Autumn in Oxford County: Sticky, scary and just plain fun

This fall, Oxford County is prepared to scare, entertain and fill your tummy! If you don’t believe us, check out these great farm attractions in the area.  From fresh maple syrup on tap to the best county corn mazes, Oxford County has cornered the market on fresh farm goodness.

Oxford Honey

Oxford Honey is all the rage in the county for its fresh, sticky honey on tap all year round.  The apiary, set in the countryside of Burgessville, has an abundance of bee products including unpasteurized honey, creamy liquid honey, beeswax candles, cosmetics and more.  Seasonally, Oxford County farmer John hosts demonstrations that will have your head buzzing with  excitement as you watch a beehive demo from within a screened viewing area.

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Oxford County Cheese Trail

Oxford County goes hand in hand with a rich cheese heritage.  At its peak, it was home to 98 cheese factories including Ingersoll’s historic James Harris Cheese Factory that created the Mammoth Cheese of Oxford, a 7300 pound block of cheese.  Today, four excellent Oxford County cheesemakers carry on the tradition with their extravagant selection of artisan, handmade cheeses.  Beyond cheesemakers, the newly revamped trail also boasts museums featuring agricultural history, dining experiences with local cheese/dairy ingredients and unique shops with agricultural roots. Follow the trail or map your own schedule.  Autumn is a beautiful time of year to explore and understand why Oxford County is the dairy capital of Canada.

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Maple Syrup: Jakeman’s Maple Products and McCully’s Hill Farm

Canadians take (or should we say intake) their maple syrup very seriously. With hundreds of brands to pick from, Oxford County maple syrup has really come out on top. With Jakeman’s Maple Products and McCully’s Hill Farm within reach, maple syrup has never tasted so good.

Jakeman’s Maple Products

The Jakeman tradition of maple syrup has been a longstanding one reaching back to the creation of the farm in 1876. Five generations later, Jakeman’s maple syrup has received numerous awards, been featured on the Amazing Race Canada and has been named the “best maple syrup in Canada” by a blind taste test in the National Post. Located in Burgessville, Ontario, Jakeman’s is open year round and specializes in the production of syrup as well as gourmet maple products including popcorn, coffee and of course, the coveted maple creme cookie.  Stop by and visit the retail store located in the old Sweaburg general store and post office.

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McCully’s Hill Farm

McCully’s Hill Farm also has a historical past as it was started up in 1847 by Elizabeth and Norman McCully. Although the land was originally cleared for maple sugar and a few other crops, the McCully tradition has reached into all sorts of farming endeavors since then including Holstein cattle, Tamworth pigs, forest conservation and more. Currently, the farm specializes in excellent maple syrup products as well as baking, meats and agricultural education.  In addition to an excellent Maple Syrup Festival in the spring, McCully’s Hill Farm also offers excellent fall programming with their Farm Fresh Harvest Festival. Open throughout the month of October, children can enjoy face painting, pumpkin catapult, pedal tractor pulls and an excellent corn maze.

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Adventure Farms: Snyder’s Family Farm, Leaping Deer Adventure Farm and the Norwich Optimist Corn Maze

 Snyder’s Family Farm

Snyder’s Family Farm opens the second week in September each year and capitalizes on  fall fun. Families can choose from numerous fall activities including a visit to the onsite petting zoo, a five acre corn maze and a 2500 sq. ft. haunted house that will knock your socks off. Visitors can also indulge in a wide variety of old fashioned treats including homemade apple fritters, fudge, fresh popcorn and even pumpkin pie. It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss.

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Leaping Deer Adventure Farm

Leaping Deer Adventure Farm provides more than enough excitement to ensure your autumn is a great success. The corn maze alone spans over ten acres and is unique as the farmers have planted more than just corn within! Have fun seeing what else you can find. Beyond the maze, families can enjoy the crisp autumn air while checking out the animal barn, taking a stroll through a nature trail, watching duck races and much, much more!

