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Current events from our area for October 2014


Stampeders play Cranberry Festival



This year’s Bala Cranberry Festival is the 30th and the plan is to incorporate the entire village of Bala from end to end.

“There will be pig races in Windsor Park,” says event co-ordinator Melissa Whittle. “They set up a little track and you pick a pig and you get to name him. Since it’s an election year, that should be interesting.”

Possibly even more interesting election-wise will be the dunk tank on Bala Falls Road. “All candidates have been invited,” Whittle says.

As always there will be lots of music, live acts include Sean Cotton, Small Town Road, Valley of Kings, Leah Barley and Jenn Morin. There will also be a special concert on Saturday night at The KEE to Bala featuring The Stampeders, one of Canada’s great 70s bands, who recorded the famous classic Sweet City Woman.

“Because The KEE is involved this year, there’ll be a heritage focus on The KEE and Bala Falls Road,” says Whittle. “There’ll be a salute to the founders in our brochure.”

Displays and demonstrations by the fire, police and paramedic services have not been finalized at time of writing, but the Golden Helmets OPP precision motorcycle team will definitely be there. There will also be a snowmobile watercross demonstration, a midway with rides for the kids, a magician and an exotic petting zoo with animals rescued from homes in Toronto, including a kangaroo.

“We juried our food vendor submissions this year,” says Whittle, “So we have a great selection.” 

There will also be juried arts and crafts vendors in the arena, plus indoor vendors at both the Bala Community Centre and Bala Curling Club.

And of course, there will be cranberries. Shuttle buses will run between the village and Bala’s two cranberry destinations, Johnston’s Cranberry Farm and Iroquois Cranberry Growers. Johnston’s will have helicopter rides as usual, weather permitting.

Buttons allowing you into all Festival events are up a dollar this year to $8. As always, it takes place the weekend following Thanksgiving. 



No cars on Great Pumpkin Trail 



Halloween Night is the night for the Great Pumpkin Trail in Huntsville, a favourite annual event for resident kids for 26 years now.

Local businesses take over the creaky old wooden buildings of Muskoka Heritage Place’s Pioneer Village, decorate them frightfully and don macabre costumes to dole out candy provided by Heritage Place. Young trick-or-treaters find them by following the paths lit by mini moonlights. If you’re worried about your little ones risking encounters with traffic on the streets while trick-or-treating in the traditional way, it’s a great alternative.

Regular treats include haunted houses, a bonfire, hot cider, jack-o-lanterns everywhere, a social opportunity for the parents as well and the odd . . . surprise. It runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31, allowing a pre-dark option for younger kids. Mayor Claude Doughty will once again determine the winner of the “Best Decorated House.” Entry is $3 per head (Heritage Place rules require the head to be attached to a body) or $10 per family.  For more info see the Muskoka Heritage Place website.

Bracebridge hosts cooking adventure

Things will be tasting great in Bracebridge in early October. That’s because some of Canada’s best cookbook authors, including Rose Reisman, Stefano Faita and Looneyspoons author Janet Podleski are coming for an adventure. 

 What’s Cooking Bracebridge? The Great Muskoka Cookbook Adventure is a new weekend culinary event featuring demonstrations, workshops, a gala dinner, cookbook signings and more. It is coming to Bracebridge from Oct. 3 to 5.

An impressive lineup of cookbook authors covers an array of expertise – from juicing to barbecue and mixology to Downton Abbey style Afternoon Tea. Culinary personalities with critically acclaimed cookbooks will all be in Bracebridge to share their knowledge, sign their books and conduct cooking demonstrations. The lineup includes Anna Olson, Rob Rainfords and others.

The activities will be held in various venues throughout the community. Check the website www.canadascottagecountry.ca for activities and ticket information.

The event is hosted by Muskoka Lifestyle Centre, a volunteer group working on the implementation of Bracebridge’s new tourism brand which centres around hands-on, experiential tourism activities.

“We wanted to create a high profile event that would draw those with a culinary interest from the GTA and beyond through hosting an array of cookbook authors ranging from TV personalities to those that are niche authors or bloggers that have a dedicated following of “foodies.” At the same time we will profile our various hands-on experiences to our visitors,” Larry Stroud, voluntary chair of the Muskoka Lifestyle Centre Stroud also said, “Our ultimate goal with this new event is to attract visitors to Bracebridge in the off-season, promote local businesses, promote a variety of local hands-on experiences in Bracebridge and offer guests a unique culinary experience.”

He added, “We envisage this becoming an annual event.”

Trick-or-treating time in Uptown Gravenhurst

Instead of the traditional orange pumpkin, a 1,000 pound blueish-grey squash will be carved at the Gravenhurst Opera House.

It’s all part of Gravenhurst’s Let the Spirits Rise event on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m to 1 p.m.

Children are welcome to come trick-or-treating in Uptown Gravenhurst. Stores with special treats for children have orange and black balloons out front.

Children’s activities area also planned. “It brings a lot of action to the streets,” says Grace Urbanski, Gravenhurst BIA administrator. Usually anywhere from 200 to 300 children bring their families to the event.

“It’s a great free event for families,” says Urbanski. “It’s a chance to go trick-or-treating during the day in a fun environment in Uptown Gravenhurst.”

NorthWords attracts readers  and writers

Now in its fourth year, NorthWords Festival is a celebration of Canadian literature, designed to promote a love of reading in children and adults. 

The festival provides a forum for inspiration and education in literature. It takes place in Bracebridge from Oct. 3 to 5. 

This year’s festival will feature award-winning and acclaimed authors from across Canada including Terry Fallis, Anthony De Sa, Richard Scrimger, Michael Wuitchik, Craig Davidson, Michelle Berry, Catherine Bush, Krista Foss, Ali Bryan, Janet Turpin-Myers, Anne Lazurko and M. G. Vassanji. (www.northwords.org) Sign up for wine and cheese with the authors. 

In addition to readings and book signings, the festival will feature a one-day workshop with well-known authors discussing fiction writing. New writers can even arrange to have a meeting and pitch session with a publisher.

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