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Get festive at the fun farm or go on a 'holidate' at OMAH

Plenty to check out at this time of year, including Zain Campbell's heartfelt tribute to a late local musician, columnist explains
2020-12-09 Zain Campbell
Zain Campbell. Supplied photo

As we continue forward in this strange and different lead-up to Christmas, local cultural institutions and events are adapting to make things pandemic work for them — and you.

Hewitt’s Fun Farm came up with a great idea for all of us to safely enjoy that Christmas spirit: a drive-through Christmas festival. And we were all so desperate for a taste of Christmas cheer that they were hugely successful, almost beyond their capacity to manage. Lineups were long, and some tempers were frayed, although it seems like many were understanding and spent the time in the lineup singing Christmas carols and enjoying the night.

Hewitt’s has reconfigured the festival and is hoping to enlist the help of the local OPP to make sure everything goes smoothly, moving forward. For Dec. 10, 11 and 12, you can pay at the door; $10 per carload. For Dec. 13, tickets will be pre-purchased only, and same for Dec. 17 to 20, which will be available soon. Time is 5:30 to 9 p.m. and they are guaranteeing if you are in line by 9 p.m., you will be able to drive through and see the festival. They are asking everyone to enter Warminster Sideroad from Wainman Line, to help with traffic.

For more information, click here.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) is also helping you with Christmas spirit. Have you ever been on a Holidate? Here’s the lowdown, from the OMAH news: “Beginning Friday, Dec. 11, bring your special someone to OMAH for Holidate, a quarantine-safe, private date night.

“We are offering a unique experience where you and your holiday beau or belle can explore our first-floor gallery in privacy before joining us for a make-and-take art project. We are also bringing some rarely seen artifacts out of the vault specially for this program. We’ll wrap up with hot drinks and some sweet treats to get into the holiday spirit. Holidate will run every Friday and Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Registration is required at least 24 hours in advance. Space is limited to one group or couple at a time. Please call or come into OMAH to register today: 705-326-2159. Cost: $50 per couple, $45 for members.”

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

The music department at Orillia Secondary School has been creatively and safely teaching and rehearsing, and would like to show us all what the school’s musicians have been up to, in a virtual concert Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. Details will be posted soon on the music department’s social media platforms. Check it out here.

Speaking of virtual events, do you remember the Call 83 Truth and Reconciliation Art Project, which has made its home at St. Paul’s Centre since March 2018? This was a joint project of 16 Indigenous and settler artists, creating works that spoke to what T and R meant to them.

Well, St. Paul’s is excited to announce that Round 2 of this special exhibit is now up in the gallery at the centre, featuring 12 Indigenous and settler artists’ works. Again, pivoting with these pandemic times, there will be a virtual celebration and opening event, which will be part of the St. Paul’s United Church service this coming Sunday, Dec. 13 at 10:30 a.m.

To find the service, go to YouTube and search for St. Paul Orillia LIVESTREAM. Enjoy!

Merry Streets Alive Christmas is one event that is moving forward pretty normally this year. The last date to pick up your ornament and get your photo taken by Deb Halbot is this Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Peter Street Arts District. Thanks to Streets Alive Productions, Leslie Fournier and, of course, Deb for this super-special, fun event.

Both farmers’ markets are moving forward semi-normally this year with weekly Christmas markets. Masks on, of course. Do nip into both the downtown and fairgrounds markets on Saturday to pick up some locally made goodies and crafts for your special people.

Rustica Pizza Vino is having its second and last Outdoor Christmas Market this Friday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Lovely setting, some nice treats, and wonderful local artisans to support. Check it out!

There are a couple of fundraising events I want to mention. Orillia Concert Band, which has a venerable more than 30-year history, is having a fundraiser to help pay for some necessary costs, instrument storage, insurance, etc., and is hoping you can help.

Here is the fundraising page, and thanks for donating.

Otter Art Club is also fundraising to give 150 art kits to local kids so they can participate in the Otter Art Club online art lessons, coming Jan. 10. Please email to help give kids access to art this pandemic winter.

Speaking of youth, do you have a youth in your home who is into videography? Orillia District Arts Council (ODAC) is inviting local youth to take part in a videography contest, with the prize being a $100 gift card to Best Buy. Interested youth are invited to make a short video about the spirit of Christmas. For more information, email ODAC at

In closing, I would like to shout out to Zain Campbell, who has done an incredible job with his latest song and video project, Fences, based on an original song by HXMESWEETHXME, written and remixed by Zain. The community lost Jake Beers (HXMESWEETHXME) just over a year ago, and his birthday was this week. This song is an incredible, heartfelt tribute to Jake and all that he meant to his community, the youth centre, and his friends and family.

This is a very special song and I urge you to check it out here.

If you would like to donate to the Jake Beers Fund, or the Valis Forever Sound Studio, in honour of Nelson Bell, another fine young musician we lost too soon, please reach out to the Orillia Youth Centre at or through Facebook.

You can also make a donation to the Orillia Youth Centre at Home Depot, as the Orange Door Project this month benefits the centre.

Please take care as we move toward a very different holiday time here. Stay safe and mask up!

Send your arts news to by Tuesday at noon to be included in the column.