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Norwich Optimist Corn Maze

Each September and October, the Norwich Optimist Corn Maze spans a ten acre farm property where adults and kids alike can spend the day getting lost, having fun and enjoying the bounty of autumn in Oxford County. Open every weekend from September 12th to October 25th, there is lots of time to enjoy the club’s petting zoo, play on the pirate ship and try your hand at pumpkin bowling. In late October, come out for trick-or-treat days and a haunted version of the corn maze…if you dare.

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This autumn, Oxford County has lots to offer from tasty treats and farm tours to haunts and corn mazes. Just look around the corner and don’t get lost!

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E.D. Tillson’s Annandale Model Farm – Guest Blogger Patricia Phelps, Curator Annandale NHS

4.2.7Annandale House was built as the “farm house” for E.D. Tillson’s 600 acre model farm.  Impressive enough in its own right, the house was only one of several amazing structures that made up Annandale Farm. The operation was primarily a dairy farm with E.D. owning a registered herd of Holstein cattle (approx. 56 head). The farm consisted of a large brick barn, a diary, a piggery, two stocked trout ponds and several other smaller buildings.  It was mapped and laid-out with streets being created and named.   Farm lane winter cowsE.D. planted 250 maple trees down his “Maple Lane” – a street that still bares that name today, although unfortunately most of the trees are gone.

The pictures seen here were taken in the 1890’s by Tillsonburg photographer James Pollard.  Of particular interest is the large brick barn, which at the time of its construction, was said to be the largest brick barn in the Province of Ontario. The barn was 60 x 125 ft with an “ell” extension that measured 46 x 48 ft. It was three storeys high.  It included 5 interior pit style silos that could house 900 tones of ensilage. 4.2.7The 80 cow stalls and 20 calf stalls had running water and were constructed with tongue and grove paneling. So impressive was the barn and farm operation that over 200 articles were written about it in Farming Magazines of the day and interested farmers travelled from all over Canada and the U.S. to come and see the operation.

Sadly, like so much of our built heritage, the barn Farm lane central n to s trout on Lwas demolished for a sub-division in the 1954—at that time the London Free Press still reported it as the largest brick barn in the province.

Contact Information

Patricia Phelps, Curator, Annandale NHS

30 Tillson Ave, Tillsonburg, ON N4G 2Z8

(519) 842-2294       www.tillsonburg.ca

Posted By:  Debbie Solta, Cultural Events Coordinator

Tourism Oxford

www.tourismoxford.ca

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Sunday Funday: What’s Open in Oxford

Oxford County is a beautiful part of the province to explore on a Sunday drive.  We want you to take full advantage of all the county has to offer so read on for what’s open on Sundays in Oxford County.

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Annandale National Historic Site (1-4 PM)
Tour the historic retirement home of Edwin Delevan Tillson, son of the town founder and a true entrepreneur.  Learn about E.D.’s model farm and oatmeal empire all from the comfort of a gorgeous 1880s Aesthetic Art Movement home that would make Oscar Wilde jealous.

Beachville District Museum (1-4:30 PM)
Beachville District Museum sits on a grassy, picturesque parkland and tells the history of Beachville, one of Oxford County’s first settlements (1791).  Come learn all the incredible firsts of Beachville including North America’s first ever recorded baseball game.  It’s a home run!

Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre (2-4 PM, excluding holiday weekends)
Welcome to creation town, population you.  If you love trying your hand at any kind of art, you’ll love the The Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre which offers classes and exhibits in quilt making, jewelry, and so much more.  With over 400 members, the vast array of art will astound you. Visit for their latest exhibit and shop in their gift shop stocked with paintings, fibre and pottery made by their members.

SHOPPING

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Coyle’s Country Store (Jan.-Mar.: 11:30 AM-5PM  |  Apr.-Dec.: 11AM-5PM)
As a shopping mecca over one hundred years old, Coyle’s Country Store has country shopping down to an art.  The store specializes in baking supplies and roasted nuts as well as their own preserves but also has a fantastic gift ware section.  It’s nearly impossible to leave empty-handed.

