Harness that small town vibe!

Another incredible weekend of live music in the books as we cruise towards the last weekend of Small Halls 2017! It was a hot one for our small halls but we learned that Festival programs instantly turn into fans when coaxed.

We added a few new names to the local openers list in the past few weeks.  Jessica Wedden is now opening up for Ashley MacIsaac in Seeley’s Bay and in Dacre! She is an impressive 15-year-old fiddler, composer, step dancer and trick fiddler – it’s going to be a banner sold-out show.

Last Friday we enjoyed a Small Halls first when we brought one of the artists into a local school to share music with the students. Dave Gunning hit the road early after performing a show in Toledo the night before and ventured to South Crosby Public School. The entire school gathered in the gym to hear Dave and he proved to be a fantastic performer to all ages! He had the staff and students laughing and singing along to his songs in no time. When he played These Hands, the entire school of more than 200 students sang along and it was pure magic. Big kudos to Dave for sharing his talents!

It’s hard to believe this is the last weekend of shows in your small halls! We’re looking forward to going to Alexandria, Maxville, Portland, Renfrew, Dacre, McDonald’s Corners, Seeley’s Bay, Westmeath and more! Take a peek here at the schedule for the final week.

So far, artists, media, audience members and communities have been loving the small halls vibe, talent and cherished spaces which make the amazing music come alive with their ingrained history and heart. Read this intimate look at the show in Pakenham from Life in Pleasantville!

So, you have your tickets – why not extend your visit to explore some of Eastern Ontario’s intriguing small towns? It’s easy to explore and celebrate small town charm and community – by discovering it! Here are some suggestions for authentic experiences to get you in the spirit for week three.

Portland Dinner is available at The Galley Restaurant, Len’s Cove Marina, 11 Water St., Portland at 5:30 pm. Pub menu/Casual atmosphere. Located on the Big Rideau Lake, a short walk or two minute drive to Portland Community Hall. For reservations call (613) 272-5125 or email thegalley@lenscove.com. Reservations required – limited seating. Stroll around the village and take a breather in Hanna Park across the road from the community hall. This park has a gazebo and a gorgeous old tree that shelters a few shoreline benches. Watch the sun set over the water.

Renfrew – The town has the Bonnechere River running through it, so take a peek at the natural river which is known for its rapids and water-churning chutes! Take a stroll down the road and explore several parks along the river for viewing. There are also a few sumptuous places to eat before the show – dig in and arrive with a full belly. Don’t forget that Batstone’s Northern Ramble has announced the show as a BYOB event.

Maxville – Your taste buds will appreciate a trip to Muir’s Bakery! This family owned business was established since 1929 in Montreal, Quebec. They feature Scottish Specialties such as meat pies, steak/kidney/mushroom pies, Empire or Princess cookies and of course Haggis!

Seeley’s Bay – Stroll down Main Street and stop by the Nest Egg for one-of-a-kind items from local artisans; taste sweet treats from the local chocolatier; discover Haskin’s Point as a beautiful vantage point along the Rideau Canal, or stop in Centennial Park for a picnic! For the more adventurous, this is also an excellent location to put in your canoe or kayak for a leisurely paddle before the show!  Watch around town for several storyboards to learn more about the history behind this vibrant small town.

McDonald’s Corners – Discover more near McDonald’s Corners! Make memories while visiting nearby Wheeler’s Maple Museum, which holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of maple artifacts in the world! Lace up and visit the Purdon Conservation Area – home to a unique nature trails (one is even an accessible boardwalk), as well as the largest colony of lady slipper orchids in Canada. McDonald’s Corners Agricultural Hall will be buzzing with activity even during intermission when artisanal pizzas by PJs Pizzas will be available for purchase!

Alexandria – The Quirky Carrot will offer concert attendees a prix fixe menu beginning at 5:30PM. The menu includes: Salad of grilled haloumi & plums, Entrée of Mariposa duck confit, with a butternut squash purée, potato rosti, pan fried Brussels sprouts with a balsamic glaze, Dessert: panna cotta with wild black raspberry.  $29.95 plus tax & gratuity. Beverages sold separately. Reservations required by email to thequirkycarrot@gmail.com.

Dacre – History and nature combine beautifully in the Dacre and Mount St. Patrick area! See the historic St. Patrick’s Church, said to be the oldest active Roman Catholic Church in Canada dating back to 1869. Be sure to take a peek at the legendary Holy Well, complete with a public-accessible small beauty of a white washed building surrounding it. For a unique perspective, tour the intriguing Bonnechere Caves underground in nearby Douglas. If you’re a ghost town seeker, the tiny abandoned town of Balaclava, focused on the lumber mill, is great source for photos.

Westmeath – One of the most pristine sand dune and wetland complexes along the southern Ottawa River is found nearby, at Westmeath Provincial Park. It’s located on Bellow’s Bay, and even features a rare, active sandspit! The park has no facilities or overnight camping, but does offer swimming and wildlife viewing as it is home to more than 300 plant species, more than 180 bird species and many species at risk.

Burritt’s RapidsStraddling the Rideau River, near Lock 17 on the Rideau Canal and a waypoint on the Rideau Trail, the village is a mecca for paddlers, hikers, fishermen, cyclists and birders. Take an easy walk on the Tip-to-Tip Trails (4.5 kms roundtrip) or through the fields up to the Stoney Steps (3 kms roundtrip) or choose a grab a longer section of the Rideau Trail. There is a play structure in the backyard of the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall. Work up an appetite and then join us for post-show tapas (choice of 3 plates + dessert) for $25. Book now by emailing andrea@habicurious.com. Payment will be made BY CASH at the door day of the show. To view the full menu, please visit the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall page.

Kilmaurs – Take a drive and visit Fitzroy Provincial Park! Short trails are perfect for walking before the show while the beaches beckon. See century-old White Pine forest and a stand of 200-year-old Bur Oak at the park! Be sure to pack the camera to take photos roadside along the way.

Click here for more information about tickets, the artists and Small Halls! See you this weekend!