We have Small Halls festival fever!

What a way to ring in our fifth year: with 14 sold out shows in our opening weekend alone and a landmark country feast!

So many great musical memories made. Were you there when William Prince’s deep powerful voice transcended the Almonte Old Town Hall? Or how about when Lindi Ortega’s dad called her on her cell in the middle of her set causing hilarity when she quickly turned off her phone without missing a beat?

Did you see the emotion in the eyes of several of our local openers when they earned standing ovations from sold out crowds? Did you witness the magic when Stephen Fearing and opener Kelly Sloan harmonized absolutely perfectly spur of the moment in Pakenham?

Were you in the parking lot tailgating before the Colter Wall show at McDonald’s Corners Agricultural Hall? Did you use one of our programs as a fan this weekend to beat the sweltering heat while hanging onto Kathleen Edwards every last note?

It’s these magical moments that really make the Festival of Small Halls special and this was one for the books, folks. All of our opening weekend shows ended up selling out! Thanks for coming along for the ride and being a part of this amazing musical journey we’re all on together.

This week is proving to be just as unique as our shows are bringing in more top Canadian talent and showcasing halls with heritage and heart in Rankin, Spencerville, Delta, Bolingbroke, Dacre, Mississippi Mills, Merrickville, Elgin, Maberly, Dunvegan and Tatlock!

We’re welcoming artists like Jim Bryson, Mike Plume, Basia Bulat, Meaghan Blanchard, Cassie & Maggie, We Walk the Line, James Keelaghan and more. It’s sure to be memorable to the core!

Did you hear? We just added a last-minute addition to the already stacked show in Dacre, Sept. 22 at the DACA Centre – Brea Lawrenson will now open the show! She captures emotions and stories in her music that have put her on the charts several times in the last four years.  See more here: www.ontariosmallhalls.com.

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 McDonald’s Corners from Ottawa-based blogger Amy in 613!

So, you have your tickets – why not extend your visit to explore some of Eastern Ontario’s intriguing small towns? It’s easy to extend your stay and celebrate small town charm and community – by discovering it.

Here are some suggestions for authentic experiences to get you in the Festival spirit this week.

Spend time in…

Spencerville – From 5:30PM to 7PM, a pre-concert mix & mingle will be held at the Mill.  Delicious pub-style sliders and summer coleslaw will be offered. There will also be a cash bar. Tickets for the meal are $17.50 and are available online here or by calling 613-658-5885; at Spencerville’s JoeComputer and Home Hardware. Please note that this community dining event requires advance tickets. Find out more here.

DeltaBeginning at 6PM, a delicious buffet dinner will be held at the Old Town Hall featuring a variety of dishes. The cost is $14/person and reservations are required in advance by emailing joanne.van.dreumel@gmail.com. There will also be a cash bar available throughout the night. See the beauty of the Rideau Canal through its stunning lakes and tight-knit community. Explore heritage in Delta by walking through the village and discovering its historical plaques, paying tribute to important people, buildings and times past. See the Delta Old Stone Mill and find peace on an easy hike along the trail in Lower Beverley Lake Park within walking distance from the Old Town Hall. The hemlocks on the trail are gorgeous!

Mississippi Mills – Before the sold-out Cassie & Maggie show this Friday at Union Hall, be sure to pay a visit to the Clayton General Store – an historic, old-style general store near the shores of Clayton Lake. Gas, groceries, maple syrup, a lending library and a community billboard. Taste a little slice of country and visit the community hub for generations! There are also numerous hiking trails nearby, such as the Baird Trail with a unique boardwalk, so visitors can immerse themselves in the amazing nature that surrounds Union Hall!

Rankin – Before the show, hop over to Pembroke or Eganville to dine, explore shops, book a spa appointment to relax or even just grab a coffee and kick back to have a good chat with a fellow ticketholder. If nature is your thing, the Shaw Woods Education Centre would make an interesting stop before the show – with trails featuring ancient old-growth forests, rivers and more.

Bolingbroke – Discover country charm in Bolingbroke! This is the definition of Sunday drive. The winding roads, gorgeous scenery and even a nearby elevated bridge high over picturesque train tracks – you never know what is around the next bend! Fall River Restaurant and coffee house is only minutes away on Hwy. 7 and even an overnight cottage stay is doable with Cobblestones Cottages on Farren Lake right in Bolingbroke. The Bolingbroke road is also known as a scenic route for motorcyclists, and often welcomes riders to traverse its corners, hills and scenic vistas.

DunveganBeginning at 6PM, enjoy lasagna (meat & veggie options) along with Caesar salad, and dessert for $10 per person. There will also be tea/coffee/cold drinks. Cash bar with VQA wines and local microbrewery beer from Cassel Brewery and Beau’s. Tickets for the meal will be limited to 45 people – to purchase tickets ahead of time for the dinner, please contact Ben Williams at 613-525-4006 or by email at wood_guy_ben@yahoo.ca. If you’re into local history, be sure to stop by the Glengarry Pioneer Museum which offers a glimpse into Ontario’s Celtic history.This includes a number of building which recreate what an early eastern Ontario settlement would have been like.

Photo courtesy of the Bonnechere Caves

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 publicly-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.

Merrickville – Surrounding the sold out Basia Bulat show, explore this small town that is the definition of charm. It’s where creativity meets history and combines effortlessly with community. Merrickville is a local shopping mecca, but it’s also an inspiring place to visit as artists flock to the town to create, showcase their work and live. In fact, the annual Merrickville Artist Guild studio tour starts on Saturday Sept. 22 and 23 and then continues the following weekend, too. This sees MAG Artists and guest artists showcasing painting, sculpture, pottery, glass, jewelry and more. Find stops in and around the beautiful village of Merrickville. Don’t forget to stop by the locks in town and watch an authentic Rideau Canal lock in action! For more info visit the MAG website.

Elgin – Before the sold out Basia Bulat show, take the heritage walking tour available through Rideau Lakes Township, go bowling at the five-pin Elgin Bowling Lanes next door, taste the best small-town pizza around made at the local restaurant down the street, pop into a local shop for antiques or savoury items. Take a drive to the end of Davis Lock Road to see the locks working in a quiet setting along the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rideau Canal! Before the show, be sure to take a moment to read the plaques beside the Red Brick Schoolhouse to learn about local history.

Maberly: Silver Lake Provincial Park is nearby and is great for a picnic, play with the kids on the playground or even a swim if the weather co-operates. Or, stroll through “Fieldwork”, a dynamic and vibrant destination for the creation and experience of site-specific artwork. It’s a place for all ages to explore art as they experience nature. Paths through the forest lead to some eye-opening surprises. Fieldwork hosts work by local, national and international artists and invites the public to visit and explore the artwork.

Tatlock – Lace up before the show and discover nature by being immersed in it! Explore local hiking trails, like the Baird Trail and even one up Blueberry Mountain! Find out more here. This area is a nature lover’s paradise and there is an avid birding population here so take the binoculars!

Don’t have your tickets yet? See our full schedule here and rally your friends! Please note that ticket purchase over the phone is also an option by calling 613.402.1425.