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COLUMN: Mariposa's triumphant return a showstopper

Columnist recalls highlights of weekend festival; plenty of entertainment options coming up

What a weekend! I am still on a high from an incredible comeback Mariposa Folk Festival, and I am sure, if you were there, you are, too. Everything, from the weather to the performers to the food to the setting, was as perfect as it could ever be. Hats off to everyone who pulled it together.

Highlights for me started off from the opening minutes of the Mariposa 60 in 60 anniversary celebration on Friday night. Lance Anderson put together his usual absolutely stellar group of musicians to do a tribute to the 60th anniversary of Mariposa, highlighting great performers and songs from the 60 years, and it was top-notch. Great arrangements and, of course, wonderful musicianship. A fantastic way to start the two-year-delayed 60th anniversary.

Other highlights through the weekend? The workshop Harder Faster Better Stronger with female powerhouses Tami Neilson, RupLoops, This Way North, and local Kayla Mahomed, on the pub stage, was a mind-blowing showcase of musicianship, with everyone jumping in on everything with incredible results. It was electrifying.

East Meets Oz and Lots in Between with This Way North, The Fretless, and classical pianist Sarah Hagen was another example of incredible musicianship, showing if you are truly talented, it doesn’t matter what your musical genre is; you can jump in and run with anything. Side note: It was a real treat to hear some beautiful classical music played at a folk festival.

Unsettled, Jeff Monague’s songs in Ojibwe (his first time singing in his native language), was breathtaking. Of course, Mavis Staples was unreal, and transported us to another dimension. Awesome to see Murray McLauchlan. Would have loved to have heard more of him. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings were as amazing as always.

Sunday, I loved the Music in the Mirror workshop with Begonia (wow!), Kellie Loder (wow again!), The Pairs and Logan and Lyla Staats. Again, incredible grouping that made the most of the workshop format. Afterward, we got a bit distracted seeing tons of people we hadn’t seen in three years, and catching up, but the Gordon Lightfoot songs workshop was a highlight, and it was wonderful to see Gord there loving every minute of it.

Great to see Gord finally get his Mariposa Hall of Fame certification — that was a long time coming — and to hear him sing If You Could Read My Mind. He really is our hero.

Mariposa finished off with a bang, with Serena Ryder doing an incredible set, full of love and incredibly strong performance and musicianship. She was obviously over the moon to be back. And then, iconic Canadian band Blue Rodeo blew us away to round out a perfect festival weekend. This one will be talked about forever. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in it, and congratulations on a sell-out crowd.

Coming up this weekend, the long-pandemic-delayed 44th annual Orillia Scottish Festival. The festival kicks off Friday at 6:30 p.m. with a ceilidh at the Orillia Legion featuring Strange Potatoes and the Legion pipes and drums. There will be food and drinks, and this is a ticketed event. You can get your tickets here.

Saturday, the festival starts at noon, with a parade from Peter Street, down Mississaga Street, ending at Couchiching Beach Park. It continues with pipes, drums, dancers, and lots more throughout the day, ending with the closing ceremonies and mass bands at 5 p.m. This is a free event, although you are asked to buy a Scottish Festival button for a toonie to help defray costs.

Sunday, the festival is back at the Legion with a ceilidh there starting at 1:30 p.m., also open to the public. Come out and celebrate the Scottish heritage that is in many of us. For more information, click here.

Also this weekend, the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show celebrates 60 years, at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge. Many artists and artisans will be out showing and selling their wares, and the weather looks good. July 15 and 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and July 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come out and support local makers and enjoy the show. For more information and to buy tickets, check out the website here.

July 20, check out the Rotary Aqua Theatre grand reopening, starting at 6:30 p.m. with the Orillia Big Band, followed by official remarks, Rama Boys Drum Group, Orillia Little Big Band, Rotary Trivia, and then the concert film featuring The Tragically Hip at dusk. July 24 at 6:30 p.m., come listen to the Barrie Concert Band at the Rotary Aqua Theatre.

Also this weekend: Friday-night See You on the Patio in downtown Orillia. Come enjoy patio dining and shopping from 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday at 1 p.m., enjoy Jazz in the Afternoon with Chris Robinson and Will Davis at Couchiching Craft Brewing Co. Saturday at 7 p.m., the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band will be at the brewery.

Driving Miss Daisy, the next summer theatre offering at the Orillia Opera House, gets started July 20 and runs until Aug. 12. Get your tickets here for this classic production.

Horseshoe Resort is having a Wednesday-night summer concert series, starting July 13 and running every two weeks, featuring classic tribute bands on the patio. July 13, Fifty 50; July 27, Practically Hip; Aug. 10, True Rodeo; and Aug. 24, Orangeman Band. Shows start at 7 p.m., and if the weather goes south, move indoors to the Crazy Horse.

Downtown Orillia’s Summer Block Party is July 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Come downtown and see all the great deals, music, and fun there is to be had. And July 29 is Creative Nomad Studio’s Summer Night Market. More wonderful artisans and beautiful works of art to be had there.

I am off next week, but send your arts news to annaproctor111@gmail.com by Tuesday, July 26 at noon to be in the next column. Enjoy the summer.