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Current events from our area for July 2014

Celebrate Canada Day across Muskoka

Muskokans have many ways to celebrate Canada Day this year.

Huntsville’s national birthday party will begin at 10 a.m. at River Mill Park with a flag raising and the singing of O Canada, then dignitaries will cut the Canada Day cake. The Trillium jazz band will play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Muskoka Heritage Place offers free admission on July 1.

Lots of people usually come out for the strolling minstrels and the scones,” says collections manager Sara White. “This will be the first official trip of the Portage Flyer Steam Train.

Huntsville’s day culminates with a fireworks display held over Hunters Bay at dusk.

Port Sydney celebrates Canada Day  at Mary Lake Beach from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Gravenhurst will play the national anthem followed by a celebratory cake cutting at noon at Gull Lake Park says Amy Taylor, community events facilitator. “We will have a barbecue with free cake, children’s entertainment, a petting zoo, musician and magic show,” says Taylor.

In Bracebridge, Canada Day cake and flags will be distributed at the Visitors Information Centre on Manitoba Street at noon.

Get your cardboard boat ready for the 8 p.m. race in Bracebridge Bay followed by the duck derby at 9 p.m. The Rotary Club of Bracebridge fireworks display is next. “I would encourage people from all around to come see it. It is absolutely spectacular,” says Nathalie Tinti, president of the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce.

Township of Muskoka Lakes will see fireworks at the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa at 10 p.m., preceded by children’s activities and cake from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Muskoka Lakes Museum in Port Carling will be featuring its Canada Day quiz. “Being the museum’s 50th anniversary, we are going to focus on things 50 years ago in Muskoka Lakes,” says Doug Smith, the curator. “It’s for everyone. There’s cake and an open house.”

Lake of Bays will host Canada Day activities on June 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dwight Beach Road will be closed off for a barbecue lunch, says Tanya Grainger of the area community group. “We will have childrens’ games on the beach and a silent auction dessert. Local musician Tobin Spring will come to perform and antique cars will be displayed.

Quiet weekend goes awry in Hay Fever

The Gravenhurst Opera House and Dragonfly Theatre Company are bringing dinner theatre to the stage from July 9 to 19.

Noel Coward’s Hay Fever is about David Bliss, a novelist, and his wife Judith, a retired actress, who are looking forward to a quiet weekend in the country with some guests. But their plans are ruined when their high spirited children Simon and Sorel invite guests of their own.

It’s only a matter of time before tempers flare and misunderstandings erupt in the full house.

Pru Donaldson is directing the play and she is also one of the founders of Dragonfly Theatre Company, a non-profit group. “It’s a typical Noel Coward and they’re always charming and hilarious,” she says. “The hilarity with the Brits is that it’s all about words and wit and clever sense of humour rather than fall-on-a-banana-skin type of humour. It’s a more subtle kind of humour and great for an audience of a variety of ages.”

Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online through the Gravenhurst Opera House website or by phone at 705-687-5550. 

The dinner and show are usually held in the Trillium Court of the opera house but this year they’ve been invited to host the play on the stage upstairs. Chef David Friesen of Riverwalk Restaurant in Bracebridge will be catering the dinner.

Tub time at the Huntsville docks

Food, fun and bathtubs will entice and entertain the crowds during the annual Rotary Club of Huntsville’s Dockfest on July 5.

Last year thousands packed the area around the Town Dock, River Mill Park and beyond.

The Bathtub Derby, which returned last year, is pegged as the core of Rotary Dockfest, as it attracts visitors and residents to witness the zany antics, many spills and some excellent navigating.

Rotary Dockfest is free to attend with places to purchase food and drink easily visible. This year’s event will raise funds for Top Hat House for Youth and improvements to River Mill Park.

A pancake breakfast begins at 8 a.m. in River Mill Park followed by the parade of decorated bathtubs, marshalled by Olympic gold medallist Dara Howell, heading down Main Street at 11 a.m. The derby starts at noon.

Huntsville lights up summer night

Fire breathing, dancing, music, acting and interactive displays make Nuit Blanche North in Huntsville a vibrant, colourful evening of entertainment.

On July 12 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., the street festival, presented by Dan Watson of Edge of the Woods Theatre and the Huntsville Festival of the Arts takes over downtown Huntsville.

Last year over 5,000 people jam-packed Main Street, River Mill Park, the Town Dock and the surrounding area to witness creativity at its finest.

