This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Yeah, in a short bit it’s going to be Canada Day. We’re going to be celebrating what we, our parents and grandparents created – the greatest place on earth (sorry my American friends, you are off by a few degrees latitude). That would be the point of the holiday.

Some people don’t see it that way and it’s all about the party. There should be a party, the party is necessary, but the party shouldn’t be the end of it.

Here in Orillia, we’ve had some great ones at the waterfront in the past. That won’t be happening because of construction. Our Canada Day committee didn’t let that stand in the way of creating a party anyway.

I have had some conversations with Brian Hare of the Canada Day committee and it hasn’t been easy for them to get it organized, and they’ve had some roadblocks to jump over.

Daytime activities (8 a.m. pancake breakfast, 10:30 a.m. Wheely Great Parade, 11:30 a.m. cutting the Mariposa Market cake) will take place at the Orillia Recreation Centre. That includes lots of activities for kids – and swimming – stating at 9 a.m.

Up until the first week of June everything was up in the air and the committee was prepared to cancel the event. Everything they tried to do to locate where they could have a midway, do a parade and all the activities did not pan out. Then one of the committee members said something like – does everything have to be outside?

“We pitched a proposal that we would use the rec center from 7 ‘til 2. And then we said we’ll do the fireworks in Tudhope Park,” Brian said. “We met with the rec department; they’re bending over backwards for us.”

One would think Tudhope Park would be good for everything, especially the midway, but ball diamond scheduling was an issue, getting the midway out of the park quickly enough for the Mariposa Folk festival people to start their preparation was tight, and if it rains the ground wouldn’t support the midway equipment. Plus one other thing was a factor.

“We’ve done everything but stand on our hand to bring the midway back this year. Everything we’ve come up with the insurance is what kills us,” Brian said.

Interestingly, the Canada Day committee had midway issues before. The company that had been doing it for years went out of business, retirement, and the committee quickly found out getting a replacement was almost impossible because the companies are booked well in advance. But, they got lucky, someone else cancelled and because of previous inquiries the company concerned got a hold of our committee to fill the gap, and they’ve been with us since.

One might then think cancelling the midway this year will cause a problem next year and beyond. But, the Orillia committee cancelled soon enough for them to pick up another date (there is no shortage of communities which want a midway) and it’s not like this cancellation is forever.

“Our midway company, they really don’t want to go anywhere else. We are right in the middle of their travel plan. They don’t want to vary too far out of their travel plans because then it starts costing big bucks.,” Brian said. “They really like us. They are very willing to come back. They understand what happened.”

The parade is not happening this year either. It’s mostly logistical, but expenses have gone up and losing some revenue this year because of all the changes, it didn’t make sense to go further in the hole for it.

The thing is parades need room at the start and the end, considering all the construction there was no place to take the parade. Also, I don’t know if you’ve been pay attention to the news, but parades and public events have become targets for wackos and the OPP are naturally concerned about safety, which means there will be changes for all groups holding parades (and spectators) – and that means more expense.

About the Fireworks

The main reason the fireworks aren’t at Couchiching Beach Park is the construction. Well not the construction, but the contractor is worried the few of us who are not responsible will do something dumb and hurt themselves.

“They sent a very strongly worded letter from their lawyer, so you know there’s a big concern in there somewhere,” Brian said. The City told the committee, “If you don’t shut down early and do away with the fireworks, we’re going to cancel on you.”

The committee was one step ahead.

“We said, no fireworks – that’s the only reason people come – no Canada Day,” Brian said. “We were going to pack it in.”

So there was relief when the City said OK to using Tudhope Park. It’s not going to be a picnic, Brian and the committee had their own concerns.

“My concern with the fireworks was not the fireworks, but getting in and out of Tudhope Park. Mariposa is a different crowd than what’s coming to Canada Day. Canada Days is families and all you’ve got to do is get somebody who is impatient and somebody is going to get run over.”

