4 Artisan sales you need to visit this weekend

Tis the season for  artisan sales.  Take some time this weekend to explore four shows featuring artisans from Oxford County and the region.


Woodstock Art Gallery 50/50 Exhibition and Sale, Nov 27

The annual Woodstock Art Gallery 50/50 Exhibition and Sale offers a selection of art in various mediums including glass, ceramics, painting and printmaking.  All proceeds are split evenly between The Woodstock Art Gallery’s programming and its artists.  You will also enjoy local cheeses that will be served at this exhibition, as the Woodstock Art Gallery is part of the Oxford County Cheese Trail. Event details….  There is more going on Downtown Woodstock that evening as part of Festive Friday.


Deck the Halls (Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre), Nov 27-28

Every year members of the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre come together for their annual art sale. Being an arts cooperative home to potters, painters, quilters and fibre artists this show offers a wide variety of artisan goods.  Get that special someone on your list a truly one of a kind piece of art for their home. Event details…

If you come in the evening make a night of it and walk through the winter lights to Santa’s Village at the Ingersoll Cheese Museum.  If you miss Deck the Halls you can still shop the Arts Centre’s Mini Sale .


Rombouts Pottery  & Floral Arrangements, Nov 27-28

Owner Ienke Rombouts is known for her unique flower arrangements, pottery and decor.  While open by appointment year round she holds a spring (May) and Christmas (November) open house inviting other artisans and small businesses.   This is a great chance to see beautiful floral designs and pick up some great pieces for friends and family. Event details…


Down Home Christmas Craft Show, Nov 28-29

The Tillsonburg Down Home Christmas Craft Show is a great event for holiday shopping and unique finds.  From beautiful wood works to handcrafted jewellery and fresh herbs, you won’t be disappointed in the vast selection at this juried craft show.  Meander through booth after booth of craft items and treasure hunt for that truly special holiday gift. Event details…



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From Feed To Farm To Table

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Every day Parion Animal Nutrition delivers quality feed to farms in Oxford County and the surrounding area. These farms then send their products market. Parion owners Peter Vanboekel, T. J McDougall and Burt Wilkins saw an opportunity to celebrate these … Continue reading

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It is beginning to look at lot like Christmasfest!

If you are looking for a town in the Christmas Spirit head south – not north. For over 20 years Tillsonburg has hosted an annual Christmas Festival providing six weeks of festivities.  Here are a just a few highlights for 2015.  For a full list of events visit their website www.christmasfest.ca



Annandale National Historic Site is decorated for the season. Wander through this historic home to get into the Christmas Spirit. Enjoy their special museum Exhibit celebrating over 100 years of christmas lights.  See lights from decades gone by and the latest innovations.

Make a day of it and take the annual Tour of Homes.  Enjoy wonderful holiday decor and themes highlighting architectural features of the host homes. This tour includes admission to Annandale National Historic Site and the Station Arts Centre Tea Room.  Read more



Looking for live entertainment to help put you in the Christmas spirit?   Enjoy the beautiful sounds of the Alleluia Bell Choir performing time honoured Christmas music, Celtic Harpist Jennifer White, a holiday reading of “Young Copperfield” – with Stephen Bourne appearing as Charles Dickens or the iconic Senior Centre Singers. Read more

Down Home Christmas Craft Show


The Down Home Christmas Craft Show is Tillsonburg’s original holiday tradition. Featuring many vendors, this juried show is celebrating its 31st. anniversary in 2015.  Find handcrafted jewelry, ornaments, pottery, clothing and more.  Wrap up a one-of-a-kind gift for everyone on your list.

Community Celebrations

Join the community to celebrate.  Attend a turkey supper, winter lights, bazzars, the Santa Claus Parade, BIA events, breakfast with Santa and much more. Visit the Christmasfest website and get into the holiday season in Tillsonburg.

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A Heritage of Quality at Bright Cheese & Butter

Bright Cheese and Butter is working hard to ensure the proud tradition of great Ontario cheese and dairy continues. As one of the only heritage cheese-makers left in Ontario, Bright Cheese and Butter have been around since 1874. While a 140 year old company they are progressive and always looking forward.

