and something quite magical happens. The guy in the sports coat and scuffed black dress shoes playing an instrument often found in an orchestra and the fellow in the black vest and red socks playing an instrument at home in country bars and rock bands find the perfect pitch. The instruments take their turns in the spotlight, sometimes upbeat and playful, other times slow and mournful. Then Caleb’s strong vocals cut in. You give in and let it consume you.

The mostly original playbill speaks of saving princesses and slaying dragons, a bride and groom finding love in their differences, losing binds with the right person at your side, and finding it funny how the smell of dead things and rain can make you feel so great.

Their enthusiasm is a pleasure to watch. It’s fresh and invigorating. They laugh at each other at each song’s end, but look like they’d rather give each other a high five. In fact, high fives all round.

“They’re so adorable I wanna pinch their cheeks,” said a woman sitting nearby.

Before the duo began, the hall’s owner, Jim Lee, took to the stage, holding up an empty fish bowl for the audience to see.

“This is how they’re going to get paid tonight,” he said, reminding folks the fish bowl would be set up at the back of the hall when they’re ready to make donations.

“ We have a little saying at Cinnamon Jim’s: ‘Keeping live music alive’ and this is what it’s all about,” he said.

Live music can be found at venues across Huron County. Check Ontario’s West Coast events calendar for more information.

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