This year’s fourth annual event is promising to live up to, and even surpass other years, in terms of artistic value and attendance. Nuit Blanche North is described as a “bold, interactive, multi-arts street festival.

The theme of this year’s event is Impact and the programming features epic sound and light installations, combined with music and dance, plus an explosive fire show, an adults only midnight cabaret, as well as many other performances and hands-on activities. Participating artists include a number of members of the Huntsville Art Society.

“It’s nothing like you’ll see anywhere else in Muskoka,” says Watson “It’s a festival of creativity where people can let themselves go and have fun.”

Huntsville takes art to the streets

The streets in downtown Huntsville will be awash in creativity on July 31 as the sixth annual En Plein Air (french for “in the open air”) painting and auction event takes place.

Presented by Kelly Holinshead of The Shutterbug Gallery and the Huntsville Festival of the Arts, each year the event sees many local artists and dignitaries setting up paints and easels around town throughout the day. The artists have four hours to complete their masterpieces. Everyone is welcome to stop by and take a look at their progress throughout the day.

Their original creations are then auctioned off live at Partners Hall in the Algonquin Theatre at 3 p.m. with the funds raised going towards student art bursaries. Last year, En Plein Air raised about $4,000.

“It’s an incredible day with so many wonderful people from the community taking part,” says Holinshead. “There’s such a fun, festive atmosphere surrounding En Plein Air. It’s a must see.”

Driving Miss Daisy kicks off ACT summer season

Actors’ Colony Theatre (ACT) in Bala is going “stock” this season, running a show for a period of time then changing it, instead of rotating through the different shows each day.

They’re kicking off July with a production of Driving Miss Daisy. Running from July 9 to 26. This warm hearted and humorous play has won several prestigious awards and was also an Academy Award-winning film starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. 

This summer ACT is also bringing the popular European puppet show Punch & Judy to Muskoka, featuring puppeteer Mike Petersen, who trained under Jim Henson and worked on the 1980s children’s live-action puppet TV show Fraggle Rock, says ACT artistic producer Eva Moore. 

“Our plan is to take the show around to various parks and public areas of the Muskoka Lakes, set it up and just see who comes,” she says. “There will be no admission and we’ll just pass a hat around to take a collection.” 

Also running on through July and August is Colony Cabaret Sundays. This new program will feature various artists from Muskoka and the area for a one-night-only show in an intimate cabaret setting. This month features performances from Dudettes on July 13, Muskoka Melody on July 20 and Mollie Maloney on July 27. Tickets are just $20.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase groups that people will really enjoy hearing,” says Moore. 

Do a good deed by exploring a cottage

The 16th annual Summer Cottage Tour and fundraiser for the Muskoka Conservancy will visit two amazing cottages on Friday, July 18. Guests travel aboard the Wenonah II

“Funds raised by this tour support the good cause of land trust management in Muskoka – important in maintaining our unique natural heritage,” says tour co-ordinator and Muskoka Conservancy director Cynthia Smith. “You get to visit two of the lake’s wonderful cottages, each reflecting a different era, as well as a superb lunch at Touchstone.”

Visitors will see one of the oldest Beaumaris estates and a more contemporary classic. Tickets, at $150 each, are available from the Muskoka Conservancy at 705-654-7393 ext. 200.

Muskoka Conservancy focuses on responsible land conservation and environmental leadership, along with built and cultural heritage in Muskoka.

Party celebrates 50 years of history

The Muskoka Lakes Museum Day on July 26 is a 50th anniversary celebration, with free events including children’s pioneer games, live music and pioneer craft demonstrations. The day runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an official ceremony at 2 p.m.

“It’s a day for family fun and a way for the museum to say thank you to the community for all of their support over the years.”

Enjoy local food
The popular Arowhon Pines 100 Mile Challenge Barbecue will take place on Monday, Aug. 4
“It’s a peaceful summer barbecue all set up on the lake so it’s a lovely summer afternoon,” says Arowhon Pines general manager Theresa Pupulin. 

Arowhon chefs meet the challenge of preparing food, all from within 100 miles. Also at the barbecue are area farmers, local beer, a musician and, this year, a few artists. 

This year’s menu includes fresh lake trout, Lake Huron whitefish, local heritage pork and hand-picked vegetables from Muskoka farms. There are seasonal salads, meat and vegetarian entrees on the grill and homemade desserts and ice cream.

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