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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ontario is a province of festivals; take your pick from more than 3,000 of them

   One-Tank Trip for April 30/11
   One of Ontario’s Top 100 festivals continues to be Caribana, a celebration of Caribbean island culture, in Toronto. (Photos – Festivals and Events Ontario)

  (c) By Jim Fox

   Ontario is truly a province of festivals with something happening throughout the year.
   In fact, there are more than 3,000 festivals and events annually.
   Everyone’s heard of Oktoberfest, the Canadian National Exhibition, Caribana, Niagara Festival of Lights, Wiarton Willie, Stratford Shakespearean and Canadian Tulip festivals.
   But, how about Jerkfest, Kapuskasing Lumberjack Festival, Rockhound Gemboree, Holstein Rodeo Weekend, Cobourg Sandcastle Festival, First Light and Fort Fright?

   London makes the list with SunFest world cultures’ event, July 7 to 10, and Home County Folk Festival, July 15 to 17. Nearby St. Thomas has Retrofest, May 27 to 29, and the Iron Horse Festival, Aug. 25 to 28.
   All are among the prestigious Top 100 Festivals determined by Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) based in Woodstock.
   “Festivals and events have a huge economic impact on our communities,” said Gary Masters, FEO executive director.
   Whether it’s a “festival engaging the local community or a world-leading, best-in-class event,” the economic result is more than $1 billion annually, he added.
   Competitors put on a show at the Kapuskasing Lumberjack Festival.

   Fests in the best 100
   - The Holstein Rodeo Weekend, July 7 to 10, in this community north of Mount Forest offers all the usual cowboy events, barn dance, chuck wagon and barbecue steak dinners and entertainment.
   There will be team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull and saddle bronc riding, ladies break-away roping and tie-down roping.
   Entertainment includes headliners Julian Austin, Jason McCoy and Shane Yellowbird.
   - Jerkfest celebrates the spicy tastes of the Caribbean and is held Aug. 6 and 7at Centennial Park in Etobicoke (Mississauga).
   Organizers call it a “fusion of jerk food, pulsating music, family friendly entertainment and good vibes.”
   - Kapuskasing Lumberjack Festival, July 23 to 25, features professional logging shows, competitions, car and truck shows and entertainment including singer Tom Cochrane.
   - Rockhound Gemboree, July 28 to 21, is Canada’s largest gem and mineral show along with a stone carver’s event. It’s at the North Hastings Community Centre, Curling Club, in Bancroft.
   - Cobourg Sandcastle Festival, July 30 and 31, is at Victoria Park Beach. It has sandcastle building with prizes and includes “master sculptors, many fun kids’ activities and a movie.”
   Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest continues as one of the province’s top festivals.

   - First Light at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Midland is Nov. 24 to 26 when the historic site is illuminated with more than 3,000 candles.
   This prelude to the holiday season has seasonal and folk music, Aboriginal performances and special activities for children.
   - Fort Fright, is a “festival of fear” at Fort Henry in Kingston from Sept. 21 to Oct. 29.
   It’s called “Ontario’s best haunted experience” as the fort “comes to life each night with ghostly apparitions and spooky creatures.”
   There is also a haunted overnight program and themed dinners in the Pirates Den restaurant.
   The fort makes the list twice, also for its World Heritage Sunset Ceremony on July 6, 13, 20 and 27. The evening military show is followed by a fireworks finale.
Bagpipers perform at the Sound of Music Festival in Burlington.

   Upcoming in the Top 100
   The Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa, May 6-23; Orangeville Jazz and Blues Festival, June 2-5; Carassauga Festival of Cultures, Mississauga, Dundas International Buskerfest and Streetsville Founders’ Bread and Honey Festival, all June 3-5; Re-enactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek, June 4-5; Luminato – Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity, June 10-19; and Hamilton Waterfront Wingfest, June 10-12.
   Carrousel of the Nations, Windsor, June 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26; Niagara Italian Festival (Thorold), June 16-18; Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival, June 16-19; Mississauga Waterfront Festival (Port Credit) and Markham Village Music Festival, June 17-19; and Oshawa Fiesta Week, June 19-25.
   Ottawa Jazz Festival, June 23-July 3; Toronto Jazz Festival, June 24-July 3; Pride Toronto, June 24-July 3; Canadian International Military Tattoo (Hamilton), Taste of Asia (Markham), Toronto International Dragon Boat Race and Salsa at Blue Mountain, June 25-26; and Friendship Festival, Fort Erie, June 30-July 3.
Fireworks cap the evening events at the Two-Nation Celebration in Niagara Falls.
   If you go:
   Download, view or order the Festivals and Events Ontario guide listing all the activities with an overview on each. www.festivalsandeventsontario.ca; (519) 537-2226; E-mail: info@festivalsandeventsontario.ca

   Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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