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Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Spies" coming to downtown Barrie, Ontario streets; free burgers at Webers

   One-Tank Trip for Aug. 31/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   I spy with my little eye something that is happening in Barrie.
   “Spies” will be taking to the downtown streets of this city north of Toronto on Sept. 14 and 21 looking for clues in an “interactive puzzle adventure game.”
   “Your mission, if you choose to accept it: solve as many of the 30 puzzles hidden around downtown Barrie as you can within 60 minutes,” says “mastermind” Vanessa B Baylen.

   Double agents lurking
   Spies of Barrie – similar to the Amazing Race, geocaching, Professor Layton or MIT’s Mystery Hunt – is a game designed to challenge the minds of players and celebrate local businesses and artists.
   But be careful: double agents lurk at every corner.
Vanessa B Baylen is the “mastermind” of the Spies of Barrie. (Jennifer Klementti Photography)
   And, a word of warning: “Good spies often go unnoticed by the general observer. A good rule of thumb is to sneak around town; if you draw too much attention to a hidden puzzle or solution, you may well reveal information to a competitor or double agent.”
   Presented by WhoDunnit Events, here’s how it goes down, according to Baylen:
   “Chapter One: New Recruits has you in the role of a new spy being tested by the agency for placement in future missions.
   “You and your fellow spies will meet at the rendezvous point (a secret location provided only to ticket holders) where you must complete your first task: locate your spy kit.
   “Spy kits include a map with the puzzle locations, instructions of what to do once you arrive at them, as well as the location of the final meeting place.
   “You have ultimate freedom to devise your own tactics for playing the game; you may collaborate or work individually.”
A detective investigates an object for clues in a WhoDunnit Events’ production. (Photo by Vanessa B Baylen)
     Puzzles will be hidden around downtown Barrie and must be solved within the allotted time.
   They might include brain teasers, such as physical, visual, linguistic and mathematical puzzles.
   “No specialist knowledge or tools (like a smart phone, GPS) are required and the puzzles are ‘Google proof’.”
   Although puzzles are designed at an adult level, the game is suitable for ages seven and older.
   It’s a mission impossible, as Baylen said no one person can traverse Barrie and solve all 30 puzzles within 60 minutes.
   “This game has a lot of scope for creating your own strategy. You may participate solo or as a team, compete or collaborate, stick with one tactic or change your style halfway, trust spies you know or ones you’ve just met,” she said.
   It’s also an “out-of-the-ordinary way to explore the city,” and for out-of-towners to get to know “beautiful downtown Barrie in the early fall,” Baylen said.
   All participants are required to wear a bow tie for easy identification.
A detective goes through collected evidence in a WhoDunnit Events’ production. (Photo by Julia Atkinson)
   The tickets feature a bow tie, so players can simply pin that to their clothing or create or buy a tie.
   Spies of Barrie is a new event for Baylen who was born in Canada and raised in Australia.
   If sufficient interest exists, subsequent chapters will “flesh out a detailed alternate reality world players may dip in and out of,” including similar events in other cities.
   She has been creating interactive experiences for 10 years while her best-known event is Death by Chocolate, the classic detective murder mystery dinner party with chocolate tasting, presented in three countries.

   Map showing the area included in the Spies of Barrie event.
   Need to know
   Spies of Barrie takes place on Saturday, Sept. 14 and 21, with sessions starting at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (There’s an alternate date of Sep. 28 in the event of severe weather.)
   There will be a maximum of 50 spies/participants per session.
   Tickets are $20 plus $1 fee online or $22 at Awkward Stage, Lakeshore Mews (111 Dunlop St. E.), Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
   Details, tickets and example puzzles at SpiesofBarrie.ca

   Burger giveaway
   Come and get it – free burgers – at Webers, a Muskoka cottaging mainstay burger joint since 1963 on Highway 11 north of Orillia. 
Long lines sprawling into the parking lot are common at Webers, north of Orillia. (Jim Fox photo)
   It happens on Friday, Sept. 6 from 10:30 a.m. to “celebrate the launch of Cottage Life, the Channel,” when the first 5,000 cottagers receive a free hamburger, cheeseburger or veggie burger, courtesy of Cottage Life.
   The new TV channel will feature shows about do-it-yourself designs, real estate, food, entertaining and outdoor living. webers.com; cottagelife.com/television


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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