Tag Archives: Huron County

I am telling my friends: Go cut Footloose!

27 Jul
Colin Sheen and Company in Footloose, 2015 Season. Photographer: Darlene O’Rourke.

Colin Sheen and Company in Footloose, 2015 Season. Photographer: Darlene O’Rourke.

By Diva Caroline Thuss

I am feeling a flashback after enjoying another stellar musical at the Huron Country Playhouse near Grand Bend yesterday.

From the neon coloured clothing, teased hair with scrunchies, acid washed jeans and large wads of chewing gum, the cast of Footloose: The Dance Musical in Sunday’s opening performance had me looking through old photos from my childhood and reminiscing about what growing up in the 1980s was like (even though I was very young when the original Footloose movie was released).

Having the pleasure of taking in several of the offerings so far this Drayton Entertainment season, I was excited at the opportunity to see another hit.  This time I was up in the balcony and I was pleasantly surprised by how good the view was. The rows were staggered so that even if the person in front of me shifted a lot in his seat it would not affect my view of the stage. Definitely worth considering getting tickets up there the next time.

As soon as the curtains open, the audience starts to feed off the high energy of the ensemble of “Footloose” and it allows us to get the feel for Colin Sheen as the defiant outsider, Ren McCormack. Sheen oozes talent (who can rollerskate like that anymore?) with his vocal talents, dance moves and looks the role of the teen heartthrob. I enjoyed Sheen as Gilbert and Danielle Wade as Anne in Anne of Green Gables earlier this season. The chemistry between Sheen and Danielle Wade, who plays Ariel, is evident in the pair’s rendition of “Almost Paradise” although my theatre companion thought it was a bit corny…that was the traditional love ballad of the ‘80s! Wade is able to portray the multiple sides of Ariel with ease and belts out one of my favourite tunes “Holding Out for a Hero” with passion.

I found that as good as Sheen and Wade are in their leading roles – and they are both excellent – my favourite scenes are the ones with Nick Settimi as Ren’s dancing challenged friend, Willard and Jade Repeta as Ariel’s friend, Rusty. The number of one-liners that Settimi delivers has the audience cheering for him and Repeta’s rendition of “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” had me dancing (and very quietly singing) along in my seat.

Director and choreographer Timothy French has put together a solid cast filled with amazing talent and backed by a great orchestra led by the incredibly talented Craig Fair. The ensemble was great as well with some very talented dancers. It was easy to hate David Cotton’s character of Chuck Cranston, Ariel’s abusive boyfriend. I was hoping that Ren would knock him out at several points.

Victor A. Young delivers a very moving performance as the Reverend Shaw Moore. In his song near the end of the show, “Heaven Help Me,” Young wrings every ounce of emotion out of it he can. Susan Gilmore as the Reverend’s wife, Vi, Rebecca Poff as Ren’s single mother, Ethel, and Wade come together beautifully for “Learning to be Silent”.

Once the cast kicks off their Sunday shoes for the finale, the audience was all up, clapping and dancing along with the ensemble. I can almost guarantee that you will leave the theatre dancing and singing too!

Footloose: The Dance Musical runs until August 8.

Tickets are $42 for adults and $25 for youth under 20 years of age. Tickets for preview performances and groups of 20 or more are $34. Tickets may be purchased online, in person at the Drayton Entertainment Box Offices, or by calling (519) 238-6000 or toll free 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).

Bayfield’s Pioneer Park is the picture of tranquility

11 Jun

Pioneer Park from Heather Boa on Vimeo.

By Diva Rachel Lynn

BAYFIELD – Pioneer Park is located on a beautiful bluff in the village of Bayfield. On the morning I arrived, there was a couple
pioneer park bike racksitting on the south end looking out to the water and another couple on the north end reading books. I could hear sailboatsthe birds chirping and the sweet smell of summer was in there air.

