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COLUMN: Return of live Kiwanis Music Festival 'fantastic'

This weekend marks the launch of inaugural Shivers and Sizzle Family Festival on a busy calendar of local concerts, events and happenings
A school group participates in the singing competition as part of this year's Kiwanis Music Festival.

Hi folks, we are almost in April and the events just keep on coming.

As I mentioned last week, the Orillia Kiwanis Music Festival is back to an in-person format for the first time since spring 2019. I spoke to Amanda Stanton, the festival's artistic director, about the change and how it’s going.

“It feels fantastic to be back  — live, and in-person,” said Stanton. “Admittedly, the committee was a little nervous about getting everything up and running. We haven't set up an in-person festival since 2019. However, once we got rolling on the first morning, things have been moving along smoothly and we all feel great.”

Stanton continued, “Feedback from parents, teachers, and students have been wonderful so far. Everyone is happy to have this opportunity to perform again, and our top-notch adjudicators have been providing helpful and constructive critique.”

Stanton mentioned that piano classes are continuing all this week and instrumental and strings classes are next week to finish off the festival. The traditional wrap-up concert, Stars of the Festival, will be May 1 at 7:30 p.m.

All classes are held at St. Paul’s Centre and are free for the public to enjoy. She said that volunteers to help set up or greet audience members are needed, as well. For more information and the schedule, check out the website. And Vive La Musica!

This weekend, the Shivers and Sizzles Family Festival is happening at selected venues in downtown Orillia. Presented by the Orillia and District Arts Council (ODAC) with partners Arts Orillia, City of Orillia, and the Couchiching Craft Brewery, the festival is meant to drum up some business and interest downtown during a usually quiet time of year.

There are lots of free family events during the weekend, including Ice Carving by Festive Ice Saturday (April 1) from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Lone Wolf Café courtyard. During this time there will also be bubble machines, treats for kids, and giveaways while supplies last. 

On Sunday, at noon there is interactive steel pan drumming, followed by making a drum at 1:30 p.m.; these activities are family-oriented and free. There will also be a diverse handprints activity. These all take place at Creative Nomad Studios. 

The sizzle in the festival is coming from an incredible reggae show at Couchiching Craft Brewery on Saturday night. For $20, audience members will be wowed by the music of Quammie Williams, Juno-award winner Liberty Silver and the M2 Studio Band, and Errol Lee and Merlene Webber. 

This will be an awesome night of great music and a real sizzle in the festival. Reserve a table today by calling 705-558-2337. Food and drinks will be available to purchase as well. 

Kudos to ODAC for its blue-sky dreaming of a fun festival to liven Orillians up while we wait for spring.

Lots more happening soon, so let’s dive into it.

This Thursday night from 5 to 7 p.m. the Orillia Museum of Art and History has another fun music and mocktails event. This one is featuring some great local student musicians, so check it out and, of course, all the great exhibits at the museum as well.

This Thursday My Son the Hurricane, 'The multi-horn, multi-drummer, multi-singer brass funk beast' is coming to St. Paul’s Centre. There are a very few tickets left for this great event, so grab yours today here.

Also Thursday, Jakob Pearce and Dave Hewitt are live at Couchiching Craft Brewery, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Come and enjoy. 

This Friday night, hop on over to St. Paul’s Centre for another fun pub night, this one featuring Jake Hammond. This is a great deal at a $10 cover charge, with pub food and a cash bar. A fun event to hang out with friends and support this first-class performing arts centre. The evening runs from 6 to 9 p.m.

Also this Friday, also at St. Paul’s Centre, the Lakehead University Student Union presents TDOV Drag Bingo with Crystal Quartz. The fun gets underway at 7 p.m., and there will be lots of hilarity, prizes, food and dry drinks. Cost is $5 admission unless you are a Lakehead student, then you get in for free. Please RSVP here.

The Maple Leaf Club Spring Fling, featuring The Orillia Big Band at St. James’ Auditorium is on April 1, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $20, including lunch. There is a cash bar, door prizes, and lots of dancing promised. Tickets are available from Randy Hoover at 705-345-3353 or the St. James’ church office at 705-325-2742.

Sunday nights from 6 to 9 p.m., Sunken Ship, formerly Tammie’s Place, is hosting a Sunday Night Jam session. Come and get involved.

Heads up! Next Thursday is Tartan Day and the Orillia Scottish Festival and Quayle’s Brewery is having a fun night of music and tartan from 5 p.m. on, at the brewery. Great music by Sean Patrick and friends, as well as food, drinks, 50/50 draws and more. Come out, have fun and support the festival.

Under "coming soon so pay attention": Mariposa Folk Festival’s Showcase of emerging artists is Sunday, April 30 from 1 to 6 p.m. at, you guessed it, St. Paul’s Centre. This free event is a chance to hear 10 up-and-coming bands play well enough to get into the festival. Admission is free, so come and help discover the next best thing.

Inside the Music presents Hawksley Workman, at St. Paul’s Centre, April 27. Another great concert and musician by these great producers. Get your tickets now, here. I plan to.

Finally, The Cellar Singers are Puttin’ on the Ritz at the annual gala event, first one since the pandemic. The show is at St. James’ Anglican Church, in the Stubley auditorium, and the theme is '20s and '30s art deco. The hall, the people, the music will be all geared to this fun theme, so put on your glam and come on out.

Tickets are $40 and include a Charleston dance lesson, music and entertainment, entrance to the silent auction, and food too. Grab your ticket here. The show is April 15 at 7 p.m.

Great week to wrap up March, and wonderful events coming in April. Come out and support all these producers, performers, artists and more. If you have arts news, send it to [email protected] by Tuesday at noon to be included. 


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