General manager Stefan Cartmale feels “the community is the essential part our success. Most of our employees reside in or around Bright. Our cheesemaker Spenser Haskett grew up on the neighbouring farm.  Community support has always been there 100% and together we are raising awareness of the heritage, tradition and high quality of Ontario cheese and dairy.”

With the full support of their Board of Directors investment in infrastructure, equipment and product development saw significant changes over the past two years to build a vision for the future and increase brand visibility.

“Changes to our processes, including food safety, redeveloping cultures through research & development allows us to offer a better quality cheese,” said Cartmale. “We provide quality Blue Cow Milk Products that are all natural from local farmer’s dairy and we do not use modified milk products.”

Manager Stefan Cartmale standing in factory at Bright Cheese and Butter

Bright Cheese & Butter’s Asiago and Aged Cheddar both became finalists at the Great Canadian Cheese Grand Prix 2015. They also worked with ADW/Acostca to provide local Costco with Bright Brand Havarti. The dedication to quality, food safety and tradition has recently garnered the company a Premier’s Award.

Integral to the ongoing achievement of Bright Cheese & Butter are partnerships established with local small dairies to develop and promote new cultures made by heritage cheesemakers. Their partnership with Monforte Dairy in Stratford has produced a Providence cheese which is like a mountain cheese from Switzerland.

Bright Cheese & Butter and Monforte are also working with St Brigid Dairy in Burgessville to launch an organic cheddar in May 2016. Organic cheddar is a rare find in Ontario and Cartmale suggests pre-ordering.

Recently Bright Cheese and butter has paired up with local artist Cathy Groulx to develop a new logo to refresh their branding while recognizing their heritage.  Cathy visited an area farm to find the right bovine model. Having local farms represented in the brand was important as it reflects the premium product made with local milk.

Check out their new products, award winning cheeses and new packaging. Visit Bright Cheese & Butter at their original location at  816503 County Rd 22, Bright ON. Plan a trip to Bright on the Oxford County Cheese Trail and taste cheese made at its finest with old fashioned customer service at its best!

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Home of the Big Ass Panzerotti Celebrates Cheese

Louie’s Pizza and Pasta is known for their hearty portions and laid back fun roadhouse atmosphere.  The place is always full of locals and regulars that make the trip from out of town.

You get the feeling that the staff and customers are one big family.  From the recent “Get well Norm” message on their sign,  to menu items created and named for staff. Most recently this included a Walking Dead inspired menu (a show loved by many on their team) – Darryl’s ears sounded particularly tasty.

louiesdiningroomOwner Cindy Skater and her father Louie built this business from a take-out pizza company into the booming restaurant it is today.  If you love a thick crust pizza with a sweeter homemade sauce and oodles of cheese – put this restaurant on your bucket list.  Their iconic menu item is their “Big Ass Panzerotti” and Panzerotti challenge (think of the Ole’96er on the Great Outdoors).  I expect when they made this menu item they were inspired by Ingersoll Cheese history as the home of the Mammoth Cheese.

A large fully loaded panzerotti can weigh 8lbs

Therefore it is quite fitting that they are a new stop on the Oxford County Cheese Trail.  Their Cheese Trail menu includes great items to share with friends including Gunn’s Hill with Charcuterie, Coney Island Curds (beer bathed deep fried curds with chili), Steak “Queso”-dillia, and the pizza of the month (featuring local cheeses). You will want to stay and order a main course – view the full Cheese Trail Menu.

Executive Chef Mike Gibbons getting creative in the KitchenMike whipping up a dish of Coney Island Curds

The trail is a great fit for executive Chef Michael Gibson who loves cooking tex-mex. He has plenty of options using La Vaquita cheeses made in Ingersoll by Local Dairy Products (including their award winning Oaxaca).  The menu also has items featuring Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese and Bright Cheese and Butter.  Also check out the daily and weekend chef specials, which often feature local cheeses, ingredients from their garden and local produce.

