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.

 

Blyth Festival Singers concert a fitting tribute to the end of WWII

13 Apr
Artist Director Sharon Poelstra invites the audience to join Blyth Festival Singers in singing The Maple Leaf Forever.

Artist Director Sharon Poelstra invites the audience to join Blyth Festival Singers in singing The Maple Leaf Forever.

heather boaBy Diva Heather Boa

BLYTH – The advertising poster promised a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II by the Blyth Festival Singers, with special guests The Howlin’ Dog Vintage Jazz Band.

But that poster couldn’t possibly capture just how fantastic the carefully crafted two-hour performance of Songs of Wartime and Peace at the Blyth Memorial Hall would be. It wasn’t just a playbill of popular songs like Sentimental Journey, The Maple Leaf Forever and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, or uncovered gems like In Flanders Fields and Distant Land. Instead, it strung together music, solos, sing-alongs, readings and commentary that invited the audience into one big parlour party.

Under direction of Artistic Director Sharon Poelstra, The Blyth Festival Singers brings together a

Cara Stephenson performs Don't Get Around Much Anymore.

Cara Stephenson performs Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

talented collection of 38 voices accompanied by Lori Millian. At the same time, the arrangements highlighted numerous singers, through no less than five solos, a fun and energetic dance performance of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore by Cara Stephenson, and a poignant reading from his memoirs by Tom Hennessey.

The audience was invited to join in singing The Maple Leaf Forever and It’s A Long Way to Tipperary, and a few voices floated up from the audience during other popular tunes.

The Howlin’ Dog Vintage Jazz Band, known to many because they play local venues like Goderich’s

The Howlin' Dog Vintage Jazz Band.

The Howlin’ Dog Vintage Jazz Band.

The Park House, subscribed to one of the great jazz cornerstones – improvisation – by winging much of its sets. The musicians held their first practice with the day’s replacement trombone player Paul Dearlove just hours before they were set to take the stage. They strayed from the program, dropping some songs and picking up others. They debated who would lead them into a song, with trumpet player Al Mullin telling the audience, “This is jazz. We gotta figure it out as we go.” And in the end, it all came together beautifully.

Blyth Festival’s artistic director, Gil Garrett, performed two readings from this season’s premiere

Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garrett reads from Mary's Wedding, which premieres in the 2015 season at The Blyth Festival.

Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garrett reads from Mary’s Wedding, which premieres in the 2015 season at The Blyth Festival.

performance of Mary’s Wedding. He read from a letter written to Mary from her love, Charlie, a young soldier who describes the battle scene at France’s Moreuil Wood, jumping his mare over his fallen sergeant and feeling his saber pierce through another man’s body. He also did a reading from Mary’s wedding day, when she weds someone else. The readings gave time for the choir to quietly file in after the jazz band’s sets.

How fitting too that the event should take place in the Blyth Memorial Community Hall, which is home to the Blyth Festival, the Blyth Festival Singers, the Blyth Festival Orchestra and the Blyth Festival Art Gallery. The hall was originally built to commemorate the lost soldiers of World War I.

Coming Up: The Next Generation- Cabaret Concert

When: Saturday, May 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Varna Complex, Varna

What: Blyth Festival Singers’ cabaret dinner and concert featuring young up-and-coming soloists from Huron and Perth, which will be the next generation of musicians to perform alongside Blyth Festival Singers. Music at this concert will be more light-hearted and popular in style and theme, to bring its season to a close in true celebratory fashion.

How: Tickets, $25, available at the Blyth Festival Box Office or from Choir Members.

Unnecessary Farce draws necessary laughs

9 Apr
The cast takes a much deserved bow at the end of the dress rehearsal.

The cast takes a much deserved bow at the end of the dress rehearsal.

rachellynnBy Diva Rachel Lynn

GODERICH – Tuesday evening, I attended what’s referred to as the soft opening of Unnecessary Farce, the final “practice” before opening night of this Goderich Little Production on April 9.

There were many in the audience and the cast treated it as a true performance.

