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Artists, businesses need our support as we enter red zone

There are still ways to safely support local shops during the holiday season, columnist explains
2020-12-16 Meg Leslie
Meg Leslie. Supplied photo

Well, folks, here we are in the red zone, and numbers both locally and province-wide are climbing drastically. Can the grey zone be far behind? This is not the holiday time we wanted or imagined, but it’s the one we are stuck with, in good old 2020.

In the red zone, our small local shops and businesses are still open, with reduced numbers, so you can still support them and shop locally in this pandemic holiday season. If you can, shop in off-peak times, like first thing in the morning, and go now, rather than later, just in case we do move into the dreaded grey zone, or Ford does a province-wide lockdown, as Quebec has just announced, for after Christmas.

Our local artists and artisans are being super flexible, with curbside pickup and delivery, so do some Googling or Facebooking, and reach out to see what options are available.

For more local food and artisanal goods, check out both of our farmers’ markets, downtown and fairgrounds, for lots of delicious and beautiful gift options.

We are getting down to the wire, and that, combined with COVID-19, means that holiday events are getting scarcer. This weekend is the last weekend to see the Christmas Festival of Lights at Hewitt’s Fun Farm. Friday and Saturday, you can pay at the door. For Sunday, you must purchase tickets ahead of time. The show is open from 6 to 9 p.m. Check the Facebook page for more information. You can purchase your tickets for Sunday here. Only $10 per carload. Please, only go with people in your household.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) Holidate is running this Friday and Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m. You must buy your tickets and reserve your time in advance. Each $50 ticket gets you and your date an hour of time in the museum, a make-and-take art project, and snacks and a hot drink. To reserve your spot, call 705-326-2159.

Also, don’t forget that OMAH’s ongoing fundraiser, QuarARTine, is still running, thanks to lots of wonderful art being donated and supporters bidding. The final day for bidding for this round is Dec. 20, and then it will resume again sometime in January. To check it all out and bid on your fav piece of art, go here.

The Orillia Secondary School music department’s Virtual Christmas Concert is tonight, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m., on YouTube. Check it out here. Enjoy!

In the spirit of giving, local artist Meg Leslie is doing an ongoing collection of gently used or new art supplies as a safe drop-off to the black box on her front porch. All materials are being provided to homeless and vulnerable women in the community. She puts together arts/crafts kits for those in quarantine or others in need of creativity or self-expression. Please reach out to Meg for more details at 519-501-0680 or

Congratulations to Travis Shilling on the sale of two of his paintings to the Art Gallery of Ontario! What a huge accomplishment and a way to have 2020 seem a little bit better. Travis and his partner, Naomi Woodman, also run the Otter Art Club, which is gearing up for an online series of art lessons for kids, starting in January. For more information, check out the Facebook page here.

I will be taking a Christmas break from this column next week, and will be back up again on Dec. 30, so please have a merry and very safe and bubbled Christmas with those in your household. We can party again next year, hopefully. Take care and stay safe!