One of a Kind Antique Mall (10AM-5PM)
Boasting the title of Canada’s Largest Antique and Collectibles Market is no small feat.  One of a Kind Antiques Mall is three floors high and hosts over five hundred vendors.  Featuring everything from furniture to hockey collectibles. One of a Kind Antique Mall is a great place to spend a Sunday morning, or the entire day.

Picard’s Peanuts (11AM-5PM)
For everything peanut: roasted, salted, chocolate, chip nut, cookie nut and more visit Picard’s Peanuts.  You will also find other chocolate coated confections, retro candy, syrup and ice cream on site.

Toth’s Fossils & Minerals (10am-6pm)
If you are looking for high quality fossils, minerals, crystals or unique jewelry, Toth’s is the spot for you.  With over forty years of experience under their belt, Toth’s Fossils & Minerals hand-select the pieces they bring into their store. The quality and selection will astound you.

MARKETS & FARMS

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Your Farm Market (Jun.-Oct.: 8am-6pm)
Fresh, local produce is just around the corner with YFM.  Starting in 1997 with a sweet corn stand, the McKay’s family business has flourished and evolved into a must-stop location featuring homemade baking and fruits and vegetables that span the length of the alphabet.

Norwich Optimist Corn Maze (Sep.12-Oct.25: 11-6pm)
The Norwich Optimist Corn Maze is more than the name entails.  With haunted evenings, a petting zoo, kids games and even a snack shack, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.  Be sure to bring a camera!

Turners’ Market Farm (May-Dec.: 9am-6pm)
Turners’ Market Farm is a one-stop shop destination for all things edible and plantable.  Please your tummy with fresh pies and yummy ice cream, or keep it local all winter with a Turners’ Christmas tree.

Godelie Farm (Jun.-Oct.: 8am-4pm)
The Godelies have made the switch from a tobacco farm to produce- a switch many in Southern Ontario can relate to.  Although the variety is small, you will be pleased to realize that this is done on purpose!  Godelies sell only what they grow to ensure their customers get the highest quality products. Munch on Oxford.

Snyder’s Family Farm and Fear Farm (Sep. Weekends: 10am-5pm; Oct. Weekends: 10am-7pm; for Sunday Fear Farms click here)
The Snyder family really knows how to capitalize on fall fun!  With a twenty acre pumpkin patch, petting zoo, live theater and so much more, your autumn is bound to take off.  Feeling brave?  Enjoy a haunted hayride or stalk your way through a haunted corn maze in the dark at the Fear Farm.

Leaping Deer Adventure Farm (See website for hours)
People line-up for the gates to open at the beginning of the season for goods baked from scratch. If you’re looking for a combination of awesome outdoor fun and fresh market goods, look no further.  Leaping Deer has local produce, an on-site bakery and cafe as well as an adventure farm with a seasonal corn maze, pig races and games for kids.

McCully’s Hill Farm (10am-5pm)
McCully’s Hill Farm has it all.  They specialize in meats, maple products and fresh baking but also offer a wide selection of agricultural programming. With a farm fresh market, you can head home with a huge array of tasting local treats that will make your mouth water.

Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm (12-4pm)
Want kettle cooked chips but need a refreshing brew?  Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm is the answer to your problems where they make and grow potatoes and hops to produce kettle cooked chips and fresh brew.  Book a tour of their facility or stop in to watch the hops grow and sample their craft beer.   Try their Dakota Pearl Ale which features local potatoes. If you love it, take a six-pack home with you.

SUNDAY BRUNCH

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Ody’s Restaurant (Brunch 11am-2pm)
Ody’s restaurant is famous for its Sunday brunches!  Located inside the Woodstock Quality Hotel and Suites, freshly prepared meals are the specialty.  Come before noon to satisfy your breakfast cravings or come later in the day and enjoy a cool brew out on Woodstock’s largest patio.

Quehl’s Restaurant and Catering (9 AM-7:30PM)
Quehl’s Restaurant and Catering has been around since 1931, so if you’re looking for a truly Oxford meal, look no further.  Made for any hungry guy or gal, the all-you-can eat buffet is a classic for those Sunday mornings that follow a great Saturday night.

