Pumpkins and all things spice: autumn in Stratford

IMG_0657The Pumpkin Parade in the city of Stratford, Ontario moves from Veteran’s Drive to Market Square behind City Hall. The 7th annual parade will be held November 1st., 2017 from 5 – 9 p.m. Participants in the free event are encouraged to take their carved creations to Market Square early to be lit and displayed for judging.
There will be prizes for the best pumpkin in each of the four age categories: 5 and under, 6-9, 10-14 and 15 and older, with judging to take place at 6:30 p.m. Post event the donated carved pumpkins will become a delicious treat for wild boars at a local farm. Info: 1-800-561-7926 www.visitstratford.ca

 Factory 163

Carolyn Horley is a long time part of the Stratford, Ontario culture scene. Carolyn’s studio space is in a collective artist’s rental space housed at 163 King Street, Stratford in an historic 15,000 sq. ft building. No pesticide or herbicide is used on the factory gardens comprised of mostly native species. The gardens attract birds and butterflies. There is much work to do at Factory 163 in terms of “Green” restoration. Contact Factory 163 at: 519-301-9663 if interested in her work of which some is for sale or the collective’ mandate.

Empty Bowls

Check out the workshops held at Factory 163, including an upcoming major fundraiser November 3, 2017.  There will be two seatings and an “All You Can Eat” buffet. And you get to keep the painted bowl! Interested in becoming a registered painter, and assisting in painting the bowls used in House of Blessings annual fundraising event? Public sessions are hosted every Wednesday 7pm to 9pm, and qualifying artists will be provided with an access card for day admittance to the HOB facilities and materials. All painters welcome Wednesday Evenings 7pm to 9pm! But do check for current dates and times just to be sure.  http://www.shob.org http://www.factory163.com 

Springworksfestival is part of Stratford Culture October 12 – 22, 2017. Find 40+ new works  Productions include dance, theatre, music and musical theatre, cabaret, puppets and family events, poetry and spoken word, visual and digital arts and film and workshops in ten venues in Stratford. From Ruthven to Passchendale by Studio Babette. Here you will be thrilled by 14 hand-made table-top puppets brought to life that depict the sacrifices made by Canada’s soldiers in WW1. Be prepared to laugh and shed a tear, too. Oct 1, 15, 22. Ages 12+.  60 minutes.  www.springworksfestival.ca

Mama’s Broke with Lisa Maria and Amy Lou. Saturday October 21, 2017 at 8:15 p.m. 60 minutes.  Stay for the dancing after the show.

Plugging into Nature by Paddling Puppeteers.  Edward is green and loves it.  When his iPhone battery goes flat Edward is helped by several colourful critters to reward him with the realization that being outside is really a lot of fun!  What and where is “outside?  You will just have to find out for yourself. October 21, 22, 2017.  Ages 5+. Show length: 35 min + Q & A.  www.springworksfestival.ca 


Film fan? I am. So it was with great interest and curiosity that I learned of films shown at the Queen of the Square Cinema in a state-of-the-art auditorium facility. The auditorium is in the Stratford City Hall. An intimate portrait of Canada’s most renowned Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris and the Canadian landscapes that inspired him.  Where the Universe Sings: The Spiritual Journey of Lawren Harris.  The documentary is by Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont who will be in attendance for a Q & A following the film.  Tickets purchased at the box office or in advance on-line.  Sunday October 22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.  Check it out at:  www.queenofthesquare.ca

Stratford Festival


The world’s greatest and finest actors have played the Stratford Festival stage. In 2017 the festival celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday that, too, celebrates identity. Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino says: As we celebrate our national identity, we might do well to remember that, no matter how we name ourselves, actions, not words, will define us. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Antoni Cimolino

Treasure Island is at the Avon Theatre. You may recall the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stratford Festival production adapted by Nicolas Billon. Closes October 22, 2017.

HMS Pinafore at the Avon Theatre. Book and lyrics by W.S Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan.  Jennifer Rider-Shaw plays Josephine and Mark Uhre plays Ralph Rackstraw. Closes October 21, 2017.

Guys And Dolls plays at the Festival Theatre is an immensely successful  Broadway musical based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.  The book is by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Closes October 29, 2017.