Written by Paul Slade Smith and directed by local Goderich-ite Nina Reynolds, Unnecessary Farce is being staged at The Livery Theatre in Goderich. The play is about two cops who are undercover in a cheap motel, trying to catch the mayor in a $16-million embezzlement scheme with the help of one “HOT” accountant. Add in Agent Frank (Jordan Henry), and “Big Mac,” you have one perfect recipe for suspense and laughter.

But it’s so much more than that. From the beginning, I was laughing and sometimes covered my

Confusion leads to hilarity in Unnecessary Farce, which opens tonight, April 9.

Confusion leads to hilarity in Unnecessary Farce, which opens tonight, April 9.

mouth I was laughing so loud. A word of advice, don’t cover your mouth. Laugh out loud. For me, it’s one of the best sounds on this planet. Now and then, the actors had to wait until the laughter died down to deliver their next line. Officer Dwyer (Eric Lubbers) and Sheraton (Shawn Van Osch) have a great back and forth banter as the incompetent cops who keep messing up. Ms. Brown (Jenna Leifso), the accountant, keeps taking her clothes off, but it’s not what you think. Agent Frank arrives to protect the mayor and search the room for “bugs”. Is Agent Frank who he says he is?

By the end of the show, I was laughed out and my cheeks hurt.

Bring a friend or family to see this wonderfully hilarious comedy.

A caution, there is some mild swearing so it may not be appropriate for a younger audience.

“The Livery itself has a grand history. Records indicate that the rear portion of The Livery was erected

The audience can watch events at The Livery in added comfort, now that the new seats are installed.

The audience can watch events at The Livery in added comfort, now that the new seats are installed.

during the 1840s as a harness shop by Samuel Seegmuller, trader in hides and whiskey along the Huron Trail between Guelph and Goderich.” In 1978, the building was almost demolished but, with the help of council and a private citizen, The Livery was saved. For more information on the history, please visit online.

Unnecessary Farce opens tonight, Thursday, April 9, at 8 p.m.

Additional dates: April 10,11,16,17, 18 at 8 p.m.; April 12 at 2 p.m.

For tickets, please visit The Livery’s box office at:
35 South St, Goderich or phone (519) 524-6262.

The Livery is also a venue for live music, film festivals and rentals. For more details, visit online.

Thursday night at the movies at Huron County Museum

8 Apr

movieconnections3

claireheadshotBy Diva Claire Carter

HURON COUNTY – The Huron County Museum just launched a new temporary exhibit called Movie Connections.  Artifacts from the collection and archives have been selected based on themes of movieconnections2popular classic movies.  Some were easy guesses (an awesome classic jukebox and cheerleading uniform), while others were less obvious (an old-fashioned wheelchair comes to mind).  The exhibit has been beautifully decorated, with objects in big, old wooden cases, and film reels on the walls.  Movie Connections seems like a great way to feature different objects and tell interesting local stories.

You may make the guessing game a little easier for yourself by taking a look at the list of featured films.  I’m told many of the films were selected from top 100 lists, and the collection is aimed to represent different decades in film-making.  There is a great variety, from serious to upbeat (Grease sing-along anyone??).

Films are included with the price of admission, and free for members of the Huron County Museum or any of its partner sites (Grey Roots, Bruce County Museum and movieconnections1Cultural Centre, Waterloo Region Museum and Simcoe County Museum.)  Popcorn will be served, and you can also bring in your own snacks.

Titanic (1997)– April 9

The Pianist (2002) – April 16

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – April 23

Citizen Kane (1941) – April 30

The Green Mile (1999) – May 7

The Young Victoria (2009) – May 14

Grease (1978) – May 21

The exhibit runs from April 7 through May 23.  Films will be shown in the Huron County Museum Theatre each Thursday evening, starting at 7 p.m., with an extra showing of The Young Victoria on Victoria Day Weekend.

Admission: Adults. $7.50; Seniors aged 65+, $6.50; Students aged 11+ & in school, $5.50; Children aged 6 to 11, $4; Family living in same residence, $25; Pre-schoolers up to age 5, free, and; Members, free. HST extra.

The Huron County Museum is located at 110 North Street, Goderich.  For more information, call 519-524-2686, or email museum@huroncounty.ca

movieconnections

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

8 Apr

easteregghunt from Heather Boa on Vimeo.


