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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Art, environment mix to highlight lake Simcoe!

Art, environment mix to highlight lake

Jul 28, 2005

An art and environment show that will emphasize the environmental problems affecting Lake Simcoe at a time when the Ontario government has undertaken a study of greenlands and natural areas in Southern Ontario will be held Saturday at Wilderness Places Gallery at 21003 Dalton Rd., Sutton from noon to 5 p.m.

The show is sponsored by the Zephyr Society of Lake Simcoe.

"The art and the environment show is planned to inform the populace about the resilience and creativity of area residents and to point out the fragility of the natural environment we all depend on for our health and sustenance," show organizer Paul Harpley said.

A select group of artists from Georgina and other areas in Ontario will exhibit original work in this one-day show with an environmental theme.

A wide range of natural and manufactured materials from rocks and minerals, wood, soapstone, graphite, watercolours, smelted metals, steel works and paintings will be on display, Mr. Harpley said.

"They will be joined by environmentalists and naturalists with displays, scientific papers, displays and information about the natural heritage of the Lake Simcoe area," Mr. Harpley said.

Information and themes will highlight wildlife, geography and environmental challenges today and for the future, he said.

"This show provides a stimulus for discussing our impact on the environment, and for reconnecting with the natural world around us," Mr. Harpley said.

Artists include Lindsay Howlett, Heather Rennie, Malcolm Madsen, Graham Ames, Todd Jamieson and Alfie Fishgap, as well as Mr. Harpley, also a wildlife artist. Original drawings, paintings and sculpture of local landscapes are for show and sale.

"Come find out the current thinking and action related to the environment, art and sustainability in our community, meet some of the people involved and see the result of their work," Mr. Harpley said

For more information phone 905-722-8751, 905-722-8021 or see the websites and

Kempenfest Information

Ken Loverock is looking forward to the hustle and bustle of Kempenfest. He's been going to the gigantic arts and crafts festival, off and on, since he was a college student in the late 1970s, and he remembers the crowds were big back then too.

He doesn't worry about the thousands of people squeezing to the left, then the right, the strollers or dogs on leashes, in fact he's looking forward to seeing them. As one of the 370 vendors at the festival, the local potter can enjoy the days tucked away in his booth. It's a busy three days, but he enjoys it.

"It's close, it's easy for me to get to," he said from his showroom at Fergusonvale Pottery, which he owns with his wife Gwen. The business is located next to his home in Fergusonvale, between Barrie and Elmvale.

He used to do other arts and crafts shows, including big ones in Muskoka and Toronto, but decided to cut back to local shows. Kempenfest is his biggest. "There are a lot of things to consider when you go to shows, like who's going to mind the shop while you're away."

His busy time starts well before the long Civic Holiday weekend. "I put a real push on in early June," he said. "I start preparing, getting it all made, then the last two weeks of July it gets fired."

Loverock's introduction to Kempenfest was when he was still a fine arts student at Georgian College in the late 1970s.

He began the fine arts program in 1976 and had to pick a major the following year. "I don't know why I took pottery," he admitted.

He continued as a vendor until the 1980s, then took a break before heading back in the early 1990s. "I've been going back ever since," he said.

In addition to doing brisk business over the weekend, there is also spin-off benefits. Located at the corner of Highway 27 and Flos Line 4, many people drive by, but he notices a jump in business during August.

"People will come in and say they saw me at Kempenfest," he said.

He describes his work as functional table wear which includes oven wear, wine goblets, table settings and sugar and cream sets. He also makes woven bowls "which are primarily used for fruit."

For Kempenfest, he likes to bring some of his weather proof birdhouses and other unique gifts.

"When you've been doing Kempenfest for so long ... you have a pretty good idea what to bring. You go with the standard stuff and then some new things," said Loverock. "Over the years, the items that have done really well are the wine goblets and coffee mugs."

His veggie-and-dip bowl has also remained a constant seller over the years. "It's the one item people are constantly asking for."

