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Wainfleet Marshville Festival

Wainfleet Marshville Festival

The Marshville Festival in Wainfleet is one of the few Niagara festivals that I travel annually to attend. The original charm of the festival is that they don't run it for tourism, they run it for the residents of Wainfleet. That local focus has made it into one of the best festivals in Niagara. Running from August 31st to September 2nd, 2013 at the Wainfleet Arena, Wainfleet Library, and Wainfleet Fairgrounds - which are all the same place. The three major highlights are the food, culture, and music - all essential elements of an amazing party.

Great Food - Harvest Season in Full Swing

Early September is prime time for fresh food in rural Ontario, get great deals and feed the whole family without all of the work. Any festival can have fried food and ice cream, the Marshville Festival is special for its pies and other "slow-food" choices. Pie is an anytime food, and the variety of pies at the Marshville Heritage Festival is representative of southern Ontario's multiculturalism and ethnic past. Try the best French, German, and British style pies alongside some modern favourites.

Craft Fair and Art Displays

Rural life seems to inspire the residents of Wainfleet to craft high quality products and art pieces. Wood, wool, and wicker take centre stage as traditional crafts are promoted and exhibited during the Marshville Festival. The entire event is a boon for Instagram and Pinterest users who have become the front line for promoting the appreciation and application of these craft styles.

Folk Music and Live Bands

At first I didn't understand or appreciate folk music and some older forms of country music. Experiencing the performances live with an audience that appreciated the music built my appreciation level for folk music. Bring a folding chair though, it can get pretty cramped on the old bleachers and logs around the bandshell.

More Information - http://www.marshvilleheritagefestival.com/

Top 10 Niagara Area Blogs

Top 10 Niagara Area Blogs

News in Niagara can be dominated by The Tribune, The Standard, and The Review since Niagara This Week got rid of all of its public RSS feeds and disappeared from Google News. Look beyond the mainstream media and go with a mix of these local blogs to keep you in the loop. I'll post another article about the must-follow facebook and Twitter accounts next week.

Niagara at Large - Doug Draper

Doug Draper is a news reporter with a new mission. His Niagara at Large news organization brings together local activists, dissidents, and leaders through a unified and predominantly unfiltered channel. It is worth adding the whole site to an RSS reader for daily use.

Erie Media - Dave Johnson

Another traditional newspaper writer that has made a name for himself online and through new media. Also follow his account @davejthetribune on Twitter for some of the details that never make it to print.

Laura the Raptor

Most people know Laura through the Niagara Comics scene. Follow Laura on Tumblr if you want to be happy.

Carkebe of Welland

One of the newest blogs on the list. Carkebe has been a frequent commentator and posted through loal news agencies and has an opinion about everything. Pay attention to her "Cheap Tricks" section that details how to get more from big-box stores like Shoppers and Walmart.

Niagara Deal Diva

For half a decade the "Hotel Deal Diva" has been a mixture of the decadent travel world and then the local/fresh/active world inside Niagara. While there have been multiple diva contributors the project is operated by the very non-public Diva of Niagara. Unfortunately you can't tell when it is an agency posting or when it is a legit contributor - unlike QMI posts in Sun Media.

Access Niagara Blog

Written by another semi-anonymous Niagara Falls Blogger, Graham. The Access Niagara Blog collects all of the need-to-know local events and deals in one easy to read RSS Feed. The website itself is a little loaded with advertisements and social sharing buttons, very user-hostile. Get the latest from the amazing content instead.

YourBrock.org - OPIRG Brock University

While I'm glad that OPIRG is involved with the community their new blog has drifted from OPIRG-Brock news to St.Catharines community news. This mission crawl is why it belongs on the list of top ten Niagara blogs. The working groups affiliated with OPIRG represent Niagara area leaders in poverty reduction and future-oriented thinking.

James Takeo - Black Lantern Guru

James is not a traditional blogger. His messages are split between social media, his blog, his Twitter account, and anything new and interesting. The most important stories tend to eventually make it to his wordpress blog, making it a worthwhile addition to your favourite RSS reader.

Hughes and Co. - Allie Hughes

Allie Hughes doesn't have a dedicated blog space although her business Hughes and Co does a great job of sharing need to know brand marketing strategies that work as well for Proctor and Gamble as the do for Niagara area non-profit groups. If you're a leader in NIagara and Allie isn't on your list of people to know then add her today.


I am unilaterally adding myself to this list because this blog has been useful to a number of people. Saving money, connecting IRL, and getting the most out of life. Not that anyone should consider me to be a life coach or motivational speaker. I'm just posting what I want to share.

Black Lantern Experience

The Black Lantern Experience is a series of events hosted by some of Welland's top practicing artists. These are the residents of Welland that make a living and build their communities through artistic pursuits.

