Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Ontario Festivals in Fun Filled Cottage Country North of Toronto

From racing along a pristine northern Ontario lake to dancing under the stars to traditional French music, the region north of Toronto offers a rich cornucopia of things to see, do and even taste.

Things kick into a high and rather sweet, gooey gear on June 13 with Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival and Contest in Midland.

Amateur and professional bakers alike are expected to flock to the pretty Georgian Bay town to see if they can have their butter tarts declared the best in Ontario.

Besides the contest, the event features a full slate of activities to appeal to families.

Festival creator Barbara Rowlandson said she had worked for years perfecting her butter tart recipe and eventually started selling her creations in her downtown store.

photo credit: Shelby Mulligan

“Almost instantaneously, the tarts were a hit,” she recalled. “That first summer selling butter tarts, I watched an amazing thing happen in my shop. Complete strangers would linger, and have lengthy, and sometimes heated, discussions about what makes a good butter tart.” Rowlandson said that initial recognition of people’s passion for the pastry led to the eventual planning of the inaugural festival two years ago.

And history seems to be on the region’s side. According to organizers, the earliest published butter-tart recipe comes from Simcoe County with an entry in a Barrie hospital cookbook dated 1900.

Speaking of turn-of-the 20th century fun, the village of Coldwater hosts its Steampunk Festival on August 8 with a full-costumed meet and greet scheduled for the previous day.

Event chair Suzy Burtenshaw said the festival initially kicked off in 2011 with the seed being a local artist and the inspiration coming from a young “Steampunk” girl from Coldwater, who makes her own costumes.

“People like coming to the festival because it overlaps with the maker movement, which is growing in leaps and bounds as people return to loving the beauty of things made by hand” Burtenshaw said, noting the entire village is transported back in time throughout the weekend.

“With hundreds of fully-costumed festival goers, this visual alone creates a photographer’s dream, against the back drop of turn-of-the century buildings, vintage vehicles and amazing museums. Our festival is unique because the entire village gets involved.”

The initial offering has grown dramatically and now features high-quality, related offerings from a range of vendors and artisans along with food, music, headline entertainment and street performers. As well, visitors attend the festival from across southern Ontario and the northern U.S.

“We are listed on Steampunk Canada’s website which puts the call out to people who love dressing up and showcasing their elaborate Victorian and Edwardian-era costumes and characters.”

For those looking to delve into Canada’s other official language, Lafontaine hosts the Festival du Loup from July 16 to 19.

This year’s edition of the popular, family-friendly event will commemorate 400 years of francophone presence in Ontario with guests transported back in time to the 17th century.

The festival’s program includes French stories and music, local food, artisans, a “painted-wolf” art auction and the always popular howling contest. There’s traditional French music throughout the event, highlighted Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night with a performance by Bon D├ębarras and Coureurs des Bois.

A few weeks later, the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre holds its Get Outdoors Festival.

The family-friendly festival, which features a special Get Hiking portion, runs August 8 and 9 and provides a chance for guests to explore one of Ontario's largest wetlands by foot, boat or bike.

The site features more than 25 kilometres of scenic forested trails, floating boardwalks and canoe channels that allows one to “escape” into the marsh. The event also gives visitors the chance to experience hummingbird-banding and Monarch-tagging demonstrations while also taking part of in an interactive workshop on birding, backcountry camping or shelter building.

There’s also the chance to see the facility’s birds of prey soar above and learn how to identify native Ontario turtles and snakes during a live animal show.

As well, the Chippewas of Rama First Nation hosts its 30th annual Powwow with a full slate of activities highlighting traditional activities. Running August 22 and 23, the event features world-class singing and dancing along with related displays and the chance to taste traditional foods while also checking out the wares of area arts and crafts vendors.

For foodies, the award-winning agri-culinary event Savour Simcoe takes place August 30 at the Simcoe County Museum. The eighth annual event changes every year with new farmer/chef pairings and new offerings for beverages from area craft breweries and wineries.

Further north in Timmins from August 28 to 30, plans for the seventh annual Great Canadian Kayak Challenge & Festival are well underway, according to event co-chair Guy Lamarche.

“We’ve had paddlers register from as far away as the U.K.,” Lamarche said, noting the event that’s listed as a Top 100 festival by Festival and Events Ontario regularly attracts visitors from across Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

“We challenge you to finish what you enter. The rewards are secondary.”

But besides the many water-based activities, the overall production has become much larger since its humble origins.

There’s now demonstrations and fun activities throughout the weekend along with a huge fireworks display that visitors have said would “rival Ottawa on Canada Day” and both local and well-known bands playing throughout, including this year’s headliners the Box and Platinum Box.

“It’s a community festival first,” Lamarche said, noting there’s no charge to attend with even parking provided free-of-charge.

“We have 13,000 to 15,000 people come to the park. At the end of the day, we’ve got a program that appears to every demographic and every level of paddler.”

Across the bay, Collingwood’s Blue Mountain Village boasts a number of family-friendly events.

From June 19 to 21, the seventh annual Salsa at Blue event offers a free family street party that transforms the village into a showcase of Latin life throughout the weekend with pulsating music, passionate dancing and live performances and demonstrations.

 A little later in the summer on August 8 and 9, the village celebrates families with live music, interactive activities, variety shows, guided family hikes and gondola rides during Famarama.

These or other festivals happening this season north of Toronto are an excellent activity to plan a day trip or getaway around. Pack a bag, start the car and enjoy Ontario road tripping.

Visit our website to find:

Summer Getaways

Attractions / Activities

More Events & Festivals

Visit our website and plan your perfect day trip or getaway north of Toronto, today!

Article written by: A Philips for 400eleven.com