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Scottish Festival will kick off another busy weekend in Orillia

Big Sky, Yuk Yuks, Nelson's Gift, Annie ... there's something for everyone this weekend, says arts and entertainment columnist
barrie pipes and drums
Come and see Pipe Bands like the Barrie Pipes and Drums, pictured here, at the 42nd annual Scottish Festival at Couchiching Beach Park, this Saturday. Barrie Pipes and Drums photo

All right, who reading this has at least some Scottish heritage?

According to the 2011 Census, over 15% of Canadians, or 4.7 million people, have Scottish heritage, and 2.1 million of them live in Ontario. So yeah, you probably have some Scottish mixed in there somewhere! Which means, you should go check out the Scottish Festival this weekend down at Couchiching Beach Park and at the Legion.

This is the 42nd year of the festival which is celebrating Clan Buchanan this year.

On Friday night, the fun begins at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 34 with a Scottish ceilidh featuring Ugly Horse, a Celtic band from Durham region; Highland dancers, City of Orillia Pipe and Drums, and Brad Woods, storyteller. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the fun gets underway at 7 p.m. Fifteen bucks at the door gets you all that fun plus a light meal.

Saturday, the parade gets the day started sharp at noon. You can come out and buy a button for $2 and enjoy so many fun and fantastic family-friendly activities down at the park. There will be a children’s village, dancers, reenactors, pipe and drum bands, Scottish Country Dance lessons, a pub, tug o’ war, and lots more, running right until the early evening hours.

Sunday, the festival finishes off with the Kirkin o’ the Tartan at 10 a.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Peter St. N., then a final shindig of Scottish entertainment at the Legion at 1:30 p.m. with Tom Leadbetter from Cape Breton, a pipe band performance, and some Highland dancers. Come check it all out, you won’t be disappointed!

There are another couple of events happening this Saturday that I want to mention.

One, is the Valis705Forever fundraiser, Nelson’s Gift, happening at ODAS Park. There are fun, family-friendly activities and a silent auction running from 2 to 5 p.m. and then from 6 p.m. on, it is a $15 in advance/$20 at the door, ticketed event with live music, bar, and fun until 1 a.m. Come out and support this fundraiser in honour of Nelson Bell, a young man who was taken too early and who will live on in the legacy of a scholarship in his name. For more information, check out the Facebook page

Also this Saturday is the Big Sky Music Festival at Burl’s Creek. Hard on the heels of its very successful Rolling Stones concert—the band’s only Canadian date—Burl’s Creek is presenting country singers Alabama, Travis Tritt, Diamond Rio and more classical country legends.

Doors open at noon but you can get in and start camping Friday night. There will also be a country market and a classic car show. For tickets and more information, go to the website.

If you feel like staying in town this Saturday night, The Geneva Event Centre on West Street South is hosting Yuk Yuk’s Stand up comedy, for about $25 a ticket. Doors are at 8 p.m. and laughs are guaranteed. For more information and tickets visit the website.

What else is going on? Lots. You can have a guided tour of the Sir Sam Steele building, otherwise known as the Orillia Museum of Art and History, at 30 Peter St. S., on Friday at 1:30 p.m. This tour is free with price of admission, which is $5 or a museum membership. While you’re there, check out the great exhibits too. For more information, click here.

Also, the legendary doc, Underground Orillia, is being shown on Rogers TV and online at Rogers throughout the summer. For links and more information, go to the UGO Facebook page. You won’t want to miss this sneaky look at the hidden places underground in Orillia.

Duck Soup Productions, a theatre company for youth here in town, is putting the musical, Annie, on at the Orillia Opera House throughout the summer. Shows are every Tuesday at 7 p.m. and tickets are a reasonable $20 plus applicable fees. This is always a great show to take the family to, so come check it out and support this local young people’s theatre company. For tickets, go here.

Also a note, the production of Women Fully Clothed at the Orillia Opera House this Saturday has been cancelled. Contact the OOH about refunds at 705-326-8011.

July 24, don’t miss Music at the Bandstand, at the old bandstand at Couchiching Beach Park, starting at 6:30 p.m. This week, the featured bands are the Tradesmen and Straits.

Right after the music ends, at dusk, head on over to the Aquatheatre in the park for Movies in the Park, featuring the classic, Spaceballs. These are both free events, sponsored by and organized by the City of Orillia. Great to see our outdoor spaces being used so well!

Lots of music at lots of bars and other places, starting with the Brownstone Café, Thursday night Mattie Leon, Friday night Tech Night with DJ Subverse, Saturday night Kevin California, Monday night Kimberly Sunstrum, and July 25 it’s Pride Night at the Brownstone! At the Hog ‘n’ Penny, Friday Jakob Pearce. At Boston Pizza Thursday night, it’s a patio party with live music by Rob Watts, starting at 7 p.m. And at the casino, Friday George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Saturday Rob Thomas.

Have a great week and weekend, and remember to send me your arts and entertainment news, to