According to the park’s website, in 1945, Lucy Woods Diehl, a long-time resident of Bayfield asked friends of the community to preserve the last piece of undeveloped lakefront property overlooking the Bayfield River and Lake Huron. In the end, Lucy gathered eight friends along with herself to purchase the park land. Lucy thought the land should be owned and operated by an association, not by individuals contracted out.
Activities take place at the park to help raise money, including the rummage sale (originating in 1948). In the first 30 years, there were also film nights, outdoor plays and puppet shows. Today, Saturday night steps down to beach pioneer parkentertainment and weddings are among the activities that take place.

The 68th annual rummage sale takes place on the second Friday in July at the Bayfield Arena and Fairgrounds. Admission is free.


 

About the Park

Location: on the bluff overlooking Lake Huron bordered by Bayfield Terrace to the north, Tuyll St to the east, and Colina St on the South.

Driving distance: One hour north of Sarnia or Port Huron, Michigan

For more information: www.pioneerparkbayfield.ca

 

Miniature horses a big hit with kids at Clinton Spring Fair

8 Jun

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By Diva Christine Harris

CLINTON – The annual Clinton Spring Fair drew a good crowd again this year, from the Friday opening ceremonies through to the Sunday miniature horse show.

miniature1On Sunday, the midway had its bracelet day where you could ride all the rides for one price, and in the show ring REACH Huron, the local equine centre, the miniature horses were in competition.  The Miniature Horse Show is part of the American Miniature Horse Association that holds shows in the U.S. and Canada.  With 30 different classes during this competition, there is something for everyone to see.

The kids in the stands were quite interested to see this small breed of horses, which must not exceed 34 inches to enter the show.

miniature3Ribbons are awarded for first to sixth place, but each one is hoping for that blue ribbon when they enter the arena to have their horse judged.  Though the prize money isn’t huge, you can tell the pride is when the winner leaves the circle.

Now in its 161st year, organizers have it down to a successful science, with a full lineup of events, including the demolition derby, canine agility show, homecrafts, talent search, parade, mini-tractor pull and other family events.

If you missed this great community event, then mark July 3 to 5 on your calendar for the annual Kinsmen Pluckinfest in Clinton, with a street dance, teddy bear parade, chicken barbecue, holeyboard competition – if you don’t know what that is, then you’re in for some exciting times – firemen’s breakfast , town-wide yard sale and more. For more information, check the Kinsmen website or to find out more about the community, check out the Municipality of Central Huron’s website.

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Nosing around Exeter’s downtown unearths some great treasures

4 Jun
The beautiful exterior draws visitors in to Seasonals.

The beautiful exterior draws visitors in to Seasonals.

By Diva Jennifer Mossop

EXETER – There is hidden treasure in Exeter, Ontario.

The town is known for its beautiful buildings and parks, as well as a classic, South Western Ontario Main Street of yellow brick

Exeter is known for sweet shop Sugar and Spice Chocolates.

Exeter is known for sweet shop Sugar and Spice Chocolates.

facades.   And, while most know about long-standing favourites like Eddington’s of Exeter and Sugar and Spice Chocolates, there are some lesser known gems for noshing and retail pleasure.

Exeter’s annual Ladies Night Out is a great chance to check out the newer, the lesser known, or the ones you haven’t managed to visit before, as well as the old favourites. Dozens of places offer discounts, specials, treats and samples to turn an evening of shopping into an event.

Consignment product is artfully displayed at Luv Scarlett.

Consignment product is artfully displayed at Luv Scarlet.

First stop was Luv Scarlet – the new tenant of one of Main Street’s lovely old buildings. It is a mixture of very good consignment – gently used or new clothing, shoes and hand bags, scrumptiously arranged in the high ceiling brick walled store. A gourmet coffee bar and retro fridge filled with old fashioned glass bottles of Coke offer a way to slake thirst, while the weekly Saturday table of to-die-for baked goods gives this place a feel of endless possibility.

Half a block to the North is another business finding possibility in every nook and cranny. Jennard Cheese, which boasts an excellent selection of cheeses, olive oils, maple syrups, gourmet goodies, alcohol free

There's even ice cream at Jennard Cheese Shop.

