“Fall Harvesting”

“Halloween Fun”

What to Do? What to Do?

by Gary McWilliams (aka Festival Nomad)

With COVID-19 still with us, and caution still important, communities and facilities are trying to figure out how to celebrate two significant events ~ Halloween. I’ve got a few ideas to consider.


First, I’ll give you a little background to the idea.

  • Each year the community of Waterford Ontario hosts the Waterford Pumpkinfest. When Judi and I have visited this event, we were impressed by how involved community residents were. Many homes had fun carved pumpkins and Halloween decorations. (NOTE: This event has been modified because of COVID-19)

  • Each year the community of Meaford Ontario hosts the Meaford Scarecrow Invasion. The main street and some of the side streets are “alive” with scarecrows! Scarecrows can be seen on the street, store fronts, hillside park and even from the town’s lamp posts. (NOTE: This year’s event has been cancelled due to COVID-19)

  • The community of Buckhorn, held, a few years ago, an event called Colours and Crows. Members of the community would create different scarecrows and scarecrow scenes. A list of scarecrow locations was prepared, and visitors and residents were invited to try to find each location. This was like a fun, scarecrow “scavenger” hunt! While searching for the scarecrows, participants were treated to the areas spectacular fall colours.

I am sure that many other communities hold Halloween events, but do they allow for COVID-19 and “social distancing”?

So, here’s my concept ~ hold a combination of each of the above events, keeping the current challenges in mind.

  • Develop a Halloween theme for the whole community
  • Encourage all downtown businesses to decorate their premises
  • Encourage all residents to participate by decoration their home or balconies
  • Hold a contest for the best decorated businesses (perhaps the best 2 or 3)
  • Hold a contest for the best decorated homes (perhaps the best in different categories – kids, adults, etc.)
  • Create a fun “Halloween Scavenger Hunt”, one that both residents and visitors can participate in, as they “drive” through the community
  • Based on the community’s Halloween theme, have selected individuals or families create “secret displays” and then make up a “Halloween Scavenger Hunt list
  • Have fun prizes that people can win if they find all the “secret displays
  • Tie all 3 programs together in one event
  • It would be great if the town would decorate some of their facilities
  • The event could run two or three weeks

If you’d like further information about these concepts, please e-mail me at gary@ontariovisited.ca.

Country Routes

A few months ago, we introduced our Country Routes Video Series. As a result, Judi and I have been taking a lot of outings on “Roads Less Traveled“! To say that we have experienced many wonderful “adventures“, would be an understatement!

Below are two video examples of the scenes we have captured.

A Taste of Fall!

I believe that this has been one of the best years for fall colours, certainly in our area, The Blue Mountains.

This Ontario VisitedCountry Routes ~ A Taste of Fall” video takes you with us, as we traveled the country roads of The Blue Mountains and beyond, on “Roads Less Traveled”!

Fall Harvesting

Over the past few years, Judi and I have become interested in farming. Not to actually farm, but to observe. If you travel enough on country roads, and we have, it’s hard not to take an interest.

So, this year, we decided to learn more about farming and in particular,  fall harvesting. As a result, we spent several days on “Roads Less Traveled” and photographed and videoed as many “harvesting” scenes as possible.

The Ontario VisitedCountry Routes ~ Fall Harvesting” video show only a “fraction” of what we experienced. Our “learning search” was definitely eye opening. See if you can tell what types of crops were being harvested!

Virtual or Drive Through?

With COVID-19 a reality, communities are trying to decide how to handle it. Some communities have decided to cancel events and/or shut down attractions. It’s a heart wrenching decision, because these things are the “lifeblood” of most communities.

That’s why many community events and facilities (attractions) are looking for acceptable alternatives.

To them, one of the questions is “Virtual or Drive Through”. Deciding which depends on what they are offering. The Toronto Zoo, for example, offers scheduled “drive throughs”, while the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival offered an amazing virtual festival/concert.

Others, such as the Lang Pioneer Village Museum have offered a variation by having Advanced Booking tours.

Whatever a community decides, its future look will forever be changed!

What to Do? What to Do? (Continued)

Christmas Season

Again, I’ll give you a little background to this idea.

  • Long ago, when I was a kid, I live in a small active community near Toronto. Each Christmas season the community organized Christmas contests. There were three categories ~ Door Decorations, Christmas Lights and Christmas Displays. All of the categories were judged, and winners were awarded prizes. People from all over the area used to drive to and through the village to see the doors, lights and displays. Every year, the event was a much anticipated by both residents and visitors!
  • In another small community, I was able to organize a similar event. Our local newspaper sponsored it. We encouraged residents to decorate their homes, including light displays and door decorations. The idea caught on, and hundreds of homes were decorated. It brought a lot of holiday spirit to the community. Prizes were given to the 3 top winners.

For the Christmas Season event, here is my concept:

Many Ontario towns already have Christmas lighting displays (Simcoe Christmas Panorama, Niagara Falls ~ Winter Festival of Lights, Amherstburg River Lights, etc.), which are excellent, but they are expensive and often too elaborate for small communities. So, why not create a Christmas festival for the residents of the community.

  • Like the village I lived when I was a kid, create three decorating categories for the residents (home or balconies) to participate in, doors, lights and displays.
  • Create a Christmas or seasonal theme
  • Individual residents can enter one or more of the categories
  • Make the theme and categories fun for the whole family (create excitement!)
  • Create a complimentary program for the downtown merchants
  • Try to have one or more of the media outlets sponsor the event (free publicity!)
  • Develop a judging criterion for each category
  • Have 2 or 3 judges independently judge each entry
  • Encourage residents and visitors to experience the lights and decorations by driving through the community

If you’d like further information about these concepts, please e-mail me at gary@ontariovisited.ca.

Happy Holidays!

It’s hard to believe that another year is coming to an end. 2020 has been devastating and amazing at the same time!

Devastating because of the number of people affected by the virus and amazing because of the resilience and an innovation of the people affected. Many of us have had to reinvent ourselves, all while we are self isolating and trying to stay safe.

Judi and I wish everyone a safe holiday season and a much better 2021!

The following Christmas message is from our BEE in the Know Video Series.

Christmas 2020

Here’s another Ontario VisitedBEE IN THE KNOWAdventure Tips video ~ “Christmas 2020!
Over the past 14 years, we have visited hundreds of Ontario communities and events and have learned many fun and valuable lessons along the way!
As a result, we thought we would pass on these “lesson learned”, good and bad through our “BEE IN THE KNOW” video series.
It hard to believe that Christmas and the holiday season is almost here. It’s a time for family and love. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season!
AND… make sure you check out our ONTARIO EVENT DIRECTORY, there’s hundreds of “Ontario adventures” to choose from!

“A Taste of Fall”

“Holiday Decor”