Orillia Fire Department volunteers are going to be on hand to direct traffic after the fireworks. The launch pad is going to be on Barnfield Point, not the roof of the curling rink, but out where Gord’s statue is.

“The optimum spot to watch them will be on the ball diamond, anything south of that is the ideal spot. They’ll be shooting them out basically back towards Couch (the lake and not toward Couchiching Point) because that’s the optimum angle to send them out on in case there’s any wind,” Brian said. “Do not go to the east side, the Couchiching Point side, of the park because they’ll be looking through the trees to watch the fireworks,”

That also means trying to pick a view along the trail and the ‘other beach’ area (not Moose Beach) will not be the best place, as one might think. The Leacock Museum is another option to watch the fireworks. You’ll probably also be able to see them from the downtown.

Sunset is at 9:07 p.m. but it won’t be dark enough until at least 9:45.

“If there’s lots of smoke like this, they’ll be going earlier,” Brian said. That was a joke.

It seems heading over to the park at about 7:30 to 8 p.m. might be wise if you are driving. You won’t have to rush and volunteers will be able to send you to the best place to watch. There will also be a free shuttle bus from the rec center every half hour staring at 7 p.m. and ending at 11 p.m.

And this year bringing some cash will be appreciated.

“Here’s the catch, we need to sell buttons to pay for the fireworks. I just sent back cheques to vendors that were coming for the day, so there’s a $3,000 hit we took. We don’t have the midway, so there’s an $8,000 minimum hit we took. We’re not having a beer garden (which netted a $1,500 donation from the legion). We’re down $10,000.”

They’ll have the buttons to sell as usual, and also T-Shirts and glow sticks to sell as fundraisers.

For more detail on activities and events find them online.

Other Stuff

I’m going to dispense with most of what I intended because the above ran so long, so look for a review of the Brass Transit concert and a new thing at OMAH next week.

Sil Simone

On Brass Transit, briefly, that was good, great, and at times stupendous. One of the stupendous moments, two of them actually were Sil Simone’s guitar solos in I’m A Man and 25 or 6 to 4. Epic is a better way to describe them.

You can see him tonight, Friday June 30, at Lot 88 from 6 to 9 p.m.  He’s billed a part of Jo and the Power Boys, but it’s really him and percussionist Joe Adamick. They call themselves the Power Boys because they both went to Michael Power High School in Toronto.

On Canada Day Couchiching Craft Brewing is closing their parking lot and having activities all day long. There will be live music, DJ Wilverine spinning only Canadian music, a beer garden, an art installation, and drop in family activities. Even Steven is playing tonight, Friday.

