“Exploring ~ Spotlighting ONTARIO Communities and Events Since 2007″

Ontario Festivals

Summer Fun!

Like most people, Judi and I look forward to summer and all it has to offer!

In this month’s issue of the Ontario Visited INSIDER, we are featuring Ontario’sfestivals and theatres”. Scoop (Judi) and I have visited hundreds festivals, events, and fairs. Many of the events we have enjoyed include Ontario theatre performances, from large and elaborate productions (Shaw Festival and Stratford Theatres), to smaller and more intimate performances (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival and Port Colborne’s Showboat Theatre). One year I even enjoyed a childrens play by the Suitcase Theatre ensemble. It’s the same with festivals, we have enjoyed both larger (Ottawa’ Canada Day Celebrations) and smaller (Codrington Family Night) events. All these wonderful events represent the people and communities they are held in. They are the true fabric of this amazing province (Ontario) that we live!

The first article in this month’s INSIDER is all about “Tasty Festivals”. Ontario communities host many of them, from apple festivals to peach festivals, and from wine and food events to barbeques. In this article, the “Nomad” gives his take on “Cranberries and Peaches”. The second article features a video highlighting some of the many festivals and theatres we have visited over the years. Then, it’s our Ontario Community Spotlight, presented by All-Purpose Realty and Ontario Visited. The community spotlighted this month is the Village of Blyth. Very appropriate, because it is the home of the Blyth Festival Theatre. Our final article is an interview with Shaw Festival’s Julie Lumsden. Julie plays the lead role (Gypsy Rose Lee) in Shaw’s production of Gypsy.

Tasty Festivals…


Article by Gary McWilliams (aka Festival Nomad               Original Artwork by K.C. (Susan) Caron

Judi and I love to visit festivals. I think some of our most favourites involve fruit and fruit themes! I am always interested in seeing how festival organizers incorporate “fruit themes” into their festival plans. Some are more imaginative than others. Take for example the Bala Cranberry Festival held each fall. Everywhere you looked the fruit was present. There were cranberry booths dotted amongst most of the festival’s attractions and activities. Each booth offered a variety of different cranberry products. The biggest attraction, however, at the festival was the Johnson’s Cranberry Farm. To get to it you had to drive a little out of down, but then again, who wants a cranberry marsh in the middle of town! Once we were at the farm there was a lot to see and do. We were amazed at what their farm store offered! Here is just a small sampling of the products we saw: wines (there were too many different types to count!), juices and jams (many different combinations); chocolates (too yummy for words!), candles (a variety of scents) and the list goes on!

Unfortunately for me, I am not that fond of cranberries, but Judi is! Peaches on the other hand, present a much different story! I am a peach fanatic, especially peach pie! We visited the Winona Peach Festival.  In the centre of the festival grounds is a large “Food Court”. Almost every booth offered different kinds of peach foods, pies cobblers, ice cream and on. The beautiful thing about this festival and its “Food Court” is that all the food vendors are run and manned by local charities, church groups, service clubs and sports associations. This translates into fresh “homemade” food! Now I know that you all know that the “Festival Nomad” is very community oriented and that if I can help out the community, we are visiting I will. So, it should come of no surprise when you hear that I decided to support one of the fine community groups! The “homemadepeach pie being sold by the lady’s church group got my support! I purchased a big juicy piece of freshly baked peach pie from them! As I ate it, my community spirits rose to a new high!

Now, all I must do is to find a “BANANA” Festival!

Ontario Festivals and Theatres…

Festivals, fairs, attractions and events all represent the communities they are produced and held in. They show the pride that the residents have in their community. Hours upon hours of volunteer dedication go into each event. Judi and I our proud to have visited and enjoyed so many of this wonderful communities and all they have to offer!

The video shown below contains only a few of the amazing events we have experienced.

Ontario Community Spotlight ~ Blyth

This month’s Ontario Community Spotlight, presented by All-Purpose Realty and Ontario Visited, is the Village of Blyth.

I knew that Blyth was the home of the Blyth Festival Theatre, but I had never been to Blyth.  This was about to change!

My son and his family recently moved Auburn, which is a few miles from Blyth.

While visiting my son and his family, I suggested to Judi that it might be fun to visit Blyth. She agreed. So, it was off to another Ontario Visited adventure! Blyth is a beautiful small community with a “big” reputation! As I mentioned, it is the home of the famous Blyth Festival and the Blyth Festival Theatre. The Blyth Festival Theatre’s season runs from the end of May to the end of September.