 

rachellynn

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

egg1

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, sw.harris@hotmail.com


Blyth Easter Egg Hunt and Craft

egg2
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
egg3
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
egg4
Date:  Saturday, April 4
Time:  10 a.m.
Location:  Howick Arena
Details:  Easter Egg Hunt
Cost:  Free
Contact:  Email rtjessome@gmail.com

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
egg6
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
egg7
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.)

Eddington’s of Exeter: These gourmet pizzas are way outside of the cardboard box

30 Mar

2015-03-26 20.58.51heather boaBy Diva Heather Boa

EXETER – To get the full experience, you should probably order all three wood oven gourmet pizzas that are offered on Thursday nights at Eddington’s of Exeter.

Maybe it means a few slices are boxed for late night snacking or breakfast, but if you don’t order all three, you’ll miss out on a unique taste experience.

For example, March 26 featured three pizzas: garlicky, bacon-riddled three-cheese with hunks of perogies; slices of tomatoes and pieces of meatballs in a punchy tomato sauce, topped with a glorious helping of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, and; pieces of caramelized chicken and cinnamon-laced apple slices lying in a creamy layer of brie cheese.

The pizza, par cooked in a wood oven, is finished at a high temperature. Photos by James Eddington.

The pizza, par cooked in a wood oven, is finished at a high temperature. Photos by James Eddington.

The thin-crust pizza was just the right consistency of tender-chewy, which is an added bonus for me since I eat pizza with a knife and fork and it can be frustrating to try to cut through a crisp crust.

The consensus at my table was that the caramelized chicken, apple and brie pizza was the favourite, but the beauty of Gourmet Pizza Night at Eddington’s is there are three new offerings every Thursday night for eat-in or take-out. (To order all three is $47, including tax.)

We rolled into the restaurant a little late in the evening for the Huron County crowd, after finagling an 8:30 p.m. reservation, and were greeted at the door of this renovated century home by none other than chef James Eddington.

Without prompting, we hung our coats on the hooks at the end of the foyer, just as we would at home, and made our way through the restaurant, which is blocked off in rooms. (In the summer, they open a quiet patio at the back of the building.) At that time of night, there was just one other table, finishing off their dinner with a celebratory birthday sundae with a sparkler on top. Our waitress was efficient and casual, the feel of the restaurant was friendly and welcoming, and the atmosphere was quiet – which was surprising since that one nearby table of six was celebrating a birthday.

It’s a little bit formal with linens and heavy cutlery, but jeans and a nice shirt will get you through the door.

We didn’t even look at the menus, and ordered three 10-inch pizzas along with a couple pints of Honey Elixir from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas. The strong, tasty brew paired nicely with the pizzas.

Chef James said he is working on a plan to offer only micro-brewed beers at his restaurant.

Now, I don’t want to leave people with the impression that Eddington’s is in the business only of making pizza.

Because that just isn’t so.

Chef James was carefully building lunch and dinner menus around local meat and produce long before the local food movement became a trend. His menu changes seasonally to reflect all that southwestern Ontario has to offer. For his efforts, Chef James was recently named Culinary Feature Artist and will be featured in the live auction at the annual Conservation Dinner hosted by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority on April 16.

“When James prepares a meal, it reflects much of the inspiration, creativity, expertise, and visual appeal found in paintings and visual art,” said Paul Anstett, Chairman of the Conservation Dinner Committee, in a press release.

For more information on dining in Huron County, please visit Ontario’s West Coast website.


 

Gourmet Pizza Night

Choose from three unique wood oven gourmet pizzas.

When: Every Thursday night

Where: 527 Main St., Exeter. Eat-in or take-out

Reserve:  By calling 519-235-3030

More information: Lunch 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; Dinner 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday Evenings; Closed Sunday/Monday

Email: wine@execulink.com


Driving distance:

From Seaforth: 25 minutes

From Bayfield: 30 minutes

From Masonville Mall, London: 30 minutes

From Goderich: 45 minutes

From Stratford: 40 minutes

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