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Monday, January 6, 2014

A wealth of festivals in Ontario

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 4/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Ontario is blessed with thousands of festivals and special events each year.
   With the choice of more than 3,000 festivals annually, why not make 2014 the year to take in some of the best.

   The envelope, please
   Festivals and Events Ontario narrows the list down each year to proclaim the Top 100. The 2014 top fests will be made known at a gala on March 1.
  The Midway at the Ex is always a popular, packed place. (Jim Fox photo)
   Prominent in the 2013 list are the well-known Wiarton Willie Festival, Winterlude in Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Canadian National Exhibition, Collingwood Elvis Festival and the Toronto Jazz Festival.
   But how about these: Jerkfest, Kingston Sheep Dog Trials, Mosaika, Rockhound Gemboree, Cobourg Sandcastle Festival, Carrot Fest, World Heritage Sunset Ceremonies and the Art of Eating Food and Wine.
   London has the Sunfest celebration of world cultures on the list along with the Home County Music and Art Festival.
   Among the association’s “Level of Distinction” festivals among the Top 100 are: Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls; Canada Blooms, Toronto; Canada Day Celebrations, Ottawa; The Ex in Toronto; K-W Oktoberfest; Luminato – Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity; Niagara Wine Festival; and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.
   There is also Ottawa Bluesfest; Rogers Cup, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Caribbean Carnival, all in Toronto; Stratford Festival; Ottawa International Jazz Festival; Toronto Jazz Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Toronto Pride Week; and Winterlude, Ottawa. 
Master sculptor Sandi “Castle” Stirling of Hamilton creates a work of sand art on Cobourg Beach. (Photo by Stephen Della Casa)
Jerk, rodents and sheep dogs
   - Jerkfest is a celebration of spicy Jamaican-style cooking as in jerk chicken held “around the second weekend” in August in Toronto (last year at Centennial Park in Etobicoke).
   - Wiarton Willie will be aroused from his deep winter slumber on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, for his annual prediction on when to expect the arrival of spring-like weather.
   - The Kingston Sheep Dog Trials is a three-day festival held in August at Grass Creek Park and attracting more than 7,000 spectators.
   - Mosaika, with the backdrop of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, is “the story of Canada” told in an “unforgettable journey of sound and light,” from July 8 to Sept. 6.
   The ceremonial tapping of the first keg of beer kicks off Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.
   - Rockhound Gemboree in Bancroft every August is Canada’s largest gem and mineral show with exhibits of rocks, crystals, gems and fossils, and jewelry and art pieces for sale.
   - Cobourg Sandcastle Festival, Aug. 2, is all about “surf, sun and sand, sand, sand,” with master sculptors creating magnificent creations including life-size dinosaurs and castles.
   - Carrot Fest returns to the streets of Bradford on Aug. 16 with more than 300 vendors and numerous events paying homage to the booming agricultural crops of the black-dirt Holland Marsh.
   - World Heritage Sunset Ceremonies have been held for 75 years in Kingston in July and August. They feature the Fort Henry Guard Drums, Drill Squad and Artillery detachments presenting an interpretive story of 1860’s military music, drill and artillery manoeuvres, including a mock battle.
   - Art of Eating Food and Wine in Tecumseh in June is a “celebration of food, wine, beer and entertainment” held on the Lake St. Clair waterfront.
   - Sunfest at Victoria Park in London from July 2 to 6 is a free annual summer festival to “celebrate brilliant music and dance ensembles representing diverse cultures from around the world.”
   - Home County Music and Art Festival, also at Victoria Park in London, from July 18 to 20 has a focus on Canadian music and musicians.

   Also in the Top 100
  Competitors put on a fast-paced show at the Kapuskasing Lumberjack Festival, one of Ontario’s Top 100 festivals. (Handout – Festivals and Events Ontario)
   Some of the others include: Art in the Park and Carrousel of the Nations, both in Windsor; Barrie Winterfest and Festival of Ice; Blue Mountain Apple Harvest Festival; Canadian International Military Tattoo, Hamilton; Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival, Port Colborne; Taste of Asia Festival, Markham; Dundas Cactus Festival; and the Dunnville Mudcat Festival.
   Kapuskasing Lumberjack Heritage Festival; Kingsville Fantasy of Lights; LaSalle Strawberry Festival; Mississauga Waterfront Festival; Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show, Simcoe; Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival; Peony Festival, Oshawa; and Port Elgin Pumpkinfest.
   River Lights Winter Festival, Amherstburg; Salsa at Blue Mountain; Sauble Beach’s 24 Weeks of Summer; Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival; Stratford Festival; Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival, Owen Sound; Kitchener Blues Festival; and the Tecumseh Corn Festival.
   For more information about all the festivals, go to festivalsandeventsontario.ca or call (519) 537-2226


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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