The Shorts

  • This is the first weekend Mississaga and Peter Street will be closed Friday and Saturday nights. The artists in the Arts District will be out with their stuff on the street on Friday nights.
  • Washago is doing their usual Canada Day in Centennial Park with a lineup of bands in the afternoon into the evening. It starts at noon with the Washago Jam Band, then hourly changes from 2 p.m. onward with Mark Boddy, Samantha Windover, Moon River Tune Giver, Buck 20, the Wendy Whalen Band, Large, and Shoot the Moon.
  • Summer theater opens very soon (July 5) at the Opera House and you can get a deal on tickets for all three plays right now. The plays are Moving In (Norm Foster), Bed and Breakfast (Mark Crawford), and Halfway There (Norm Foster).
  • The Orillia District Arts Council and the City of Orillia are teaming up again to present events in neighbourhood parks this summer. July 5 Pat Gowan will be at Clayt French Park; July 19 it’s a dance program at Walter Henry Park; Ronnie Douglas, Mike Dobransky and Alex Andrews will be at Hillcrest Park Aug. 2; Deb Brown will lead a drum circle at High Street Park Aug. 16; and Jakob Pearce will play music while the kids make art at Lankinwood Park Aug. 30. It’s all free.
  • Creative Nomad Studios is running a contest in which one charity will win the use of the studio for a fundraising event. The Nominate to Elevate  winner will get an all-inclusive package (5-hours for dinner for 80 including bar setup, linens, napkins, full table settings, coffee/tea/water service, bar staff, and event coordinator) valued at $1,800. The charity with the most nominations wins and you can nominate your charity online.
  • St. Paul’s Centre has a great concert happening Nov. 24. They are pairing Danny Michel with Steve Poltz. If you haven’t seen either before I guarantee you will have a fantastic time. It’s a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre and you can get tickets now (which is a very good idea) online.
  • When you get to the link above for the Michel/Poltz concert, you’ll see there are a few other concerts benefiting the Orillia Youth Centre happening soon. Meredith Moon, Big Bad Jug Band and North River (with Nick Keays) will be at Farm Fest (Sebright) July 1 (all proceeds to the Nelson Bell, Jake Beers, and Vern Herron Dental Fund); The Sadies, the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band and Jerry Leger will be doing the Roots North annual fall concert Sept. 23; and Roger Harvey is returning to Orillia for a gig at St. Paul’s Centre September 29 and in Collingwood Sept. 30. Saving you some scrolling, get tickets here.
  • Derick Lehmann has a fundraising event for the Sharing Place Food Bank happening at the Roller Skating place at ODAS Park. Derick is the person behind the annual Ugly Sweater bowling fundraiser. This one is called Back to the 90s Video Dance Party, modelled after the Much Music events of the same nature and features three 15 foot screens and a concert sound system. It’s a licensed, 19 and up event and it happens July 29. You can get tickets at Alleycats Music or online.
  •  Zain Campbell has a new tune and video to go with it to watch.
  • The legacy of Jim Kelly (Speedy) keeps coming. Robert Gronfors and Phillip Lalonde uploaded new concert video on Youtube. This time it’s the June 18, 1976 Rush concert from Oshawa. They did a great job syncing up concert audio with Speedy’s 8 mm no sound footage. See it here.
Amelia Bush
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a scholarship, the Georgia McLellan Visual Arts Scholarship and it was recently awarded to Amelia Bush, an OSS student who is enrolling in the bachelor of design in illustration program at OCAD University in September; OMAH has a new weekly walking tour stating July 5 called Gangs, Guns and Grog (more next week) and it ends at the Hog ‘N Penny for a beer, register online;  OMAH has a great tribute page for Jean Sargeant on their website. Jean, despite her young age, goes all the way back to the Hysterical Society and was one of the founders of the Sir Sam Steele Art Gallery; OMAH is investigating how to create something to honour Gord. Under consideration is a permanent exhibit, a temporary exhibit, or something online. They want input from groups and individuals and will be figuring out what to do after the Mariposa Folk Fest. If you have an idea, email; OMAH opened submissions for the 22nd annual Canadian Landscape Show, the deadline is August 11. The theme is Tradition Transformed and you can find submission details here; Three exhibits are up until September – Steeped In History has artifacts for OMAH’s collection which relate to tea and teatime, Homage is jewellery made by Donald Stuart inspired by 40 famous Canadian women, and an exhibit of Elizabeth Wynn Wood’s drawings, sketches and sculptures is in the upstairs gallery; The annual International Women’s Day art show is up until July 22… Hibernation Arts has guest artist Nancy Jones’s work on display for the month of July and the opening is July 7 from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Quayle’s Brewery has Alex Barber playing June 30, Patrick Hunter and then My Missing Piece July 1, Sam Johnston and then Ron Whitman July 2 and Andrew Walker July 3… Brassworks has a gig in Wasaga beach you might check out; July 11 they do the Jazz in the Park with Alex Dean guesting; July 23 they have the 4th Street Jazz Project, Alex Dean and the OSS Dixieland Band along at  2:30 p.m. at the Orillia Salvation Army Citadel.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied)

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