The Elm Hurst Inn (Brunch 10:30am-2pm)
Feast like a king at the Elm Hurst Inn Sunday Brunch.  With complimentary champagne and orange juice and just about every breakfast food you can imagine, it’s not wonder why the Elm Hurst Inn Sunday brunch is known across the region.

The Mill Tales Inn (Open 10am-2pm; 4pm-8pm; Brunch 10am-2pm)
Once upon a time, the Mill Tales Inn was a barley mill owned by Edwin Delevan Tillson, son of Tillsonburg’s founder and the town’s first major entrepreneur.  Flash forward and now the mill has been converted into a gorgeous and rustic restaurant with some of the best food in town and a beautiful creek view.

For more dining options click here.

OUTDOOR FUN

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Pittock and Wildwood Conservation Areas
Stroll along the trails at either Pittock or Wildwood Conservation Areas to create the perfect Sunday morning.  Each conservation area offers canoe and kayak rentals, extensive trail systems, fishing (with the Tackle Share program), and of course, space to become one with nature.  Explore the natural surroundings of the counties best hiking spots.  For info on trails go here.

Golfing
Oxford County has more fantastic golf courses than you can shake your club at.  At Mount Elgin Golf Club, golfers of all skill level can enjoy a semi-private course with eighteen holes.  Heading over to Innerkip Highlands Golf Club, one can enjoy a scenic view from the clubhouse, watching other golfers at the eighteenth hole or enjoy the sport itself with a scenic and challenging game at a reasonable rate.  Finally, Ingersoll Golf Club provides high quality golfing at a reasonable rate on a heritage course.  See more golf resources here.

With this beautiful weather, get out and see what Oxford County has to offer. Looking for more ideas:  See what events  are happening in Oxford County.  Discover our theatres, find a place to dine, make a weekend of it and camp or stay at one of our many accommodations.

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Tractor Pull Thunder in Oxford County

If you and your little tike love heavy equipment and mighty machines, then you’ll have a blast at Oxford County’s tractor and truck pulls this season.  For those who have never been to a pull, you can expect a great time.  Join the crowds in the grandstands cheering as modified trucks and tractors test their limits by pulling large metal sleds with weights on them down a course.  See competitors pull in classes according to weight, enjoy great food and have a fantastic time with the whole family!

EMBRO TRUCK AND TRACTOR PULL

Over the long civic holiday weekend, come out to the Embro Truck and Tractor Pull which boasts two days of fun, ten different weight classes and free admission for children under five.    The Embro Truck and Tractor Pull is special because of the wide variety of pulls to see. The event boasts everything from horse pulls to modified tractors that will blow your mind.

Each year, proceeds go to a cause in the local community. Since 2011, The Embro Truck and Tractor Pull has put over $100,000 back into the community. You can rest assured your admission goes a long way.

The pull is for adults and children alike. On the Saturday night, children can enjoy bouncy castles and mega slides while adults watch intense competition. Stroll through the food vendors and visit some local groups including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Woodstock, Oxford Milk Corporation and Oxford Junior Farmers. It’s bound to be a great time for all.

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NORWICH OPTIMIST TRUCK N’ TRACTOR PULL

Entertainment comes in many forms at the Norwich Optimist Truck n’ Tractor Pull. The whole family will come alive with excitement as heavy machines face down against the heaviest of weights and pull them down the course. But there’s more – both nights feature live entertainment and a beer tent.

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You won’t be able to pull yourself away from these great events.

By: Gabrielle Bossy, Tourism Oxford

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6 Fun Family Destinations in Oxford County

With summer months passing by, it’s time to take the kids out for a tour of some great sites in Oxford County. Enjoy this list of  6 fun destinations for you to check out this summer.

  1. Lake Lisgar Waterpark

Since it opened in 1995, Lake Lisgar Waterpark in Tillsonburg has been a premier destination for families to soak in the warm summer sun and have a blast at the same time. The park offers giant inflatables, sprays, individual tubes and even a giant twister water slide. 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.

