Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Attention Animal Lovers…

It’s amazing how well festivals and animal fit together! I had never really thought about it until I started examining festivals and their common links. The more I thought about, the more I realized how large a part animals played in the majority of the festivals that Judi and I had visited. Out of the 10 festivals visited, 7 had had animals involvement in one form or another! I’ll quickly go down the list. The Fur Trade Re-enactment at Lang Pioneer Village had a number of farm animals plus a horse drawn wagon ride. The Old Time Fiddle Championships in Shelburne had a number of horses in their parade. The Kingston Sheep Dog Trials was really animal oriented! There were, of course, dogs (Border Collies) and sheep, but they also included 2 horse drawn shuttle wagons, a birds of prey demonstration by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy plus two other animal presentations, one by Jungle Cat World and the other by Little Ray’s Reptiles! The Rural Ramble Farm Tour featured numerous farm animals including cows, pigs, chickens, sheep and horses. At the Fort Henry Sunset Ceremony, the Fort Henry Guard’s mascot is a goat named David IX. The Orono Fair had animals galore, chicken (lot of them!), ducks, rabbits, cows and horses! Finally, at the Dine and Shine in Lang Pioneer Village Museum, not only did they have their traditional horse drawn wagon ride, but they had their own unique brush with wildlife! Just as Village Museum Manager, Joe Corrigan, was about to welcome the attendees, a flock of Canada Geese flew over the event giving us all a very loud, but appreciated Canadian “fly-by” (NASCAR eat your hearts out!)! So, if you are an animal lover, Ontario festivals and events are a must for you!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Staring Down the Competition…

I always have great fun when I go to a fundraising auction dinner. Most have good basic food and an atmosphere that is happy and festive. But the real fun is people watching! During a “silent” auction it is fascinating watching people’s “strategy”! Some people “sneak up” to the bid sheet, look around to see if anyone is looking and then quickly write down their bid. If a bidding number is available, they use it rather than disclosing their name! While some bidders may be “sneaky”, others are “bold”! They walk up to the bid sheet, look around defying anyone to challenge them and then boldly scrawl their name on the sheet! Then they look around again telling anyone who will listen that they will “win” this item! Once an initial bid has been made, most bidders become very possessive when it comes to “their” item! They tell their friends that it’s “theirs”. They jump up when anyone goes near “their” item! If someone has the audacity to bid against them they become quite defensive even “stock’ the offender in extreme cases. And, if they lose, they become pouty and withdrawn (at least for a little while)! It’s all in great fun and for a worthy cause.

Live auctions can be even more entertaining. Many times it’s like a boxing match! At first “opponents” just spare, checking each other out. They make little bids and then stop as though they are giving up, out of the bidding. Then they start again, bidding in a flurry! Finally one of them many “throw” the “big bid”. They step up the bid so high that they “knock” their opponent out of the bidding! Sometime the “big bid” doesn’t knock the opponent out. They just become more stubborn and start to borough in. The bids go higher and higher until someone flinches and a winner is declared! The beautiful thing about this type of bidding is that everyone wins! The audience wins because the “fight’ has been great entertainment! The organizers win because the item that was bid on brings a big profit for their cause! The winning bidder wins because he/she won! The losing bidder wins because he/she didn’t! At the end of the evening everyone goes home happy because they know that they have helped a “great cause”!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Best Laid Plans…

Judi and I schedule our festival visits a month or two in advance. We have been trying to visit as many Ontario communities and their festivals and events as possible! Past years have made it particularly difficult to keep up our schedules. Rain and thunderstorms have been the main cause of cancellations.
One year, we had planned, three times, to visit the Peterborough and three times we had to cancel. The first due to illness and the other two due to rain and thunderstorms! The final planned visit was successful and we had a great “rockin’’” time! Perseverance paid off!
Then there was our planned visit to Fort Henry. We made arrangements to visit their famous Tattoo performance. In Cobourg, it was the worst storm of the last 10 years. Record amounts of water fell that day. It was hard to justify a 3 hour trip (there and back) when the chances of the event being cancelled were very high, so we cancelled. It took two attempts to finally visit the Fort. On the second attempt the weather was fantastic as was the Sunset Ceremony that we were privileged to enjoy! We were fortunate with these two destinations. Both had multiple performances, so if we missed one, we could reschedule.
We weren’t so lucky with Canadian Open Fiddle Championships in Shelburne! Even though the weatherman suggested that there was a possibility of showers, we decided to make the trip to Shelburne. It was an event we really didn’t want to miss! So we packed our car, picked up our 4 year old granddaughter and started off on our 3 hour plus trip. The weather was sunny and bright when we started off. However, as we progress towards our destination the skies grew cloudy and then dark! We were three quarters of the way there, so we were committed. Besides, I am the perpetual optimist. The weather was sure to clear up? When we arrive the rain was coming down in buckets! Undaunted the three of up climb out of our car, bundled up and walked to the main street. Other brave souls we lined up on the street, so we joined them! After a short while, the parade started and it, of course, was a long one! The rain was still pouring down! By the end of the parade we all looked like drowned rats! The rain was letting up a little, but it hadn’t stopped. We headed back to our car. We looked for the other planned activities but could find them. Our guess, since they were outdoor activities, that they were cancelled. Even with all the rain, the parade was great and our granddaughter loved it. There were many puddle to jump in and lots of thrown candy to pick up! It was disappointing to travel that far and not to see the whole event!
Oh well, “the best laid plans”!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Economical Travel…