One of the many local cheese inspired specials

Louie’s Pizza and Pasta is located at 440 Bell St in Ingersoll Ontario and is open 7 days a week, including most holidays.  Make plans to try their new Cheese trail menu for a meal out, or make a day of it visiting the next stop on the Oxford County Cheese Trail.

Oxford County Cheese Trail Logo

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Savoury Scones on the Trail

Jo at the Cup and Cake Counter Holding a Bowl of Scones

A new savoury cheese scone is being featured on the Oxford County Cheese Trail.

This creation has come to fruition as the result of cooperation between two local businesses: Joanne Brooks, owner of Tillsonburg’s The Cup and Cake and Ellis & Hazel Morris, Sheep Farmers & Owners of Quality Sheep Milk in Salford.

The Cup and Cake is worth the visit alone for the bright friendly decor and the fact that they serve tea in traditional china teacups.  What will make you stay is their variety of delicious sweets, scratch soups and hearty sandwiches.  Joanna’s English roots can be found on the menu from the Princess Margaret Cupcakes, Hummingbird Cake and of course scones.

The Cup and Cake likes shopping local and looked to Quality Sheep Milk for ingredients.  Quality Sheep Milk is known for 100% sheep milk cheeses including cheddar, percorino and feta.  One of Quality Sheep Milk’s more unique cheeses is their smoked feta which has been popular for adding to pasta salads, bruschetta and now scones.

Stop by The Cup and Cake to try new a smoked feta and apple scone – you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to snap a picture of your order and share it with #TryTheTrail on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

For more information and other stops on the trail visit www.oxfordcountycheesetrail.ca

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Apple Pie Without the Cheese….

“Apple pie without the cheese is like the kiss without the squeeze” states the obvious.  Apple pie and cheese are a perfect match, and Leaping Deer Adventure Farm and Market has elevated this flavour combination to a whole new level.

What do you do when you have extra apple pie?  If you are Julie Budd, owner of Leaping Deer Adventure Farm & Market, you make apple pie bread of course.  As soon as these savoury loaves were placed on the shelves they were a hit with regulars at the bakery.  Naturally Julie didn’t stop the creative process here but started thinking of new ways to use the bread.

apple pie bread grilled cheese

Leaping Deer’s mouth watering apple pie bread grilled cheese, made with local apples and cheddar from Bright Cheese.

When I met with Julie, she talked about all the ways customers use the bread – including French Toast.   The item she put on her cafe menu though that keeps people coming back is her Apple Pie Bread Grilled Cheese.   Made with two slices of their apple pie bread and cheddar from Bright Cheese.  It is so delicious, you will likely purchase a loaf of bread and brick of cheese, in their shop, to make it again at home.

Naturally this sandwich was a perfect fit for the new Oxford County Cheese Trail.  The trail guide will be available soon – but why wait.  Head out to Leaping Deer Adventure Farm and Market for their fall season.  Shop the bakery, dine in the green room cafe and maybe take a stroll through the 10 acre corn maze.

Make sure you take a picture with one of the many scare crows adorning their porch.  Some are just plain cheesy!  Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TryTheTrail to be entered in  our cheesy contest.

Scarecrow sitting on a cheesebox wearing a cheese hat

It is Oxford County, so naturally Julie Budd had an old cheese box in the basement for this scarecrow to sit on.

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Coming soon: more cheese, exciting flavours & new experiences

More cheese, exciting flavours, new experiences – the slogan for the re-vamped version of the Oxford County Cheese Trail says it all. The new and improved Trail, which will launch later this month, delves even further into Oxford County’s rich dairy heritage and provides visitors with expanded opportunities to explore and savour its flavours.

To give the Trail a fresh feeling, we decided it was time to give its logo a facelift. In our search for something new, we looked to the past for inspiration. And where better to do so than the Ingersoll Cheese and Agriculture Museum? This Oxford County institution and Cheese Trail favourite has been preserving the history of cheesemaking in the area since 1977. During a recent visit, curator Scott Gillies graciously allowed us access to the museum’s storerooms, which harbour invaluable artifacts that illustrate Oxford’s cheesemaking heritage.