Lake Lisgar Waterpark is a great place to spend an entire day but there are other options too. Try a waterpark birthday party. Better yet, send your kids to camp with the Tillsonburg Community Centre and they’ll get to enjoy the park every single day! There’s no better way to spend your summer days than making a splash at the Lake Lisgar Waterpark.

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  1. Farm Fun

Oxford County is home to several Farm attractions offering education and entertainment. There are so many places to visit in the different seasons we have decided to write a blog to dedicate the right amount of time to the topic (watch for it in August 2015).

In the early spring families make their annual trek to Jakeman’s and McCully’s Hill Farm for pancake breakfasts and to learn about maple syrup.  Late summer and fall families will be found traveling to Leaping Deer Adventure Farm & Market, McCully’s Hill Farm, Norwich Optimist Corn Maze and  Snyder’s Family Farm/The Fear Farm.  At these sites families can wander through corn mazes, meet farm animals, celebrate Halloween and enjoy great educational and entertaining activities.  Great fun can be found on the farm in Oxford County.

Girls Walking In Corn Maze

  1. Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum

Did you know that Ingersoll was once home to a 7300-pound wheel of cheese or that the town was founded by Laura Secord’s father? Ingersoll was also a stop on the Underground Railroad! Learn this and many more interesting tales of Ingersoll, its cheese and its agricultural history at the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum.

With seven different buildings on site, families can wander through at their leisure or book a guided tour for a more in depth look at the history. Stop by in the summer months and explore the barn, blacksmith shop, Oxford County Museum School and replica turn of the century cheese museum. While here be sure to snap your cheesemaker photo and let the kids play in the cheesey playground.  We promise your visit will be very gouda!

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  1. Pittock & Wildwood Conservation Areas

We’re lucky to have two beautiful conservation areas in Oxford County. With a combined 5,500 acres of outdoor parkland, the possibilities are endless. Spend your day hiking the scenic trails, go birding or start up a family game of disc golf.  If that’s not enough, the conservation area staff always has loads of great events happening from star gazing to special reptile guests.

Both Pittock and Wildwood conservation areas offers overnight and seasonal camping with loads of programming to keep the kids busy while you enjoy some much needed relaxation. Head on over to the splash pad and pool at Pittock for a whale of a time or try your hand at fishing  with OFAH’s Tackle Share program (available at both parks). Don’t have a tent – don’t worry. Pittock offers a camping package where they provide (and set-up) a tent and picnic shelter.  They also provide ice, firewood and a canoe rental. A relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors.

Borrow GPS at Wildwood and go on an epic scavenger with an afternoon of geocaching. If it’s relaxation you’re looking for, rent a canoe or kayak (either location) and paddle slowly through the water. The time is sure to fly.

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  1. Woodstock Art Gallery

Woodstock Art Gallery (or WAG as it is commonly called), is Oxford County’s largest municipal public gallery. It has 2 floors of exhibits and an additional floor for classes and programming.   W.A.G. has a regular schedule of events for families, children and adults. Get creative with the whole family this summer.  Before you leave, don’t forget to check out the gift shop where you are bound to find a unique treasure to remember your trip by. See what is happening at the WAG.

6.  Libraries Are Hubs for Fun

Magic shows, reading clubs, crafts and movie nights are just a few of the fun activities that can be found at libraries in Oxford County. For information about upcoming events at the Woodstock Library visit their website and read their news updates. Oxford County Library has 14 locations throughout the County where special events are regularly held.  To view their full calendar of events visit their website. Many family and children’s programs are free or have a nominal fee.  Make plans to visit a library in Oxford.

Get out in Oxford County this summer and try these awesome stops along the way.  See what the county has to offer!  Visit www.tourismoxford.ca for a list of destinations and special events.