With the high price of gas these days, it’s hard for the “Festival Nomad” to travel inexpensively. Unfortunately, unlike my desert namesakes, I don’t ride (drive) a camel that can go forever on a tank of “water”! Although my vehicle is fairly gas efficient, it’s not perfect and neither is my driving. I’m like many people, I want to get there “yesterday”! I usually push “the envelop” by driving 20km above the highway speed limit. That is, I did this until a few weeks ago. Judi and I had scheduled a visit to Morrisburg and Upper Canada Village. Taking the 401 Highway, it’s about a 3 hour trip. This trip I decided to experiment with my speed. As soon as we got in to the highway I set the cruise control for 103kms. It was weird being passed by so many people, especially the big 18 wheelers! Yes, it did take us a little longer, but our gas mileage was terrific! I couldn’t believe we had gone so far on so little gas! We did the same on the way back, only this time I opened the windows and turned off the air conditioning. I continue driving at the lower speeds until my gas tank was almost empty. I had increased my mileage per tank by about 40% or in my case by 250kms. I couldn’t believe the final results! I mentioned my experiment to a car expert friend and he said he wasn’t surprised be the results, although he didn’t think turning off the air conditioner and opening the windows was helpful. He felt that the air drag caused by open window would offset any cost savings. I continued the experiment on all subsequent travels with similar results! My experiment has now turned into a way of life (driving that is)! So if you are still driving fast, “honk” as you pass me!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The “Magic’ of Cameras! (Part Two)

Now, having a camera is one thing, using it properly is another! I am still a big amateur in this area, especially when trying to take video shots. A few months ago I had the great idea to include video clips in my Ontario Visited Adventure articles. I thought that this would add a new dimension to my depiction of the communities and events Judi and I visit. The problem is. I still haven’t mastered keeping my hands still as I am videoing. To make matters worse, my zooming in and out isn’t consistent and I’m having problems focusing long distance shots! I know I will improve over time, but it is frustrating because I want everything to be perfect! My other camera “challenges” include forgetting to take the camera lens cap off before shooting, forgetting to change the shooting modes from still to movie and my favourite, trying not to tip over when videoing fast moving aerobatic airplanes at an air show, especially when they are traveling at Mach 3! This happened at the Canadian Aviation Expo during their air show. I was videoing three- time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, Patty Wagstaff. I was doing fine until Patty came over us at full speed. I was so caught up in videoing her I almost toppled over. If my son-in-law hadn’t been there to catch me, I would have fallen straight on to my behind! I did get some great shots though! Photographing can be a dangerous business! So, if you see someone fiddling with their camera at a festival, it’s probably me! If you know anything about cameras, stop and say hello and then HELP ME!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The “Magic’ of Cameras! (Part One)

The worst thing that could happen to the “Festival Nomad” is to forget his camera! Now I know that you are probably saying “Boy, what a big baby!” Perhaps that’s true, but my camera is my crutch! I use it as my ears and my memory. Since I write most of my articles after Judi and I visit an event, I use the photos to “jog” my memory of what I saw and heard. Without my camera, I would be lost or. At least, severely hampered.
I always pack my “festival kit” the night before. It includes business cards, notes about the community or event we are visiting, recording equipment and my cameras, with batteries (can’t run recording equipment and cameras without batteries). By the way, never give any of your spare batteries to anyone without replacing them. I gave my daughter two batteries and then forgot to replace them. At the next event I went to I needed four new batteries and I only had two. Fortunately it was near the end of the event some I didn’t need to take many more photos. If it had have been early, It could have been a disaster! Now I only carry rechargeable batteries and I don’t “lend” them to anyone! Of course, I still have to remember to take them with me!

(Continued… Part Two)


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dead Men Talking!

Over the few years Judi and I have visited a number of military re-enactments. They are great fun to see and experience! The sound of the cannons being fired and the smell of gunpowder all add to the adventure! Most of these re-enactments take place during the hot summer months and many of the re-enactors wear stifling wool uniforms. It makes me hot and sweaty just thinking about it! The re-enactors attention to detail is legendary. Everything has to be perfect, true to the period they are depicting. Walking through one of their encampments, you can actually visualize yourself being back in time! On the battlefield it is even more captivating. You can feel the intensity of the battle! Guns firing, smoke filling the air, soldiers marching and officers shouting orders, advances and retreats, all for the sake of authenticity! As the battle progresses, soldiers begin to fall as though they have been shot! They lie there as their comrades walk over them! The sun scorches their fallen bodies! Truly “in the heat of the battle”! There is so much happening; it’s hard to take it all in! Who notices that some of the “dead” have dragged themselves to the shade of the “old oak tree”? Who can tell that there are “dead men talking”!