Exploring Blyth was an interesting experience. With a population of about 1,000 residents, you’d that it would be a sleepy little community with nothing to do. That would be the farthest thing from the truth! The Centre offers plenty of activities for Blyth and the surrounding area. Each fall Blyth host the annual Huron Pioneer Thresher’s “Steam Show”. So much for “nothing to do” in a small village! Speaking of “nothing” or “something” to do, Blyth is now the home of the Cowbell Brewing Company, with a great restaurant. Something tells me that the next time we visit my son, a trip to the Village of Blyth and the Cowbell Brewery restaurant we be on the agenda!

If you are looking for a fun place to visit, take a trip to Blyth and enjoy all if has to offer!

Click HERE for the Google Map of Blyth.

Read more about this great Ontario community by clicking HERE.

Come to The Shaw Festival this Summer!

Join us at The Shaw and experience fantastic and unique theatrical encounters, plus musical concerts and inspiring performances outdoors this summer. World-class theatre — in blissful Niagara wine country. 14 plays plus Outdoors @ The Shaw, Spiegeltent – a new outdoor venue … Ready? We certainly are!

An Interview with Julie Lumsden

That’s showbiz!

You are a star! And I made you one!” – Gypsy

Mother-daughter relationships always make for inspirational stories. One of the most famous, and fraught is certainly the one between Gypsy Rose Lee and her Mama. Julie Lumsden takes on the role of the famous American burlesque entertainer and Kate Hennig plays the ambitious and domineering stage mother. Last season Julie portrayed the tormented wife in Gaslight and this season she gets to shed her constraints … and her clothes. Julie chatted with us about her season at The Shaw and how one gets ready to play such a famous character.

Julie Lumsden as Louise with Showgirls in Gypsy (Shaw Festival, 2023). Photo by David Cooper.

How did your interest in acting come about?

I have always loved performing and expressing myself (loudly) through song. I started in church plays and choirs. I was always in the front row, as I was such an expressive (loud) singer, they wanted to make sure I was seen (they wanted to make sure I didn’t cause permanent hearing loss to any of my peers by standing behind them). Playing pretend was always a favourite around my house, too. My older brother James would write plays for myself and my two sisters to star in. His most critically (Grandma and Grandpa Lumsden) acclaimed piece starred he and I in: Batman & Robina. A tale of two superheroes, taking down the bad guys. James was really the first one to see my potential, and for that I will always be eternally grateful to him.

… a gorgeously acted, fun but deeply felt production” – The Globe and Mail

Can you tell our readers a bit about Gypsy Rose Lee and how you are preparing for the role?

What I love most about this musical is that it is based around the true lives of these human, beautiful, flawed and intelligent women. There’s so much to say about Gypsy Rose Lee, our Louise. She was a revolutionary. She completely reinvented and reinvigorated the art of burlesque. She had a fierce sense of humour, wit and smarts that launched her as one of the biggest stars of Minksy’s Burlesque. In addition to that, she was an author, a mother, a playwright and an actress. To learn more about our star of stars, I’ve been reading. A lot. The source material for the musical is Gypsy: A Memoir, an autobiography by Lee, so this has been my main insight. Of course, Gypsy’s own recounting of her life is somewhat of a dramatization, so I am balancing that out with Karen Abbott’s biography called American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare and the biography written by her son My G-String Mother: At Home and Backstage with Gypsy Rose Lee. 

Momma Rose is the ultimate “Stage Mother”. How have your parents supported your dreams of a career in the arts?

Lucky for me, my parents are the complete opposite of our lovely Momma Rose. My parents raised all of us to find what we are passionate about and seek it in our daily lives. My parents and my extended family have always had a love of music and art, so when I wanted to pursue a degree in Classical Voice Performance at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Music, they were pleased, albeit a bit surprised! It’s been a joy of mine to see how my parents have learned and grown alongside me, most notably, learning when to clap in a classical music concert. Their love and support of the arts has grown even beyond my career! I am so proud of them; they have even opened our home and billeted Winnipeg Fringe Fest performers. I could not be where I am without their unwavering support, love and big laughs from the audiences! Love you J & T!

Kate Hennig as Rose and Jason Cadieux as Herbie in Gypsy (Shaw Festival, 2023). Photo by David Cooper.

What else can we see you in this season at The Shaw?

Although I haven’t seen Cory Sincennes costume design yet, I’m sure you’ll be seeing a whole lot of me in Gypsy: A Musical Fable! 😉 But if you’re looking for more – head over to the Royal George and look for me in Craig Hall’s take on On the Razzle, a Tom Stoppard farce! It’s sure to be a hoot!

Resplendent … two superb performances from [Kate] Hennig and Julie Lumsden.” – Toronto Star

Gypsy runs until October 7. Directed by Jay Turvey and with choreography by Genny Sermonia, this is going to be an unforgettable theatre experience. 


Ontario Theatres