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Downtown Orillia will be hopping Friday night, Saturday

Art, sidewalk sales, buskers, entertainment, kids' activities ... lots happening at Summer Block Party, says arts and entertainment columnist
Bleeker credit Bleeker
Hometown boys Bleeker will be playing unplugged this Saturday at the Geneva Event Centre to raise funds for Strings for Students.

This summer has been a whirlwind of exciting events so far, and this coming weekend is no exception.

The fun starts downtown on Friday with the Night Market, on the library block downtown, from 6 to 9 p.m. Check out lots of great talent and artisanal goods, and watch the sun go down.

It's a fun kick-off to the downtown Orillia Summer Block Party this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lots of great music, art, interactive activities, shopping, delicious food and kid-friendly activities. The streets will be closed, so find alternate routes or park your car and have a blast!

To go along with the theme of summer block party fun, the Orillia Farmers’ Market downtown is having a Buskerfest during market hours, Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nip by and grab lots of homemade, local food and treats and enjoy the entertainment provided by all the talented buskers at this enjoyable event.

While you are downtown, check out the main street's newest addition: Makers Market, at 23 Mississaga St. E., site of the old Patilero Bakery. Owners Dave and Beth Shaw, who also own Northern Joinery, value community over competition and are looking forward to showcasing over 30 makers' wares at their new store opening Saturday.

Also drop by and check out new store 6 Doors Up Interiors, at 96 Mississaga St. E. This lovely home décor and furnishings shop has been open for a while, but their grand opening is Saturday, so come by and enjoy the fun. This establishment is owned and operated by the guys at OC Emporium; expect the same great quality and service in both locations.

Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m., local painter Melody Lynn Madden will be having a Meet the Artist event at her show in the Lounge Gallery at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH), at 30 Peter St. S.

Come and meet Melody and find out more about her journey from "Exquisite to Sublime," and from fibre arts to painting, at this unique retrospective exhibit. Can’t make the opening? Not to fret, Melody’s works will be on display until Sept. 22, so drop in when it suits you.

Also at OMAH, on Sunday night from 7 to 9 p.m., check out the storytelling event, Dangerous Dames. This event is in conjunction with the exhibit When Raven Meets Spider, which re-imagines Indigenous stories using popular comic book imagery. The dangerous dames are real-life storytellers, Sherry Lawson, Becky Big Canoe and Kim Desmoulin.

These empowered women are speaking out to make an impact in others’ lives and you will be inspired by their stories and them. This is a ticketed event, tickets are $10 for members and $15 for non-members and can be purchased here or by calling OMAH at 705-326-2159 or coming in person.

OMAH also has a gallery tour Friday at 1:30 p.m. Come by for an in-depth tour of one of the shows on display currently. Free with admission.

This Saturday at the Geneva Event Centre, come check out hometown heroes who made it big, Bleeker, along with their friends Danny Webster and Doug Trucker, in a fundraising concert for Strings for Students.

Monies from this show will go to purchase guitars for music students at Patrick Fogarty Catholic High School in Orillia. This will be a fun night for a great cause. Tickets are $10 in advance at Gilbert’s Guitars and Alleycats Music and Art, or $15 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Also on Saturday, but file it under family fun … the Leacock Museum Off the Shelf children’s book theme for this summer, the works of Roald Dahl. Come enjoy activities and events based on the books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and lots more. $5 suggested donation at the museum. The fun starts at 1 p.m.

Are you feeling theatrical? Well, you are in luck.

Both the Gravenhurst and Orillia Opera Houses (OOH) have great shows opening this week as part of their summer theatre extravaganzas. The OOH presents The Gentleman Clothier from July 24 to Aug. 9 at various times.

This fun show is a comedy that will leave you in 'stitches'. And local sponsor-at-large and all-around supporter of everything, Steve Orr from Dapper Depot has not only sponsored the show, but dressed the cast as well. So do grab a ticket here.

The Gravenhurst Opera House’s second show in its summer season is Dean and Jerry: What Might Have Been. This fast-paced and lively musical puts Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis together forever for a wonderful and hilarious night of music and comedy for all to enjoy. Dean and Jerry runs from July 24 to Aug. 16 and you can get tickets here.

Don’t forget about the free noon-hour organ recitals at St. James' Anglican Church at the corner of Peter and Coldwater. Up Wednesday, July 31 at 12:15 p.m. is organist Brian Turnbull from Clarkson Road Presbyterian in Mississauga, and on Aug. 7, Mathew Whitfield from St. Thomas Anglican Toronto.

Also don’t forget about the Sunday evening band concerts sponsored by the city, every Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Couchiching Beach Aquatheatre, all summer long. This Sunday, it’s the Barrie Skyliners Big Band, and the next, the Muskoka Concert Band.

Come out to the Geneva Event Centre July 26 for the hip hop band Losers Club. Tickets are $15 at the door. Music in the bars? You betcha. At the Brownstone Café, Thursday Pride Night, Friday Craig Robertson, Saturday A Weekend at Ramona’s, July 31 Hibbard’s Hustlers. At the Hog ‘n’ Penny, Friday Darrin Davis.

At Fionn MacCool’s Waterfront, Saturday Therapy Seekers and Sunday at 2 p.m. on the patio, Dennis and Jakob.

Send your arts and entertainment news and events to me at by Tuesday at noon to get in next week’s column.