There’s even ice cream at Jennard Cheese.

wines, and gifts, has recently blasted a hole in the wall to the next shop. There, delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and, yes, ice cream are served.   It’s not unusual to see customers staring down at their café tables as they pore over the historic pictures and articles acting as a glass covered tablecloth, while the yellow brick walls showcase local art.

Next stop, Willow Valley – a new addition to the décor scene, which already includes such spots as Inner Urban, Interior Concepts, Custom Covers, and the creative Bella Casa. Willow Valley offers expert decorating services, along with an irresistible array of interior delights to take home on a whim. Antiques, including sometimes hard-to-find items, are found here.

Seasonals is housed in a quaint little single storey, rambling house (yes, yellow brick) and deserves a real exploration. I have long noticed, and long not visited, this cornucopia. Don’t rush through this tiny maze of garden, home, and body décor. You will find a treasure at a good price to tuck in your pocket and take home.

Finally, a trip to Miller’s Country Store. I am always speeding up, or just barely slowing down, when I catch sight of the sign in the South East end of Exeter on Thames Road. But this time, I slowed right down, and turned in. Again, an eclectic and fun mix of offerings – authentic farm, fun garden, gifts, toys and a mix of pet, farm and wild animal supplies are all available.

If Exeter isn’t a regular stop for you, make a point of getting there. And if you are a regular, set aside a little extra time to nose around this Town, and enjoy the discovery of hidden treasure.

The Ashwood Bourbon Bar: New, yet pleasantly familiar

26 May
Even the bar is filled with patrons on this busy Saturday night.

Even the bar is filled with patrons on this busy Saturday night.

By Diva Heather Boa
BAYFIELD – It’s Saturday night on the American long weekend and there’s a sense of anticipation at The Ashwood, this village’s newest hotel with bourbon bar and restaurant.

In its first days of opening for The Ashwood Bourbon Bar, people have come to see first-hand what they’ve only seen in pictures

The Ashwood owner Kirsten Harrett at the front counter.

The Ashwood owner Kirsten Harrett at the front counter.

on the website and social media – the massive tree trunk that serves as the lobby counter, living edge highly polished tables with leather placemats, barrel vault ceilings above the bar that are lined with oak staves held in place by metal straps, an expansive L-shaped bar with oodles of bottles filled with all sorts of exotic liquids, and wait staff in aprons of heavy canvas and leather straps.

It’s all so new and intriguing and yet there’s something comfortably familiar about the bar. First, there’s owner Kirten Harrett who is greeting people this evening. She’s owned the Deer Park Lodge, just across the road, for a number of years, before purchasing the old Bayfield Village Inn and transforming it into its current state. There’s Peter Meades behind the bar, well-known for Meades Bros. Productions, which books entertainment at various venues in the village – and now he’s booked an eclectic lineup of Canadian and international artists with an emphasis on roots music and singer-songwriters for the bar. See what the summer season brings on its event listings. Some of the wait staff are the teenaged children of people we know. And, of course, there’s opportunity to stop at various tables to say hello to folks who haven’t been seen all winter long. Even before we enter the bar, we meet up with some friends who have spilled out of The Ashwoody Shuttle, its funky shuttle bus.

In these early days of opening, chef Robert Whyte has created a limited menu of lunch and dinner items while the staff settle into

The Ultimate Ashwood Caesar, with King crab leg, is a favourite.

The Ultimate Ashwood Caesar, with King crab leg, is a favourite.

the routine. Tonight there’s a Mexican beef soup – I’ve forgotten it’s name, but I know that if I close my eyes while eating a mouthful of the spicy soup that’s topped with chopped avocado and sour cream, I am once again in Ajijic, Mexico. Also on the menu are: pan seared 10 oz New York steak with crispy fingerling potatoes, green beans and horseradish butter ($29), ratatouille with arancini and parmesan tuile ($18.50), lamb burger with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese, dressed with a tzatzki and tomato jam, served with chick pea fries ($16), trout with roasted fennel and tomato purée served with wilted spinach and a panzanella salad ($22).

