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COLUMN: Canada Day festivities highlight busy long weekend

See You on the Patio also begins anew on Friday and there are lots of other events happening this weekend, notes arts and entertainment columnist
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Canada Day volunteer Joyce Hird proudly “protects” the massive Canada Day cake that was cooling under the pavilion on the shore of Lake Couchiching in 2018. There will be cake on the menu again at the celebration at the park Friday. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters File Photo

I hate to tell you, but we are already heading into the Canada Day long weekend. Summers fly by so quickly, and this one is no exception.

Of course, the highlight this weekend is the big Orillia Canada Day party, down at Couchiching Beach Park. Back after a long COVID-19 hiatus, with bells on. All of our old favourites are here, including the midway, the morning pancake breakfast, the parades, live music, vendors, and the giant Canada Day cake, cut and served down at the pavilion by the water. Of course, the fun July 1 events will culminate with a huge fireworks display, visible from the whole park and beyond.

I know many of us have mixed feelings about Canada Day, with the history of our country and our First Nations brothers and sisters, and the co-opting of our flag by far-right conspiracy theorists and extremists. I choose to see Canada Day as a celebration of what will be, when we work together with our First Nations friends, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, and move past the fear and anger of the pandemic times. So, come on down to the park and enjoy the day’s events.

The pancake breakfast is at 8 a.m., the wheely great kiddie parade at 10:30 a.m., the rides and inflatables start at 11 a.m., the regular parade is at noon, there’s a beer garden into the evening, opening ceremonies at 1 p.m., and the cake at 2 p.m., aqnd then live music, and fireworks at dusk. Have a great day.

Friday, July 1 is also the first of the summer-long See You on the Patio nights in downtown Orillia. The streets will be closed, the patios will be set up, and the food and drinks will be flowing from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. each Friday up to and including Labour Day weekend.

As part of the See You on the Patio events, the Peter Street Arts District is having Summer Art Walks in and around the galleries along Peter Street, each Friday from 5 p.m. to dark. Come and browse the art and galleries in this lovely arts district, and buy some art.

Don’t forget about the Roger Harvey Tour in support of the Orillia Youth Centre, which includes three shows on June 30, July 1 and July 2 at Eclectic Café, FarmFest in Sebright, and the Collingwood Brewery, respectively. These will be amazing shows of wonderful music, some great food and drink, and a chance to support the youth in our community. Tickets are still available here.

A shout-out to Kevin Gangloff, youth centre director and driver of these special events. Despite suffering from a brutally debilitating chronic illness, he keeps on truckin’, tirelessly organizing and promoting these events as well as many more, and showing up for the youth in our community in a million ways.

Modest to a fault, he will be horrified that I am singling him out, but I have to say it: Three cheers for Kevin! If you see him out and about, stop and thank him for all the work he does and all the heart he has.

This Saturday, our neighbours in Elmvale are having a Sci-Fi Fantasy festival street party running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event just gets bigger and better, with vendors, cosplay, and lots more. Come check it out. It’s worth the drive to Elmvale.

The joint presentation of the Leacock Museum and Mariposa Arts Theatre, Bard in the Yard’s The Complete Works of Shakespeare, starts Thursday, running until July 7. Shows start at 6 p.m. Chairs are provided, and the event is outdoors at the museum. No better place to be in the summer. This will be awesome, so get your tickets here.

I just said there was no better place than the Leacock Museum in the summer, but I might have been lying because Mariposa Folk Festival is happening July 8 to 10 in Tudhope Park, and that park during Mariposa is heaven on earth.

The line-up, the scenery, the vendors, the food, the atmosphere — there really is nothing like it, and nothing better in terms of the quintessential summertime experience. If you are a regular, you know. If you aren’t, go. Just go. You will thank me later. Tickets and information at Don’t delay. This will be a sell-out year, I have no doubt.

Vinyl Night at Couchiching Craft Brewing Co. goes tonight and, in honour of Mariposa, July 7. More details here.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) hosts a closing reception for the exhibit, Dying Matters, July 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. Come look at this beautiful collaboration between OMAH and Hospice Orillia, before it closes.

Coming up? The Orillia Scottish Festival, July 16 in Couchiching Beach Park. More information coming soon. The 60th annual Muskoka Arts and Crafts summer show, July 15 to 17 at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge. And more on the Orillia Opera House Summer Theatre season.

Have a great long weekend and welcome to summer.

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