Gallery on Main - James Takeo

The new Art Gallery at 75 West Main St. has no posted hours, no website, and no marketing budget and still managed to pack more people in than any other Art Gallery in Welland during their events. This is the direct result of strong word of mouth campaigns preceding events. James Takeo also takes this personal approach during private showings and his weekly DIY Art nights. Bring your own equipment and ideas on Tuesday nights at 9pm and you can participate in the growing art scene at the Gallery on Main.

James Takeo - https://www.facebook.com/james.takeo

Humbled Hallows - Michael Swords

Self-proclaimed "Junk Artist" Michael Swords has a knack for taking the mundane and transforming it into something new. His creations take on a passion or gloom based on the season and state of the artist during its re-creation. Mike's home studio, Humbled's Hallows, is a second hand store for antiquities and reconditioned products with flair.

Humbleds Hallows - https://www.facebook.com/HumbledsHallows

Artfest Welland - Domenic Augustino

Artfest Welland is the original exhibition of artistic talents in downtown Welland. It is a unique and affordable way for artists to gain access to a public venue for exhibition and sales. Remember to talk to artists about other upcoming events of theirs where similar artists from outside of Welland will share their works. One example of this is the South Niagara Artists Studio Tour held on August 10th and 11th, 2013, which has very little online exposure (visit http://www.SouthNiagaraArtists.ca and change that).

Artfest Welland - http://www.artfestwelland.com/

Welland Culture Day 2013

Welland Culture Day 2013

Welland Culture Day is the largest Culture Days event in the Niagara Region. Months of planning and community outreach started from scratch this year as the organizing committee met outside of the Welland Arts and Culture Committee.

Featured Exhibitors

The 2013 Featured Exhibitors include visual artists, musicians, welders, and more. For some of these exhibitors it will be their third year attending the Welland Culture Day. This event also acts as a springboard for involvement as artists become leaders and planners for local events that are similar to WCD.

See More - http://www.wellandcultureday.com/featured-exhibitors

Media Partners

Welland is very lucky to have local access to nearly a dozen local radio stations and a little under ten local newspapers (owned by a select few companies). The Welland Culture Day is supported by Giant FM the only radio station that receives mail in Welland. Then Niagara This Week should be on-site through the media partnership that Culture Days Canada has with Torstar, their parent company. People often ask "why have I not heard of this event?" - typically those people just need to turn on the radio and pop online to NiagaraThisWeek.com to find out.

Giant FM - http://www.giantfm.com/
Niagara This Week - http://www.niagarathisweek.com/welland-on/

Every Year is Unique

Since culture is constantly changing as new artists and musicians develop their talent this year will be a one-of-a-kind experience. I'm looking forward to seeing how new artists connect with locals that have experience and appreciation.

Find out more about Culture Days at http://www.culturedays.ca

Biometrics and Brain Training

Biometrics and Brain Training

I'd like to share three tools that I've been learning about that have huge potential as part of an integrated platform of software. Lumosity, FitBit, and Pinterest are the three most interesting tools on my mind this week.

Lumosity and Brain Training

Sure this may be another gimmick like the Nintendo DS Brain Age games, I'm not here to argue about the effectiveness of such tests. the testing part is impressive because it reminds me to gather myself and concentrate early in the morning. We have hundreds of physical routines, and with Lumosity the mind is treated as a part of that system.

FitBit with Sleep and Heart Rate Tracking

Recently I've been introduced to the FitBit technology by some of my friends. This amazing technology tracks steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns. The sleep tracking is arguably the most impressive feature due to the importance of sleep. Without a good nights rest people are less productive and prone to respond negatively to event the slightest agitation. Knowing when can lead to knowing why, and knowing why is the most important change in how we diagnose medical issues.

Unfortunately the FitBit isn't readily available in Canadian stores. A quick trip to New York or a long wait for online shipping are the only barriers to joining this technological revolution.

Pinterest Quotes and Humour Boards

After covering the mind and the body - the soul immediately comes to mind. Not the religious soul, this would be the special combination of wit, mantra, and meaning that people add through contextual relationships and language.

Pinterest succeeds where many other social networks have failed - in major part due to a strong and committed user base that doesn't attempt to change the function of the site. Pinterest is perfect.

See for yourself - http://www.pinterest.com/kurtismccartney

Epic Adventure Weekend

Greater Niagara Circle Route - Epic Adventure Weekend

The first persistently warm weekend of 2013 was another great time to get outdoors in Welland, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Port Colborne.