In the shop, his mainstay is tableware, but that's not what he stocks up on for the show. People are often looking for gifts when they come to a show and are not always sure what will match. The solution is to pick something that doesn't have to match, like a bird feeder, or woven fruit bowl.

A couple years ago, Loverock created fun hockey stick Christmas tree ornaments as a promotion and was pleasantly surprised to see their popularity take off at shows. "People still buy them for their 18-year-old son," he said.

Several years ago, he developed a simple candle holder, which he sold for $5. It made a great teacher gift, and those are the types of pieces many people look for when they come to shows like Kempenfest.

Like many potters, Loverock has a long list of ideas he would like to try, and he hopes someday he'll have the time to experiment.

Now that his children are older, they can help him with the prep work which frees up time for him to work on the actual pieces. His wife Gwen, who took interior design and textiles at Georgian, does the administrative work, as well as lend a hand in the shop. "She helps me with the glazing and preparing the clay," he said.

Once the pieces are air-dried, they are fired in his self-made kiln, which takes about 24 hours to heat up to the 1,100 C for the first firing, then to 1,300 C for the final firing. Then it's several hours before the pieces are cool enough to handle.

His kiln is in a back room of the shop where it can get very hot, particularly on a hot summer day. One year, he had all the doors open to help cool things down when a large bird flew in and panicked, flying from one end of the shop room to the other, looking for an escape. Somehow, nothing was broken, but the experience was more than a little disconcerting, for the potter as well as the bird.

"I'll never get rich doing this," said Loverock. "But I can walk to work and I can drop what I'm doing if one of the kids needs a ride. "It's not all about the money," he said. "There's a lot of other pluses."

Loverock is one of 370 artisans and craftspeople who will have a booth at the upcoming Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts at Kempenfest. It is one of the largest arts and crafts shows in the country.

The show is presented by the Barrie Art Club and Kiwanis Club of Barrie.

Paintings, drawings, glass works, wood work, metal work, photography, clothing, home decor, jewelry and accessories, pottery, and treats for the body and soul are among the offerings that weekend.

For a complete vendor list, check out

Parking advice to heed

To ease the Kempenfest parking crunch, free buses will be travelling in one direction, making stops on the lake side of the waterfront.

There are four stops along the waterfront: Lakeshore Drive at Minet's Point Road, the Southshore Community Centre, Lakeshore Drive at Tiffin Street, and Lakeshore Drive at Victoria Street.

The buses then travel through town to repeat the route. They will make a stop at the City's downtown bus terminal to catch any users of the regular bus routes from there.

Visitors can also take advantage of the free Park 'n' Ride shuttle from the Allandale Rec Centre at 190 Bayview Dr. There's free parking throughout the weekend, with shuttles leaving the site every half hour between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Last shuttle returns at 6 p.m. from the drop-off point at Centennial Beach and Victoria Street.

So what is Kempenfest, anyway?

Kempenfest is comprised of a number of local charities and service clubs, that join forces to create the three-day extravaganza.

The Barrie Kiwanis Club works with the Barrie Art Club to act as the jurists for admitting new artisans into the Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts. The clubs also operate food booths. Funds raised allow the clubs to continue their support of Easter Seals, school bursaries, hearing-impaired children, Iodine Deficiency Disorder, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Salvation Army, food bank, and children's camps.

The Barrie Art Club is one of the founding partners of Kempenfest, and their Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts is for many, the heart of Kempenfest. The Barrie Art Club supports local artists through scholarships at Georgian College, purchase of art-related publications, donations to Simcoe County Museum, art workshops, demonstrations, and free artistic learning sessions. The club also operates a volunteer-based gallery that is open to the public.

The Rotary Club of Barrie's main focus is on the entertainment stages and beer gardens. Barrie's other Rotary Clubs also participate. The Huronia Rotary Club hosts a Pancake Breakfast on Sunday. Profits are used by the clubs to continue their work with RVH, YMCA, Food Bank, Christmas Cheer, Rotary Islands, and the Southshore Community Centre.