By:Gabrielle Bossy, Tourism Oxford

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Ingersoll comes alive with the Canterbury Folk Festival

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Garth Hudson & Sister Maud

Take a musical cruise Up On Cripple Creek with Garth Hudson – long-time organist /pianist/mufti-instrumentalist of the iconic The Band. Relive The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Then add Garth’s talented wife Sister Maud who has wowed folks all over the globe like L.A. Times critic Robert Hilburn: “Maud sang with such unadorned elegance that it hushed the packed hall.”

local dancersA Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and a New  York Blues Hall of Fame member headlining this year’s Canterbury Folk Festival (July 10- 12) in the heart of Ontario’s Festival Town Ingersoll. Boasting a line-up of local, national and international singers, musicians, dancers and artisans, the hugely popular cultural event founded by Ted Comiskey and friends back in 2000 gets bigger, better and brighter every year.

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Chris Simpson

Chris Simpson, the imaginative Yorkshire singer/songwriter once described as “The English Paul Simon” is back again with his groundbreaking folk/rock/Celtic ensemble Magna Carta now featuring bassist Will Stock, violinist Wendy Ross and guitarist/vocalist Tom Hoy. Rick Wakeman of Yes fame described the group’s iconic Lord of the Ages as “One of the greatest albums of its kind ever made.” Ted has lured Chris back to Canterbury’s centre stage, joined by crowd pleasing acts like Winnipeg’s magical Red Moon Road; the ever popular Tia McGraff “with a voice stolen from angels”; high energy Celtic rockers The Mudmen; innovative guitarist Maneli Jamal and Ingersoll’s own m.e. law, a multi-talented singer/songwriter/instrumentalist described by San Diego’s Troubadour magazine as a “rootsy Kate Bush”.

Sounds like a pricey weekend? Not so – Canterbury is one of only a handful of free festivals luring thousands from Canada, the U.S. and outside North America for the past 16 years. You can help keep it free with a small contribution in the traveling hat!

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Denal Soares

Don’t forget those wonderful local performers, the heart and soul of Canterbury, like singer/songwriter/multi-tasking instrumentalist Bob Breen joined this year by Doug Breen, Rob Blanchette and Matt Weston of Safe as Milk fame; Woodstock’s soulful vocalist Denal Soares; Newfoundlander Scott Doyle (now a proud Ingersoll resident); highly entertaining Bernie Gilmore; hot guitarist Ken Archer; host and founder Ted with keyboardist supreme Jim Gonder; children’s storyteller  Lou Ann Tessier and the delightful Crossroads Alliance Church troupe.

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Magoo

Top it off with everyone’s favourite host/entertainer Magoo and you have an inter-generational package of fun. Did we forget someone – check the website – canterburyfolkfestival.on.ca .

The family-friendly Festival draws crowds to the stages and vendors scattered through the picturesque Yvonne Mott Memorial Park; stores, sidewalk artists, dance troupes and Gazebo in the downtown core and Breakfast in the Park both Saturday and Sunday. It’s a seemingly endless weekend of sun, fun, friends, food and, of course, the glorious strains of music for all ages.

Mark it on your calendars for July 10, 11 & 12, 2015.

Written by Geoff Dale

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6 Town and Country Venues to Check Out in Oxford County

Rural traditions combined with a bit of musical genius over the years have made Oxford County into a great spot to hear live music outdoors.   With a combination of festivals and permanent locations, one can enjoy anything from pop to folk.  We’ve picked four of our favourite places to listen to outdoor music in Oxford County.

1. Patio Night at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa

The Elm Hurst Inn and Spa has been an Oxford County staple since 1865 when it was built for the James Harris Cheese Factory.  Since then, it has become an inn, spa & restaurant where travelers from all over Canada and beyond stay for both convenience of location and the beauty of the building and grounds.

Each summer, the Elm Hurst offers Patio Nights every Thursday night from 6-9PM.  These happen rain or shine and take place into early September.  On any given patio night, one can see a full band or solo act while sipping a glass of wine  and enjoying delicious food.

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2. Stonecroft Folk

Nestled back on a country road just outside of Woodstock, Stonecroft Folk is an intimate live music venue set in an old farm house.  This farm still operates on beef, swine and cash crops and has been in the owner’s family since the 1800s.   Stonecroft Folk houses professional musicians from far and wide who entertain guests with fabulous music.  See one performance or buy up season tickets before they’re gone!