Welland Farmers Market with Seasonal Vendors

I've been making a weekly trek to the Welland Farmers Market in order to familiarize myself with the fresh and local food suppliers. The Welland Farmers Market is housed in two permanent buildings right in the heart of downtown Welland. There is an amazing meat market in the older building. Miki's Smokehouse has made their return to the Welland Farmers Market and I'd like to invite anyone that likes authentic Hungarian fare to like Mikis on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mikis.ca

Birthday Celebrations in St.Catharines

My girlfriend Alie Balan invited me to join her family in celebrating her mothers birthday a week earlier than usual. Typically the event overlaps mothers day, although this year is her 60th birthday and her only daughters wanted to make it better than the usual. The real surprise was running into one of my co-workers fiancee - recently engaged. After all of the pleasant exchanges there was plenty of time to dig in and catch up with everyone.

Later in the evening there was a huge fire a couple blocks away from the park that we took Alies nephew to play.

Greater Niagara Circle Route - Epic Canalside Journey

Sunday morning I was feeling a little guilty about the greasy food from the previous night and decided to go for a stroll and a stretch. By the time I made it to Downtown Welland I thought it would be great to spend more time outdoors and walk alongside the canal. I set my sights on getting to Port Colborne. It has been years since I had a real canalside adventure on the Greater Niagara Circle Route.

Along the way I tried to get some of the cycling types in on it by suggesting a DQ end point. Ran into tandem cyclists, rowers, a dirt bike event, and plenty of pedestrians. Once in Port Colborner I left the Greater Niagara Circle Route to be greeted by a steady stream of motorcycles running along Main Street. It was a great finish - although it was a little sad that there were no takers on the DQ offer. After a powernap in Lock 8 park it was time to head back to Welland with the help of Alie who needed a break from her cosplay work.

NHL Playoffs on CBC Toronto

CBC Toronto has completely shifted its evening program schedule over to the NHL Playoffs and rather that protest it has been much more enjoyable. The evenings were a great time to use the BBQ and get everyone together for the big game. Unfortunately for the Montreal Canadiens fans the Sunday night event was a bust. There will be plenty of additional opportunities to see the playoffs play out.

It was an Epic Adventure Weekend.

Perfect Moments

I've been experiencing a series of perfect moments. The perfect moments where all of the problems find their solutions, everyone is in a state of celebration, and the tension of daily life is gone. This is a felling that currently carries across a half-dozen of the communities I'm involved with in Niagara. The only common point that I'm finding is myself therefore I'm doing something right - everyone can be happy.

Welland Cultural Development
In the Welland area the organizations that I've been working with are prepared for the sweeping changes and new opportunities. New parade routes, new equipment, and new partnerships. Celebrations are in order.

On Friday April 26th one of those celebrations took place at Humbled Hallows. One of the first art and poetry shows at the venue took place - a modern day forum or salon which inspired many that attended. I also managed to score some art for an extremely low price.

Niagara Falls Success Stories
In Niagara Falls the businesses and non-profit groups have been reporting success on nearly all fronts. More members, guests, sales, volunteers, and much more - it is as though the warm weather brought with it some success. I'll be celebrating that success again on Sunday April 28th at the Niagara Food and Wine Expo. Big thanks to the Above and Beyond Cupcakes for getting the word out about the event.

Online and in Business - Worthy Challenges
Online I've been inspired to try another project. It has been over a year since the last Zen Alliance / ARIDARIA client cleared the server and there are plenty of system resources left for some new projects. The first is a donation to the Welland Culture Day Planning Committee, which recently invited me to reach out to the community to establish an online and offline presence for them. The next big project is something that has been sorely needed in Niagara, something that could bridge different communities and develop standards for success. Both of these are projects that I cannot do by myself - I hope to be working with a Giant in the local marketing world to reach the last mile.

I know that perfect moments can be a calm before the storm. This storm is going to be worth the wait.

Welland Needs People

King Street Welland Ontario

Now that I'm getting back into volunteering there is one persistent issue that nearly every organization seems to have a problem with - getting people involved. I dealt with many of the same issues at Brock University as a student leader during the inception of Facebook and while learning from past leaders that had to constantly compete with the home media revolution. This is a battle with two fronts. The first and most pressing issue is the communications divide between older groups that didn't embrace technology or stunted their own community online by delivering only to the existing member base. The other is what I call apathy, this runs the spectrum from those that don't care to those that cannot find the time due to one-sided recreational commitments.

Getting Welland Online - Agency

There are hundreds of web developers and would-be internet heroes in Welland, there is no lack of skill. In Welland there are issues regarding agency and value in web development. Very few older groups are willing to allow the young and technologically proficient members take the lead on a web based project due to the risk associated with publishing materials online. Among the groups that have allowed semi-proficient older members to take the lead there have been issues regarding privacy, urgency, and accountability.

