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There's lots to do on the first long weekend of the summer!

If you are looking to be entertained or an opportunity to enjoy local artisans, our arts and entertainment columnist has you covered
Liz Anderson credit Malorie Wilkie
Liz Anderson will be a guest performer at Orillia Concert Band’s Hometown Proud concert May 25 at St. Paul’s Centre. Malorie Wilkie photo

And just like that, we have arrived at the May long weekend! What a long, cold, cloudy time it has been. Thank goodness we have many indoor events in O-Town, both in the past and in the future, to keep us busy and happy, I hope.

First things first, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., nip out and hear a great concert, Friends in Music, featuring the Orillia Silver Band, Brassworks, and the Orillia Salvation Army Band.

All proceeds from the show will go to support Salvation Army missions in Mozambique and Malawi. The funding is necessary to keep the infrastructure in place so that communities can focus on specific needs and concerns, such as education, health, clean water, income generation or human-trafficking issues. The show is at the Salvation Army Church on Coldwater Road and admission is by freewill donation.

This May long weekend, don’t forget about the two art openings in the Peter Street Arts District: Wes Trinier’s show opening at Lee Contemporary Art, and Black and White at Tango Artspace, both located upstairs at 5 Peter St. S. Openings are on Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m.

While you are in our wonderful arts district, please check out the other galleries nearby, and head into the Orillia Museum of Art and History to see the great exhibits there too. Oh, and buy the new OMAH coffee, Packet and Grinds; it’s great, I am having some right now.

Also on the long weekend, Cottage Country ComicCon on Sunday, this year at the Best Western Mariposa, starting at 9:30 a.m. Lots of great visitors and comic stuff to look at ... a perfect place to come in out of the rain.

The Orillia Fine Arts Association (OFFA) is helping Mariposa House Hospice out by mounting an art exhibit, called The Postcard Project. OFAA is issuing a call for postcard-size art right now, until May 24.

The art will be on display, and up for sale, at Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio, at 23 Peter St. S. Opening reception is Saturday, June 1 from 1 to 3 p.m., and work will be on display and for sale all month long. All sales are to benefit Mariposa House Hospice. For more information and submission guidelines, click here.

Next weekend, May 25 and 26, a pair of great concerts by Orillia Performing Arts Forum members Orillia Vocal Ensemble and Orillia Concert Band, as well as the opening of Educating Rita, by OPAF member Mariposa Arts Theatre.

The Orillia Concert Band presents Hometown Proud on May 25 at 7:30 p.m., featuring Liz Anderson and a host of great band tunes. The show is at St. Paul’s Centre at 62 Peter St. N. and tickets are available at the door.

Also at St. Paul’s Centre, Sunday May 26 at 3 p.m., Orillia Vocal Ensemble presents Orillia’s Got Talent, featuring a host of talented Orillia folks as well as great choir tunes. This concert is a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio, and all proceeds will go to that cause. Admission is by freewill donation.

Educating Rita opens Thursday, May 23 with shows Thursday to Sunday, that weekend and the next. A change for MAT regulars, Rita will be performed at the MAT warehouse space at 12 Bramner Dr.

MAT director Stacey Schat was inspired by Educating Rita's story of mentorship and brought that idea to the production of the play. In this production, more than 10 women are being mentored in roles new to them, by MAT regulars. Admission to the play also includes a tasty tart treat, and tickets can be picked up here.

May 25 is also the date of the third annual 80’s Bash at the Geneva Event Centre, with a DJ and lots more. If you really miss the 80’s, a $10 ticket will make your night. Check it all out here. This event usually sells out, so don’t delay.

Looking into June, it’s Stephen Leacock month in Orillia. We are celebrating Leacock’s 150th birthday in June and there are lots of events to mark the occasion and fete the man who put Mariposa and Orillia on the literary map.

The Leacock Historical Museum is doing several amazing workshops to celebrate the event, and then of course, the Leacock literary festival and medal for humour is happening as well.

Three workshops are being offered to the public, at $25 a pop, or $60 for all three. June 1, Reading for Writers will help writers to read their books to their audience without fear. June 8, Selling Your Book in a Social Media-Driven Market, will help writers take their book sales to the next level, and June 22 will be all about podcasts. For more information or to register, call 705-329-1908 or email

The Annual Leacock Gala, during which the Leacock Medal for Humour will be awarded, is on Saturday June 8 at 5 p.m. at the Best Western Mariposa Inn. Tickets are $75 and can be reserved by phone 705-329-1908 or email

If you would like to meet the authors at a more casual event, consider going out to the “Meet the Authors” evening on Friday, June 7, 2019 at 7 p.m., also at the Mariposa Inn. The cost is $20 and includes appetizers and you can email or call Jen to reserve your space for this event as well.

Is there music at the bars this weekend? Of course there is. May 18, the Rifle and the Writer play the Brownstone café, while May 17 Leanne Hoffman and Kim Harris will entertain you there. Jakob Pearce is at the Hog ‘n’ Penny May 17, while May 18 Olivia Duck plays there.

May 17 Wayne Brady is playing Casino Rama and May 18 Natalie McMaster and Donnell Leahy are there. And May 18 Wendy Whalen Plays Fioon McCool’s.

Enjoy your long May weekend, soggy or otherwise, and keep your arts news coming to me, by Tuesday at noon,