It’s a wise decision on the chef’s part to create a small menu, and our service is seamless. Water glasses are always full and drinks are efficiently replaced. My lamb burger special ordered with no bun did indeed arrive bunless and, as requested, my glass of red wine arrived with the meal. I would dearly have loved to have ordered the Ultimate Ashwood Caesar, which comes with a King crab leg, or the Don Draper ($14), a mixture of double Makers Mark, bourbon soaked cherries, giant ice cubes and a Popeye smoke, but alas, I’m driving.

By the time we’re offered dessert, there’s only one taker for the bread pudding with a bourbon caramel sauce ($9), although the spoon does get passed around, with agreement that the sauce is just a bit too boozy.

When we leave, the place is full, with a long table of people who are filling time between a wedding and its reception, Americans on vacation, and locals who’ve come to check out the newest hotspot in Bayfield.

It’s shaping up to be a great summer in the village.

The high ceilings and line of windows give the bar an airy feel.

The high ceilings and line of windows give the bar an airy feel.

There’s a lot of history packed into village of Auburn

21 May
Main Street of Auburn.

Main Street of Auburn.

heather boaBy Diva Heather Boa

The main street of Auburn is pretty this time of year.

The road is surprisingly wide and grand trees are just starting to come into bloom. There’s a post office shingle and a number of sheds in which business might take place, but most of the buildings, including an ivy-covered church, on main street are now homes. There are no cars parallel parked at the side of the street and my car rolls quietly.

At this time of day, people are outside waiting. Waiting for the bus that will bring their children home from schools in neighbouring communities. A woman sits in her idling car in the church’s driveway. A mother and a her two youngsters sit on the steps in a doorway. A man on a bike waves as he rides by.

It’s worth a day trip to come poke around Auburn, if you’ve never turned off Cnty. Rd. 25 or Base Line Road. Check out the Huron Bay District Co-operative for garden flowers and supplies, maybe grab a bite to eat at the Auburn Grill or pack a lunch and enjoy it in the park down by the Maitland River. Or stay overnight at the Auburn Riverside Retreat, a family-run campground, which also has timber framed cottages and pine cabins for rent.

And while you’re there, keep in mind these historical notes that were gathered by researcher Diane Smith for a project done by the Municipality of Huron East to expand the Huron County Historical Society’s Driving Tour a few years ago:

Auburn – The village is divided, east from west, by the Maitland River. The lines of four different township boundaries auburnsignintersected here, and those lines also divided Canada Company land open to settlement from the government-owned hinterland beyond. Later, streets and plans were divided along the same lines, thus creating Auburn’s distinctive layout of “dogleg roads and offset lots.” Auburn, as with many other locations, became an area of settlement because water power was readily available here. The village was called both Auburn and Manchester – early maps of parts of the village dated 1854 and 1856 called it Manchester while the post office name assigned in 1854 was Auburn. In fact, the name of the village was Manchester, for all other purposes except postal service, until 1978 when it officially became the Police Village of Auburn.

United Church – The Presbyterians had begun a congregation in Manchester in June 1860. They were the first to construct a unitedchurchchurch building, which opened in March 1863. In the early days, the service was given first in Gaelic and then in English. The old Knox Presbyterian Church became Knox United Church when the three Protestant denominations united in 1925. The church building you now see dates to 1904. The red brick manse to the west was built in 1913, but the original Presbyterian Manse on the east side dates to the 1870s.

Apple Farms – (Maitland Terrace) The once abundant orchards of Auburn and the rest of Huron County supplied maitlandterracethe local apple evaporator plant. The Caldwell General Store was converted into the plant in the late 1890s. It continued in business until it was destroyed by fire in 1925. Local apple supply dwindled and by the 1930s the rebuilt plant was closed.