The solution is usually for admins to get over themselves. There are always new outreach channels and none of them are inferior to the last. Allow younger members to take the lead on a project and sign on as an executive in the organization. Many groups have their secretary publish a newsletter - create an additional position that covers taking the publications of the secretary to a group website, facebook page, or any other web platform that your group could find new members in. If it exists on paper then it needs to exist online.

By making them an agent of the organization there will be a legal liability to their actions and a drive to complete projects rather than being the person that always recommends then never delivers.

Television and Apathy in Welland

Apathy is a spectrum disorder in the volunteer community and among all of the remaining clubs. In terms of time commitments the vast major of members are still spending more time in front of the television, tablet, or monitor than they are in any non-screen based recreational activities.

The solution is involvement and fostering a local-first mentality. Welland lacks 24-hour meeting spaces and other elements found in developed communities that need to drive up membership. These public commons allow the television and ipod-social masses to take the first step while remaining connected. Cut the cable, establish shut-down times, and plan your media consumption ahead of time. After going cold turkey on television you may find that you prefer to get your news through SMS-pushed twitter feeds or through a small radio. Breaking the television habit is viable for all skill levels.

Get a Calendar - Then Add These

Welland needs people, this includes the people that are already involved to come out to our signature events.

Visit the weekly Farmers Market, you are a short walk away from the Welland Historical Museum. Go there.

The Welland Museum is a short walk away from the Community Wellness Complex. The Community Wellness Complex will be host to the Welland Culture Day on September 28th, 2013. Go there.

The Welland Rose Festival will start on June 1st, 2013 with the opening ceremonies being held at Memorial Park all day long. The Rose Fest will end on June 23rd, 2013 with the Welland Rose Parade going from the Welland Farmers Market to Memorial Park in Welland. Go there.

3D Images of Niagara

3DS Test Image from Welland Museum

I'm finally putting together a set of images from around Niagara and will be testing their display on the site and with 3D devices over the next couple of months.

3D Images and video may have been a bit of a fad from the last couple of years - most of this is due to the fact that few media pieces exist for these devices. Just in case that changes there will be plenty of Niagara history available to the future.

I'm made the main image one of my MPO images renamed to jpg and I've attached a raw MPO to this post so that users can get an unedited version of the file.

Binary Data HNI_0088.mpo112.83 KB

Winter in Niagara Falls - Four Great Local Draws

Niagara Falls Winter by phawr

This is the second year of making the daily trek to Niagara Falls each day. There are many interesting things to do in Niagara Falls for visitors, unfortunately for the local crowd some of the best and cheapest activities remain seasonal.

Frijoles Fresh Mex

Between the pricey dishes and the random fees most of Niagara Falls is a bust for people looking to save a dime, plenty of value for those that have time and money. Frijoles is the solution, Fresh is in the name. One burrito is enough for almost anyone, one burrito is equivalent in filling value to a footlong sub from one of the sandwich shops. Except you will never experience the spicy madness of the Scotch Bonnet Tin Sauce at a sandwich chain. Frijoles is worth the trip to Niagara Falls on its own.

Scenic Route to Welland

I drive to Welland in the dark each night in the Winter, the darkness becomes friendly and the glow of the three major cities has been a simple pleasure. This year has been interesting as the Welland glow has changed colour to match the new streetlamps. Just stop by Welland for some beer and wings this winter and compare the different glow of each city from the dark countryside.

Niagara Falls Cineplex

Even in the dead of Winter the Cineplex is the biggest draw for locals on the south side of Niagara Falls. Located on the same grounds as the Niagara Square Mall, which is experiencing an extended slow period due to slow development in the land around the mall. In Niagara the Cineplex in Niagara Falls is among the cleanest and most spacious of cinemas, although it comes at a cost. Admission to the Seaway Cinemas in Welland are typically between 10% to 30% cheaper, although that is to a flat floor cinema facility. As anyone that frequents a Cineplex Odeon facility knows the Tuesday night discount makes the cinema experience a little easier on the pocket book.

Niagara Falls Festival of Lights on the Cheap

I'll admit that much of the tourism in Niagara Falls is an effort to exchange amusement for money. This pushes the question 'what if the amusement were free?' The answer is simple - it was free already. While the drive up the Niagara Parkway may not be as stunning as seeing the city covered in snow from the Skywheel it is a little over $10 per person cheaper. Each year I make it a point to do a 'lights off' run through Dufferin Islands, the park that has dozens of trees wrapped in mesh lighting. This can be troublesome with some of the other vehicles plowing through the park with their high beams on and it would be nice to see a notice asking for some courtesy. Did I mention this is free? The good volunteers have made this free for a very long time - take at least a quarter of that money you saved and donate it to keep this tradition alive.

Would like to post more, but four is the limit for now. Try these local activities and save some money to pay off debts before interest rates go up.


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