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COLUMN: It's time to get your culture on, Orillia

Culture Days will be kicked off in Orillia with a flash mob and will feature a mix of in-person and virtual events this year
Ron Douglas credit Ron Douglas
Ron Douglas and his band will present a free concert at St. James Anglican Church as part of Orillia's Culture Days celebration this fall. Contributed photo

Culture Days has been a big event in Ontario and Orillia for several years, but COVID-19 kind of defeated it last year.

This year, Culture Days runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 24 in Ontario, and the Orillia District Arts Council board have put together a bunch of fun activities and events, both in-person and online, throughout that time period.

To kick things off, join in a flash mob on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m., in Market Square, just after the market ends.

Then, kick your shoes off and relax on your couch while watching a virtual tour of the 2021 Streets Alive sculptures, Hippie Vans, on YouTube. The video will be available throughout Culture Days.

There will also be a youth art showcase shown virtually, again on YouTube, for the duration of the festival. This is curated by Information Orillia.

More into in-person events? How about a bucket drumming workshop, Oct. 2 from 1-2 p.m., and 2 to 3 p.m., in the Market Square courtyard? This will be led by local drummer extraordinaire, John Swartz. 

Also in-person, there will be art and mental health workshops at The Meeting Place, 28 West St. N., Fridays in October from noon to 4 p.m.

The grand finale? A free show by the Ronnie Douglas Band, at St. James’ Anglican Church, on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.

You must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the in-person events.

For lots more information and to register, visit the Orillia District Arts Council website here or the Culture Days website here. Have a cultural fall!

Speaking of the Orillia District Arts Council (ODAC), it is time once again for the annual Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards. ODAC teams up with the Orillia Museum of Art and History and the City of Orillia’s Business Development, Culture and Tourism Department each year, to present these important awards to folks in our culture and heritage sector.

There are five award categories, the nomination process is simple and streamlined, and anyone can nominate someone. The nomination deadline this year is Oct. 18, and the awards show will be livestreamed on Nov. 24. Here are the five categories:

Education in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award looks to recognize an educator, not necessarily a teacher by profession, whose knowledge and teaching skills inspire others to pursue their interest in the arts and heritage.

Emerging Artist Award recognizes an individual of any age who is in the early years (under five years) of launching a career in the arts. Nominees can be pursuing any genre of art including, but not limited to, visual arts, performance arts, literary arts and many more.

Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication Award recognizes an individual or group who brought to life regional history through a physical restoration or creation of a permanent public record.

Event in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award looks to honour an individual, organization, or corporation for their part in organizing a single or annual event that showcases the region’s creative talent or cultural heritage.

The Qennefer Browne Achievement Award recognizes an individual or group of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of their community. Nominees may include artists, historians, volunteers, cultural organizations and donors. This award honours Qennefer Browne, who gave much of herself to support both arts and heritage organizations within the region.

The simple nomination process can all be done online, through the portal here. Please take a few minutes of your time to nominate someone today, it means so much! If you have any questions about the nomination process, you can reach out to me at, I am the nomination committee chair. Hurry, Oct. 18 will be here before you know it!

Lots of other bits and bobs coming up fast. Creative Nomad Studios still has space in several of its fall classes, including Dance Balm, a gentle moves program with Miriam Goldberger; Painting Like the Masters; Photography Essentials; and Watercolour for Beginners. Register online for all of these in-person classes here.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) has some fall workshops as well, including Unmake the Unwearable, a two-week workshop with Jill Price, on September 18 and 25. If you have inherited a fur piece from a relative, and don’t quite know what to do with it, this is the workshop for you.

OMAH also has a two-week workshop for kids ages six to eleven, called Becoming an Animal, which runs Saturdays, Sept. 18 and 25 at 10 a.m. This workshop helps young artists get inside the mind of an animal and then create handmade zines which tell stories from the perspective of an animal. This workshop is also run by Jill Price. For more information and to register for these workshops, click here.

Music-wise, a couple of great musical evenings coming up.

The Orillia Youth Centre presents Irish Mythen Saturday September 25 at 6 p.m., outdoors under a tent at ODAS Park. This event has been sold out for weeks, but just the other day a couple of tickets became available, so if you are dying to see Irish again, check out the event page here to see if more tickets become available. Skye Wallace and Roger Harvey will open for Irish. Patrons need to be fully vaccinated to attend.

Speaking of Roger Harvey, another great event featuring him, Sean Patrick, and SAMMY (Sam Johnston), is happening on Monday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m., at Creative Nomad Studios. Tickets for this one are $10 and all proceeds will go to the Green Haven Shelter for Women here in town. Find out lots more and grab a ticket here. Again, attendees must be fully vaccinated.

Sustainable Orillia is putting on an art show, as part of Sustainable Orillia month this September. Currently, the show is available to be seen at the Orillia Square mall, until Sept. 18. Then, it will move to Hibernation Arts at 17 Peter St. S. from Sept. 21 to the 25. For the final week, Sept. 27 to Oct. 2, the display will be at Creative Nomad Studios. Please go check it out at any of these great locations.

A quick note, the Alex Andrews concert at Hibernation Arts has been cancelled.

Have a great week! If you have arts news, email it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.