Barrie, you certainly know how to make February festive!
In keeping with my commitment to support local, I ventured forth to explore the gamut of activities that have made Barrie’s Winterfest one of the top 100 festivals and events in Ontario.
There were so many events running concurrently; food, flicks, music and more, I needed to pull out a notebook and coloured highlighters to organize my time. A weekend jam packed full of wonderful, I wanted to experience all that I could!
This is a family friendly festival, an all ages event, truly something for everyone. New to the city, this is a great way to explore, little ones to entertain, lots to keep them occupied inside and out. Barrie Public Library had activities and live music, while the MacLaren Art Centre offered arts and crafts, Aboriginal Storytelling and a performance by the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers.
While the weather whispered spring, the community came out in droves to celebrate the winter season. Helicopter and horse rides rather than dog sled, the midway spun, snow sculptures sprang up magically overnight, ice carvings shone bright.
We just ignored the mud.
Barrielicious makes winter taste great; as local independent restaurants create delicious three course meals, offering customers the opportunity to experience culinary creations from a set price menu. Painters Hall was a tasty way to start; classic fine dining is found on Clapperton Street.
The Downtown Barrie BIA initiative aptly named the #hotcocoatrail was the perfect opportunity to shop the local cafes and restaurants while giving back to the community as donations were going to Youth Haven. Fourteen vendors created variations of hot chocolate; sweet, spicy, s’mores, mocha or strawberry, topped with whip cream, marshmallows, both or neither! I did my best, but topped out at nine cups. Sincere apologies to those I missed, great cups and a great cause.
Did you have a favourite flavour?
Reel Stories documentary films entertained and educated at the charming Uptown Theatre. European style crisscross lights over Dunlop Street highlight the venue while creating street ambience. I thoroughly enjoyed the movies I attended, my favourite being “Trumbo”. It was interesting to discover that he was the screenwriter for classic movies such as “Roman Holiday” and “Exodus”.
Jazz swinging, blues talking, a harmony of happy sounds courtesy of the February Blues circled the lake this year, as Robin Munro introduced the power of the music to the far reaches of Georgina; via Jacksons Point, Keswick, Pefferlaw and Sutton. My focus was on the Barrie downtown core where there was a beat for everyone; from established Juno award winning musicians, to the ones to watch. On Friday I took in a set of George Olliver, he of Mandala, Domenic Troiano and Club Bluenote fame. Saturday night, Simcoe’s own Louis LeFaive captivated the painting crowd at Canvas and Cabernet.
I was introduced to Gypsy swing, or as Tony Quarrington described it, the music of France circa 1935 or the soundtrack of a Woody Allan movie by Django and Beyond at Chavo Crepes. Chavo also hosted Beverly Taft & Tania Gill; I wanted to stay longer to listen to her unique swing style but the resto was standing room only, that’s local love!
I was impressed with the pipes on Jordana Talsky at Tara Indian Cuisine; I hope she will be back for the June Blues and Jazz festival.
Friday night Cabin Fever Blues at our city hall rotunda was a room full of familiar faces and tunes. While Saturday night, “Jack was back”. Juno award winning Jack de Keyzer filled the space with his epic enlightening performance entitled “Builder of the Blues”.
Sticky Fingers was the location for late night headliners; with Joe Huron, Jack de Keyzer and Paul James taking the stage on consecutive nights engaging the audience until the wee hours.
“Soups On” in support of The Heart and Stroke Foundation brought sweet and savoury flavours to the rotunda on Sunday. February is Heart month, altruism was on the menu; local restaurants and businesses were dishing up bowls of soup, buns, sweets and chocolates along with donations to this worthy cause. Attendees voted for a favourite soup, this year’s winner was SoupHerb for their offering of loaded potato; they will proudly display the trophy for the duration of 2016. Ladles up in a tribute of thanks to all vendors; including Boon, Cravings Fine Food, Chelsea Chocolate’s, Fox’s Bakery, Herb n’ Sage, Michael & Marion’s, Panera and a special shout out to Sugar Diva who donated all her profits from the event to the foundation.
As Sunday wound down, with rosy cheeks and a heart filled with civic pride, I wanted to draw out the last moments of Winterfest with a family friendly Barrielicious dinner. Comfort was found in plates of pasta at Pizzeria Italia, family run for many years; it was the perfect gentle end to a wonderful weekend.
I am looking forward to March, fingers crossed the sweet syrup season begins; as I will be here in support of local with Re/Max Chay Reality Inc. Sales Representative and enthusiastic owner operator of Barrie’s Simcoe County Shop Local, Erin Corcoran, to share our finds as we continue to bring you Barrie Through the Seasons.
Written by https://www.penelopejmorrow.com/