Dam – Manchester Park – In the mid-1840s, most of the land of what would become the auburnparkfuture townsite of Auburn was bought by the first settler to arrive here, William Robert Garratt. Because the provincial government had reserved all the waters of the Maitland River for its own use, Garratt was stymied in his plans to build a mill, and he soon left. Eneas Elkin was next to arrive in 1850, buying land in the Hullett section. Elkins ran a ferry service across the river. In 1854, Elkin had the northern part of his farm surveyed into a town site he called Manchester Village. Sales of lots enabled him to build a dam and a four-storey grist mill on the Maitland River just south of the main village site. In the late 1860s, a spring flood destroyed Elkin’s mill dam and it was then rebuilt by James Cullis. A short distance downstream the Cullis sawmill provided another essential service to the village.

Have a look, too, at the unique entrance signs on Cnty. Rd. 25 that announce your arrival in Auburn. These blocky cement letters are listed among the Folk Art Treasures of Huron County, a book written by Ron and Bev Walker.

Stocked pond provides hours of family fun

5 May

fish3By Diva Caroline Thuss

Looking for a great (and inexpensive) way to entertain everyone from young to old now that the nicer weather is here?

Hop in the car and take the short and scenic ride to Falls Reserve Conservation Area in Benmiller and check out its stocked fish pond.

My family headed out for our first fishing adventure of the year at the Falls Reserve on opening day. For the cost of a gate pass ($15 per vehicle) and a fishing permit ($8 for adult and $4 for child) for the stocked pond we were ready to enjoy several hours at the beautiful location.

fish5Don’t have a fishing rod? Don’t worry! The Falls Reserve is a loaner site for the OFAH / OPG TackleShare program where you can sign out a rod, etc. like you borrow from a library! The fish pond is located shortly after you enter the park and very close to the Maitland trail. There is lots of room for picnic lunch on the grass or a table nearby.

When we arrived there were already several people around the pond looking for that beautiful big trout. Some were using spinners, others jigs, and some the classic worm bait to get them to bite. We chatted briefly to the father and his son who had caught their quota of four beautiful trout already and were heading out. It was great to see so many people taking advantage of this program.

We enjoyed the sun while we cast out our lines hoping that we might get lucky. It did not take too long before we had a fish on the line and were able to reel in a nice sized trout, which my kids were super excited about…okay I was a little excited too as it has been a long time since I was able to catch a nice sized fish. We did release a few other lucky ones as the kids were more excited about the chance to reel one in than the thought of eating our new “friend” for dinner. It is all about building a positive experience for the children and encouraging them to practice sustainable fishing.

We will be back on July fourth when they host the Family Fishing derby, which is like a small derby for children with lots of prizes fish6and excitement from what I have been told.   This annual event will occur from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  There is no cost to participate although park admission will apply.  The maximum park admission fee is $15 for a car load of people.  There are three age categories (10 and under, 11-17, 18+) and prizes will be awarded for the three longest fish caught in each category.  A prize will also be awarded for the smallest fish of the day.  There will be a variety of prizes donated by local sponsors and provided by the Falls Reserve C.A.  After prizes have been awarded according to the categories a draw will be held to give away the remaining prizes so all participants are encouraged to register to be eligible to win a prize.  They must also be in attendance to win a prize.  There will be a barbecue and refreshments available during the event.  Bait will also be available to purchase.

We were able to enjoy a short hike on the Maitland Trail as well before heading back into town to dress the fish and get it ready for the barbecue. Yummy! You can access the recipe I used here.

What: Falls Reserve Conservation Area

Where: 80900 Falls Reserve Line, RR 4, Goderich, ON N7A 3Y1

Why: Stocked Trout Pond

When: Day permits valid from 8 am. to 10 p.m.

Cost: Daily vehicle permit: $15. Daily pond permit: $8, adults; $4, children aged 5 to 12 (April 25 to June 26, trout only); no charge children aged 5 to 12 (June 27 to Sept. 30, catch and release only.)

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