Ingersoll Cheese Museum, Ingersoll, Oxford County Ontario

Among them was a tiny dress, covered from skirt to collar with an array of colourful ribbons. The ribbons were awarded to Tom Aicken, a champion cheesemaker from Oxford County. Between 1947 and 1955, Aicken won a total of 54 ribbons, which his wife proudly sewed onto a dress for their two-year old daughter. The dress is a testament to Oxford County’s ability to produce award-winning, artisan cheeses – then and now.

Girl wearing dress covered in cheese award ribbons with trophies

dress covered in cheese award ribbonsAs we continued our search through the storerooms, we came across a set of stamps used for local cheese products. In the past, these stamps were used by local cheesemakers as a way to brand their products and assure customers that their cheese was hand-crafted with care. The symbolism of the cheese stamps struck a chord – like the cheesemakers of the past (and present), we have taken pains to create a Trail that will satisfy and delight. And just as cheesemakers choose only the best ingredients for their product, we have scoured the County for the best artisans and vendors in the hopes of crafting an unforgettable experience for those who try the Trail.

Ingersoll Melted Cheese

With minds full of metaphor, we selected the Tom Thumb New Cheddars stamp from the Ingersoll Cream Cheese Company collection at the Museum as our model. The product stamp from this former company – like our cheddar cheesemaking heritage  – is old, but the revised Oxford County Cheese Trail is ‘new’ and while we may be small, we are big on service and experiences.

Tom Thumb Cheese Stamp, Ingersoll Cheese Museum

The final product is a visual representation of what we want the updated Trail to be – a reflection of Oxford’s past and a symbol of its future as Canada’s top dairy destination.  Keep an eye out for the logo on our new brochure, which will be released in the Fall of 2015. To be notified when the new trail is launched sign-up for our newsletter.

Oxford County Cheese Trail Logo

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Why you should take a fall colour tour in Southern Ontario

Gravel Fall Road

Photo by Damian Dudek

Many people think of heading north for fall colours to view hill after hill of vibrant leaves.  More people though are discovering what makes a fall colour tour in Southern Ontario so special.

Leaf Colour Diversity

Oxford County is located in the Carolinian Life Zone.  This life zone is home to many species of deciduous trees that do not grow in colder climates. Therefore you will see a diversity of leaf colours, you may not see elsewhere.

Substation Rd, Oxford County Ontario

Photo by Ted Douglas, on Substation Road, during a fall colour tour of Oxford County

Agricultural Landscape

The landscape is more than just forest.  Therefore you get beautiful contrasts of cash crops drying in the field and livestock grazing in a pasture. Old weathered barns and newer farm structures give bursts of blue, red, green and steel. You can also travel through the Amish countryside with its quaint farms with cows, goats and even turkeys out in the pasture. Oxford County’s countryside is perfect for a weekend drive any time of year.

Amish farm

A beautiful summer sight (Late July/ Early August) in Amish Country are “Haystooks” that weave the harvest together protecting the grain in the middle of the pile.

Natural Landscape

With a varied landscape of  rolling hills, panoramic stretches and windy roads there is a diverse view around every corner.  Waterfront views in Oxford County can be found on Pittock Resevoir, Wildwood Resevoir, Lakeside, Lake Lisgar and Otterville Dam.

Otterville Dam

Photo by Ted Douglas, Otterville Dam

Celebrate the Harvest

Take a moment visit a roadside stand or market.  Markets are full of vibrant colours of crops fresh from the fields.  Wander and relax. You may just decide to take home a few items.  Visit www.OxfordFresh.com for a list of area farm markets, cheese producers and syrups. Oxford County offers plenty of stops during your country drive.