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3. Canterbury Folk Festival

Summer in Oxford County just wouldn’t be the same without Ingersoll’s annual Canterbury Folk Festival.  Each July, the festival pulls thousands of people in to enjoy a bohemian-type weekend of art and folk music.   With meals, workshops, art, dance and some of the best musicians from across Canada, Canterbury Folk Fest has become an important part of Ontario’s cultural landscape.  Oh and did we mention it’s free?

GARTH_Uprightpiano_300dpiGarth Hudson (of the Band) to appear at Canterbury Folk Festival

4.  Cowapalooza

When you live in Woodstock, the dairy capital of Canada, festivals for cows are bound to be udderly fantastic.  Cowapalooza is a unique festival for the entire family where visitors can take part in a soapbox derby or cow milking contest and watch professional wrestling.  One of the high lights each year however, is two outdoor concerts featuring professional musicians that are sure to please the crowd.  Set under the Oxford County stars, in the natural amphitheater of Southside Park, you can’t go wrong!

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5. Walters Dinner Theatre

The Walters Dinner Theatre is a truly special venue located on a spacious farm property in Bright.  Featuring and owned by the Walters family, who have traveled and played music all over the world (including the Ryman Auditorium) the dinner theatre is host to several shows each year.  From tribute to variety shows, the theatre is always a hit.  The theatre opened in 2000 and now sees thousands of visitors each year!

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6. Downtown Woodstock Summer Streetfest

Woodstock Summer Streetfest is an amazing four-day street festival put on by the Downtown Woodstock BIA each year.  With vendors, car shows and over thirty musical acts each year, there is music for everyone!

So if you’re looking to combine your love of music and nature, look no further than Oxford County.  With a combination of amateur and professional musicians, a great time is guaranteed.

By: Gabrielle Bossy, Tourism Oxford

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Fun and Competition at the Embro Highland Games

Can you hear the sound of hundreds of drummers and pipers marching en masse to a Celtic rhythm? If you can then the Embro Highland Games are for you. The Embro Highland Games first began in 1856 when the Embro Highland Society was formed. However, after only two years, the society disbanded in 1888. The games were deeply missed in the area and reformed in 1937 under the Zorra-Caledonian Society. Today over 5000 spectators and competitors visit the Province’s oldest festival of its kind each July to listen to live Celtic music, see extraordinary athletic competition and have a fantastic day out with family or friends.

Live music is perhaps one of the biggest draws to the festival. Each year, competitions in solo and band piping and drumming entertain thousands of spectators. Additionally, live Celtic bands keep the party going and Celtic dance competitions show off the best of Scottish culture.  Perhaps the biggest attraction, is the Massed Band Performance where all competitive pipers and drummers perform together both at mid day and the closing of the games. It’s enough to turn you Scottish.

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Of course, what would a Scottish festival be without a little athletic competition? Each year, competitors bulk up in hopes of dominating heavy events that include stone put, weight for distance, hammer throw, caber toss, weight over bar and road races. Additionally, the Memorial Tug-Of-War Tournament (started to memorialize six Embro farmers who won the world Tug-Of-War contest in Chicago, 1893) proves to be Canada’s largest Tug-Of-War event.  Amateurs and youth can also compete in more light-hearted competition that includes stone for distance and two-person log sawing.  They can also watch some fantastic sheep herding and sheering demos. There is something for everybody!

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Finally, everyone is welcome to stroll through Concession Alley which boasts loads of Scottish vendors selling their wares.  This includes anything from jewellery and Scottish food to bag pipes! No matter who you are, you are bound to find a treasure you love.

So whether you attend for serious competition or sport, the Embro Highland Games is the place for you!

By: Gabrielle Bossy, Tourism Oxford

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Wienerfest: A Pawfully Good Time!