The YMCA has hosted a food and beverage tent for years. It also hosts a Children's Village offering free activities for kids. All profits are used to help families and children to participate in Y programs and activities.

The Optimist Club of Barrie organizes the Optimist Antique Show featuring more than 80 antique dealers.

The club also operates a food booth. Funds raised are used to support the club's ongoing work with youth.

The Barrie Lions Club and the Lioness Club host a food booth and community talent stage during Kempenfest. The club's fund-raising efforts support local charities and sports groups.

The MacLaren Art Centre hosts the MacLaren Oasis - a food and beverage outlet. Proceeds are used to support the visual arts education and exhibition program of the centre.

The Knights of Columbus operate a potato booth. Local potatoes are cooked on-site. Profits are used to continue the organization's support of the less fortunate.

The event is also sponsored by many community-minded businesses. They are listed on the Web site at

More than arts and crafts at Kempenfest

When people think Kempenfest, arts and crafts are likely what first springs to mind. But the weekend offers so much more to enjoy.

Starting at the far corner on the bay's south shore is the second-annual Canadian Open Barbecue Championships, where visitors can watch teams compete for $20,000 in prize money.

More than 40 competitors will be vying for the money and bragging rights in such categories as beef, chicken, pork rib, pork shoulder and dessert.

This year, visitors will be able to sample some of the great cooking in the competition as chefs will be selling some of their great food. The championships will also feature a licensed refreshment area, with proceeds benefitting the MacLaren Art Centre.

Next to the competition site is the YMCA Children's Village, which provides a safe and fun environment for children under 12 to have fun.

The MacLaren Art Centre has a tent set up near the Tiffin Street boat launch where, among other events, Aboriginal artist Moses Beaver and a youth group from Toronto's 7th Generation Image-Makers will make a large mural about their heritage.

The MAC is also organizing another hands-on project: A community fence. Visitors are invited to paint a fence picket that expresses their own heritage and ideas about our community.

The Optimist Antique Show is back again. Members of the Barrie Optimist Club host a show of antiques and collectibles at the Centennial parking lot.

The entertainment stage and beer tent is centre stage, so to speak, in the heart of Centennial Beach, and then there is the midway set up in the parking lot just north of Victoria Street.

Tucked in amongst these sites, are 370 artists and crafts people who will be selling their unique and wonderful works.

Check out the Web site at

Poker run roars through Georgian Bay

Poker run roars through Georgian Bay

- Some boats can hit speeds of 120 mph

From Meaford to Port McNicoll, boaters will get the thrill of racing through the water this weekend for the Georgian Bay Poker Run.

There is a mandatory driver's meeting on Saturday morning, and the roar of the engines will start at 9:30 a.m. in Honey Harbour at the Delawana Inn, as the drivers are given their first poker card.

"The Honey Harbour area will vibrate with excitement as the anticipation builds and the crews pull away from the dock, make their way through the narrow channels to their starting point southeast of Beausoleil Island," said David Gravelle, organizer and president of WOW Special Event Management Inc.

Once the boats go past the markers, they will start the race to Christian Island.

"Some of the boats participating in this year's Power Boating Canada Magazine Poker Run can reach speeds up to 120 miles per hour. For many, the trip to Christian Island will be relatively quick, with Beausoleil First Nation Chief Valerie Monague seeing the first boats arrive around 10:45 a.m. at the island's ferry dock," said Gravelle.

There, the poker runners will get their second card and a small gift from the First Nation band council.

The next stop for the boats is in Meaford, and Gravelle predicts it should take approximately an hour to get there.

"The poker run concept was initiated in Meaford 17 years ago. This year, the Meaford and District Chamber of Commerce along with the Royal Canadian Legion and Richardson Boatworks will host the poker run lunch stop and hand out the third card."

After refueling, the boats will head back to the North Simcoe area, getting a card from Penetanguishene Mayor Anita Dubeau.

"Penetanguishene is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year. Events being staged as part of the poker run festival weekend include a midway, a two-day event promoting the boating lifestyle, a visit by the American Great Lakes Cruiser Association, and a evening boat parade."