Romeo And Juliet by William Shakespeare at the Festival Theatre (main theatre overlooking the Avon River) consumes all six senses.  Closes October 21, 2017.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare plays the Festival Theatre with the remarkable Brent Carver as Feste. Tom Rooney plays Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Rooney played Tartuffe at the Festival Theatre). http://www.stratfordfestival.ca  Toll Free telephone: 1-800-567-1600 ask about the special Stratford bus.  www.stratfordfestival.ca/ondemand


Gallery Stratford is housed in an historic attractive building very close to the Avon River. In 1985, Gallery Stratford’s building was recognized by City of Stratford, designating it a Heritage Building. The gallery prides itself on contemporary works of art.  Currently, the Ron Shuebrook exhibition of 75 selected works between 1965 to 2017 to celebrate Shuebrook’s life is on until 27 November 2017 with an artist’s talk taking place Thursday, November 2nd., 2017 at 7:p.m. Gallery Stratford, 54 Romeo Street, Stratford, ON  Telephone: 519-271-5271 x 222. Director / Curator Angela Brayham.



Also check out the harvest festival weekends in October. Everybody will have fun with their hand at the pumpkin catapult. Pick your own pumpkin for carving and cooking. Yup, the farm market sells fresh baked pies, preserves and local meats and produce. www.mccullys.ca

Follow the pumpkin trail to the sweetest treats in town!

Don’t forget the Pumpkin Trail until October 31, 2017 for just $25. + taxes to choose six treats from 26 pumpkin treats. I’ve walked most of the trail in downtown Stratford. Many of the shops are on Ontario street ( one of the main streets) or within a few city blocks. Check out 98 Downie Street where The Artful Badger is located. Choose a luxurious soap made with a subtle natural pumpkin scent and a Non-GMO product made by Soapstones in Huntsville, Ontario. 519-273-7337.

If you are into honey as I am myself (this was my first stop on my walking adventure on the Pumpkin Trail scent!) choose a 110ml jar of pure and natural Pumpkin Spice Honey from one of Stratford’s treasures in shopping for gifts and culinary items at Treasures, 151 Ontario Street. Telephone: 1-519-272-1715 Twitter account: TreasuresStrtfd . Sooooo good on toast or drizzled over pancakes. How about stirred into your coffee hot or cold.

I made a BIG mistake in not using two orange Pumpkin Trail coupons for two Kandy Cakes Pumpkin caramel cheesecakes with cream cheese frosting, caramel and cinnamon chantilly cream ’cause the taste was out-of-this-world fabulous. By the way there is also a Pumpkin-pie-spiced cupcake with cinnamon chantilly cream and fresh nutmeg. What was i thinking!? I should have tasted both. I guess I got so excited just looking at all the cupcakes my head wasn’t on straight. Kandy Cakes, 47 York Street. Telephone: 1-519-508-3835.

From roasted heirloom pumpkin seeds from the Finger Lakes, pumpkin tart or soup, pumpkin tea, pumpkin beer, pumpkin pancake & waffle mix, gluten free pumpkin cookies with pecans, raisins, and cinnamon, to Village Craft & Candle Inc. in St. Marys just outside of Stratford for a pumpkin spice candle.

There are 26 pumpkin treats from which to choose or purchase PumpkinTrail vouchers for all 26 treats. JENN & Larry’s Brittle ‘n Shakes at 49 York Street really got my sweet tooth in a jam.  I devoured it! Crunchy and absolutely delicious brittle is a must have.

Also the Junction 56 Distillery at 45 Cambria Street (519-305-5535) offers a 50ml bottle of Pumpkin Spice Liqueur using handcrafted vodka as a base.