Where can you find thousands of wiener dogs all in one place? Wienerfest Home County Festival of course! Founded in 2000, The Wienerfest Home County Festival  promises to be one for the books. With celebrity dogs, sport competitions, dachshund shopping and games – all are welcome to come out in Embro, Ontario each June. This of course includes well behaved dogs (and owners) of all breeds.

Each year, a celebrity dog is featured at the festival and it is always a major draw.  Past guests include Obie, the dog who was incredibly obese but through the hard work and care of his owner he managed to lose 50 pounds in one year.  After making his first visit to Canada attending Wienerfest Home County Festival, he jetted off to New York to be on Good Morning America the next day!  Crusoe (named after Robinson Crusoe), the celebrity dachshund has also been a major star on the scene. With his own book deal and over 270,000 Facebook followers, he was a crowd pleaser.    Check out this hilarious video of Crusoe and his brother Oakley who was also  at Wienerfest.

On site, dog owners can  ask both a trainer and veterinarian questions about their pets. This is a great opportunity to learn about dachshunds and how to train and raise your dog in the healthiest way possible!

If your doxie is a spirited little rascal, why not have them compete? The festival features all sorts of dachshund races including puppy races, special capable races and “honorary dachshund” races for dogs of other breeds.   You can apply to race on the Wienerfest website.  Moreover, dogs can take part in a yogurt licking contest, costume contests, bob for wieners and have their photo taken in true wiener style. Finally, owners can stroll through a plethora of vendors that appeal to dog owners of all breeds and participate in a treasure hunt to win prizes.

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Not only is Wienerfest a great time, but it is a worthy cause to support. All proceeds for the day go towards the rescue of endangered and homeless pets.  If you would like to volunteer at Wienerfest please see the website for details.  Wienerfest always packs the fun and humour of the dog breed itself. You won’t want to miss it!

By: Gabrielle Bossy, Tourism Oxford

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Come Out of Your Shell at Tillsonburg Turtlefest

Come out of your shell and head down to Tillsonburg for a turtley good time! Each June, Tillsonburg Turtlefest kicks into full swing with all kinds of events to kick your summer off right!  The festival is always a great event to attend as it exemplifies the strong spirit of Tillsonburg and its sense of community. Come on down for the full weekend or enjoy one day of the festival. No matter what you choose, you won’t be sorry!

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indexTillsonburg Turtlefest started in 2011 based on a historic town legend. George Tillson, who founded Tillsonburg in 1825 is said to have made a promise to come back after his death as a turtle. Several years later, a large turtle was found near the Tillson home on the shore of Otter Creek. Townspeople believed that this was in fact George Tillson reincarnate and brought the turtle to the down town to show George how the town had grown since his death. Tillsonburg continues to prosper today and Turtlefest is a testament to George’s success.

The Friday night Block Party  really shows the spirit of Tillsonburg as stores along Broadway open their doors.  Businesses, community groups and volunteers all offer turtle themed games, menus, activities and more!  It is a great chance to check out local businesses and get to know all the great groups that Tillsonburg has to offer. Why not take part in a giant human foosball tournament or have a swingin’ good time at the hula hoop contest?

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The Saturday marks the main event for Turtlefest where turtle-themed events take place all over town.  Each year thousands come out to enjoy an affordable day of fun for the entire family. At the fairgrounds, one can pay one price and have access to numerous activities including face painting, hot air balloon rides, bouncy castles and more!  At Annandale NHS, children and adults can enjoy loads of free fun including games, crafts, historic walking tours, turtle tales and other fun stuff such as past year’s event with Nick Blandin of Happy Dragon Studios sculpting a turtle out of sand!  Visit the Station Arts Centre and stroll the Tillsonburg Farmers Market or be in awe of the sweet creations made for the Turtley Treats Baking Contest.  Besides these main hubs for turtle fun, there are still other locations to enjoy the day!  You can plan your jam-packed day ahead of time by looking at all the events happening here.

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All in all, Tillsonburg Turtlefest is always a great time for all. Whether you love action, art or both, you’re bound to get that and more from Tillsonburg Turlefest each June.

By: Gabrielle Bossy, Tourism Oxford

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