After the boaters pick up their cards, they will head to Port McNicoll and its waterfront festival. This year, activities have been expanded to include a vendor market, live entertainment, a charity barbecue, beer garden and a personal watercraft stunt show.

This is the second stop for boaters at the Port McNicoll harbour, after the Parade of Power on Friday night, where members of Community Living Huronia get to tour around in the speed boats.

"Port McNicoll will be the ideal location to see the boats up close, as well as experience some small-town hospitality as local performers entertain Friday evening and Saturday all day."

Tay Township Mayor Robin Talbot will also be on hand Saturday to deal card five in the afternoon.

Following the Port McNicoll visit, the poker runners will return to the Delawana Inn Resort for a cocktail reception and dinner, followed by the unveiling of the poker hands and the crowning of the 2005 champion.

Gravelle welcomes onlookers to any of the card stops, and for more information, call him at 549-8975, or check out the Web site at

If you're itchy after swimming, you're not alone

If you're itchy after swimming, you're not alone

Published: Wed, Jul 27th, 2005

The health unit has been receiving many phone calls from people complaining of something that's making them itch at beaches across Simcoe and Muskoka.

It's "swimmer's itch," back again and right on schedule.

The itch is a nuisance condition caused by a tiny parasite that passes between aquatic birds and snails in its life cycle, sometimes mistaking people as a host.

It appears in shallow water when lake and river temperatures rise, usually in late June to mid-July.

While this is an irritating condition, it is seldom harmful and is not considered a health hazard.

Children are more likely to catch it because they spend so much time swimming.

The best way to help prevent swimmer's itch is to towel off vigorously or shower after swimming.

For more information on swimmer's itch and its prevention or treatment, visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Web site at, or call Health Connection at 721-7520, or 1-800-721-7520, Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Children can help save Lake Simcoe

Children can help save Lake Simcoe

Lake Simcoe is not just any lake. We are very lucky to have the fourth largest lake in Ontario right at our fingertips. Lake Simcoe is Canada's ice fishing capital. Thousands catch fish from our lake every year. What would happen if all of the fish suddenly weren't there? What would happen if all that was in the lake was overgrown weeds? There would be no swimming (I know I wouldn't want to swim in a lake full of weeds). There would be no fishing because, as the weeds decayed, all the oxygen would be used up and there would be none left for the fish. The lake would die. At the rate we are going, this is what's happening. A chemical called phosphorus is causing the weeds to overgrow. I remember a few years ago when my parents decided to help the lake by cutting down on the amount of phosphorus we use at our house. We changed all of our soaps and stopped fertilizing our lawn with commercial fertilizers. At that time, I didn't take much notice of phosphorus or its effects on the lake. I didn't understand

Simcoe beaches - Water quality

Keeping everything beachy

Published: Sun, Jul 17th, 2005

When Nicole Andison and her family made the decision to move to Barrie three months ago, the city's beaches were a big part of the reason why.

"The house we were in had a pool and the one we moved to in Barrie didn't," says Andison, as she and her two-and-a-half-year-old twins, Alex and Cole, leave Centennial Park. "It was really important for us to have access to water and the waterfront is spectacular. So, we really felt that we would be using the beaches regularly."

While the youngsters are not quite at the swimming stage, they like to play in the sand and walk through the shallow water. They will definitely be regular fixtures on the waterfront this summer, says Andison.

There's no doubt about it, this dry, hot weather has been perfect for swimming and Barrie beaches have been packed on a daily basis.

But this seemingly perfect weather has created some imperfect bathing conditions this year, especially at Centennial Park, Barrie's busiest beach.

While Centennial normally boasts good swimming conditions, city environmental officials say it has more tests that come back with unacceptable levels of bacteria than other city beach.

"We have the most problems at Centennial because of its location," says Melissa Hill, senior environmental officer for the City of Barrie.

"Everything just kind of gets stuck there. I think the make up of (Kempenfelt) Bay and because Centennial is right in the centre of the bay, when the wind is going in the right direction all of the water just kind of pools there."