Pumpkins at Turner’s Farm Market

Fuel Up

Hit some of the spots popular with the locals on the back roads and in communities along your way. Choose from four farm attractions for corn mazes, farm education and family fun.  If you want to fuel up visit the Skyway Cafe for all day breakfast as you watch the planes take off.  Dine with the locals on hearty home cooking at Quehl’s Restaurant. There are plenty of choices.  Fall typically colours hit their peak around Thanksgiving.  Visit the Tourism Oxford website to plan your fall colour get away.

family photo in cutout

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Spend the Day in Tillsonburg

There was a time when Tillsonburg was synonymous with tobacco but gone are the days when  you expected to find field after field of tobacco crops and people with funny titles like primers and fluffers.  Today, Tillsonburg has adapted into a culturally significant town that’s still in touch with its rural roots.  Read on for attractive stops to make the most of your day in Tillsonburg.

The Tillsonburg Airport: Skyway Cafe and Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association

Make sure your day takes off right with a hearty breakfast and awesome view at the Skyway Cafe.  Sit inside or outside, no matter the choice, you will have prime seating as small and large air crafts take off and land on the municipal runway.

After breakfast, why not pop into the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association on site and see their collection of seven Harvards, a Tiger Moth and a Yale airplane.  Learn about how they maintain this flying museum. If you’d like to take it one step further for a bird’s eye view of the town, book a flight experience by emailing tours@harvards.com.  For hours see their website.

Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre

The Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre is a remarkable gem in the town with a gorgeous showcase of local art.  The facility is a converted CN railway station that’s architecture is as beautiful as the works within.  Shop the gift shop, take a peek in the Members’ Gallery and see the exquisite pieces in the rotating Main Gallery.  If you’re looking for educational fun, the Station Arts Centre also offers a variety of classes, workshops and events.

Annandale National Historic Site

Step inside the beautiful and ornate 1880s home of E.D. Tillson, the town’s first mayor.  In a time when most people lived in log cabins, E.D. and his wife Mary Anne lived in a lavish three-floor home with running water and electricity.  This home is Canada’s foremost example of the Aesthetic Arts Movement – meaning the home is full of adornment and colour. Come for a tour and see what it was like for the town’s wealthiest family at the time.  Learn about E.D.’s world renowned model farm that featured Ontario’s first silo and enjoy a picnic lunch on the beautiful grounds of Annandale NHS.

Lake Lisgar Water Park


There’s no better place to spend a hot summer day than at the Lake Lisgar Waterpark.  With sparkling, cool water, giant inflatables, sprays, individual tubes and the creme de la creme – a giant twister water slide, boredom is not an option.  If you’re ready to take a break from the water, hit the grass to work on your tan or the picnic tables to enjoy the shade and an ice cream treat from the snack bar. Just outside the pool area, a new pirate-themed playground awaits you.  Make a splash with your kids this summer!

Indigo Lounge

IndigoLoungeOne part healing arts, one part organic cafe, The Indigo Lounge is a holistic center for yoga, Zumba, life coaching and more.  It also boasts an excellent eatery with filling, healthy meals.  Grab a zucchini pad thai or a smoothie on the go.  The Indigo Lounge is the perfect stop any time of day.  For a full list of classes please visit their website.

Carrol Trail and the Bridges

slide2 If you can’t get enough of the outdoors, the Carrol Trail and Bridges Golf Club/Restaurant is the place for you!  Go for a walk or run along 5km of trail that winds through Coronation Park and the Bridges Golf Club.  See scenic ponds, woods and rolling hills.

If that’s not long enough, not to worry.  Tillsonburg has an extensive walking trail system through out the town that links up with the Trans Canada Trail System.  You can walk or bike over 15km of trails with a look at this map.

If you’d rather spend your day driving golf balls, sign up to play at the bridges and don’t forget to stop in for lunch in the clubhouse for some great pub style eats. A gorgeous afternoon with friends and great food awaits you.

Mill Tales Inn


With so much to do in Tillsonburg you will want to stay the night.  With a stay at the Mill Tales Inn, you can enjoy home cooked meals in one of E.D. Tillson’s original pea and barley mills. Dating back to 1878, you’ll enjoy the quaint and rustic water view rooms.  Don’t forget to try the famous fish and chips!

Accommodation is also available at the Howard Johnson.

So head on down to Tillsonburg for all these amazing attractions!

By: Gabrielle Bossy

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