Buy your tickets for the Pumpkin Trail online or in person in Stratford, Ontario. Telephone Stratford Tourism Alliance at 47 Downie Street, Stratford, ON to find out more about the Pumpkin Trail 1-800-561-7926. www.visitstratford.ca 


Where to stay?  Just about around the corner at one end of the Avon River sits A Patch of Heaven B&B. Hosts Eleanor and Bill Kaethler offer several style of accommodation with a hearty breakfast in a spacious dining room where several daily newspapers and magazine titles are available to read.  My accommodation offered all the leg room I am use to: private and spacious kitchenette with large bedroom with four-piece ensuite bathroom.  I enjoyed a pleasant night’s rest. There is a private side entry to the suite which makes this B&B ideal for a family with young children. And if you want to dine in a casual or elegant fashion, Stratford has many restaurants and cafes to satisfy the fussy sort.  Stratford is blessed with a culinary ambiance that rates with some of the best dining spots in major cities. 36 Waterloo Street North, Stratford.  Toll-free telephone: 1-800-447-8112 or local: 519-273-2672 http://www.patchofheavenbandb.com

I rode the free Stratford horse and carriage on a heritage tour of the city.  Check it out in the summer of 2018.  So much fun.  Check with Stratford Tourism for dates and location in 2018.  Stratford Tourism Alliance, 47 Downie Street, Stratford, ON N5A 1W7. Toll Free: 1-800-561-7926  www.visitstratford.ca

Stratford Christmas Trail marks beginning of holiday season

Throughout November and running until December 20, 2017, twenty-seven shops present fabulous stocking stuffers. You’ll discover unique and individual gift ideas when you stroll Stratford’s festive streets with shops draped in fresh cedar rope and tied with big red bows. Kick off your holiday shopping with the Christmas Trail, just choose six gifts for $30 (+HST).

Purchase your Christmas Trail at Stratford Tourism at 47 Downie Street, Stratford, ON to receive your  Christmas Trail map and six vouchers in exchange for your choice of unique and distinctive gifts. There are 27 stops on the Christmas Trail, so it will be a hard choice from which to choose just six shops.  You just might choose to purchase more than one Christmas Trail.

Here are a few gifts found along the Christmas Trail: for the gentleman on your list choose a fine shave cream; or, locally distilled Fireshine cinnamon liqueur. What about a special steak spice blend.  For your neighbour or favourite teacher pick up a festive posie pot, check out a jolly greeting card.  It’s melt-in-your-mouth shortbread festive time, too.

For your Secret Santa choose tasty Stratford-made peanut brittle and Christmas blend coffee to accompany a one-of-a-kind costume fabric keepsake ornament.  The holiday season is party time. A gift perfect for the host or hostess is a bouquet of large pine cone fire starters.  A sweet and spicy mixed nuts gift always finds its way on a holiday serving table.  If there is a holiday traveller on your list consider a tribute to Canada 150 with a maple leaf luggage tag.  Don’t forget famous Stratford-made fudge.  We’ve made our Christmas Trail list and checked it twice, so you’ll find a homemade healthy doggy treat, too.

“The art of shopping in Stratford is revealed with a surprising collection from the funky to the eclectic to the fashionable, all in a vibrant setting of architectural beauty dressed for the season. The Christmas Trail has become a Stratford holiday tradition presenting opportunities to explore new shops, revisit favourites and see unique gifts in a friendly atmosphere,” says Lori DeGraw, Executive Director.

Participating Christmas Trail stops, all dressed up for the season with gifts ready and waiting for you include:  The Artful Badger; Bard’s Steakhouse; The Barkery; Black Angus Bakery & Catering; Blowes Cards & Gifts; Bradshaws; The British Touch (Shakespeare); Buzz Stop; Distill; Distinctly Tea; The Flower Shop and More (St. Marys); The Gentle Rain; Jenn & Larry’s; Junction 56 Distillery; Olive Your Favourites; Resonance; Rocky Mtn Chocolate; Samsonite Retail Outlet; Small-Mart General Mercantile; The Spa Near the Tracks; The Spa on Albert; Stratford Chefs School Kitchens; Stratford Festival Shop; Sun Rayz (St. Marys); Treasures; Village Craft & Candle (St. Marys); Willls and Prior.

The Stratford Christmas Trail is available at Stratford Tourism, 47 Downie Street (open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm and Saturday 10 am- 4 pm, for $30 (plus HST). Trail goers are invited to share their experiences using #ChristmasTrail. The final Christmas Trail shopping day will be Sunday, December 20, 2017.

www.visitstratford.ca/ChristmasTrail or call 519-271-5140 or 1-800-561-7926. Check out additional holiday activities to celebrate the season.

www.visitstratford.ca @StratfordON  @SavourStratford

O:519.271.5140  1.800.561.7926  C:519-703-5062


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