Run-off from city streets during heavy rain also play a factor, as does the number of bathers, and bird and dog feces. Bacteria such as E. coli is also naturally found in the environment and rests at the bottom of all bodies of water.

"If you have high waves stirring everything up and the water becomes very cloudy then what it does is suspends the E. coli that is found in the sediment," explains Bernie Mayer, manager of the safe water program at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. "After a heavy rainfall and a lot of high wave action, we've got more E. coli being introduced into the water and we're stirring up what's already there."

"We also have fish and other animals that live in the water as well and they're doing their business in the water so that's going to contribute.

Decaying vegetation will also contribute to E. coli."

When Barrie was on the receiving end of near-tornado weather activity and torrential rain on June 9, the result was an approximate two-week closure of Centennial Beach, Minet's Point and Johnson Beach when bacteria levels exceeded 1,000 E. coli per 100 mL of water (the acceptable level is under 100 E. coli per 100 mL of water).

"Not all storm drains empty into the lake but the ones close to downtown empty into the bay," says Mayer.

"It normally doesn't cause a problem but because we had the torrential downpour ... we did have some houses - because of the storm - that had sewage back up and then there is always the potential for some of that getting into the storm drains, as well, and ending up in the lake."

At that time, the bacteria levels at Tyndale, Gable Place and Wilkins Beach were not as elevated but high enough to post advisories.

More recently, (at the time of this paper's editorial deadline) advisory postings for Centennial Beach and Minet's Point were just removed, indicating acceptable levels for swimming after a week of elevated bacteria levels.

"We don't do anything on our part (to change the bacteria levels)," says Hill. "It's just a natural process that kind of flushes itself out and the levels go back to normal. It could be a change in the wind current or wave action stirring everything up. The bacteria levels just kind of level themselves out."

Each Barrie beach has six samples taken every week. Barrie has two co-op students who take a boat out into approximately a metre of water and, using a pole with a plastic bottle at the end, scoop up the water sample. Each of the six samples is taken at different spots. The samples are then sent to the provincial laboratory in Orillia for testing.

"As soon as we get an adverse result, the health unit advises us so we immediately go out and re-sample that location," notes Hill. "If the levels are fine, we test the next week."

The lab analyzes each sample for E.coli bacteria only because it is the most specific indicator of fecal pollution.

If the water sample shows a geometric mean of higher than 100 E. coli, an advisory is posted at the beach that warns the public that there are elevated counts of E. coli and there is a greater chance of an eye, nose or ear infection or gastrointestinal or stomach illness as a result of swimming.

The geometric mean is used rather than a normal arithmetic average because it reduces the biasing effect of occasional extreme readings.

A closure is posted when a catastrophic event occurs or an immediate risk to health is present, such as sewage or chemical spills or a torrential rainstorm.

If you choose to swim during an advisory (you are prohibited from swimming during a closure), avoid ducking your head or swallowing the water, say officials at the health unit.

Unfortunately, Hill often sees people swimming when there is a posting.

"I'm not sure why it is, maybe negligence of not reading the signs. They're a fairly decent size so you can't miss them," she surmises. "I guess if they have kids and they're running towards the water, they're more focused on the water and the kids than if there is a posting."

That excuse doesn't sit well with Andison who says she would not let her two young children swim at a posted beach under any circumstances.

"I think that's actually nuts. I think that it's irresponsible and there's no way I would risk it. There's no way I would let two young kids whose immune systems aren't fully developed to be subjected to that."

If you develop red and itchy eyes, an ear infection or upset stomach after swimming in a lake or river, contact your doctor, advises Mayer.

"There's always the possibility that it could become serious particularly if you get an ear infection. That could lead to other complications, particularly in young children."

Young children are considered more at risk than older children and adults because they are more likely to have their head under water and usually stay in shallow water where the concentration is higher.

The health unit posts beach advisories and closures on its Web site at There is also background information on the Web site that may help determine if you should swim in a particular body of water.

Or, you can call Health Connections at 721-7520.