10 Things to do in Prince Edward County in July 🎆
We like to roll out the green carpet on Canada Day – literally covering a portion Main Street Picton with sod – a bare toes/back to nature moment that kicks off a month of events designed to make the best of summer weather. In between visits to the beach and the ice cream shop, take in live music, theatre lavender and a handful of walking tours meant to bring The County’s history alive.
1. Celebrate Canada Day
If your long weekend checklist includes great food, good music and lots of family-friendly activities, we’ve got you covered from one end of The County to the other. In addition to the usual eats and treats at wineries, cideries, breweries and the distillery, Wellington starts off the celebrations on June 30, with a chicken dinner, street dance and music in the park. On July 1, gussy up your bicycle and head for the Wellington parade, then stick around for a full day of family-friendly entertainment. Or head to Picton for a street party with live entertainment, face painting and a LEGO project – plus that big patch of grass – and a beer garden! On July 2, shore up your appetite and head to Ameliasburgh‘s Roblin Lake for a free community barbecue – sundaes included. All feature fireworks, so get your ooh! ahh! ready.
2. Concerts & Singalongs
The County can be a musical place, with live performances every weekend at The Waring House, The County Canteen, Acoustic Grill, Agrarian Bistro and Stache on Main. On Tuesday nights, Wellington’s Lions Park hosts a summer concert series, and the setting next to the lake and adjacent to the Wellington afternoon market is an absolutely perfect spot for watching the sunset.
On July 12, Festival Players welcomes former Barenaked Ladies front man Steven Page, performing with the Art of Time Ensemble. Page, whose powerful tenor is instantly recognizable, will perform songs by Randy Newman, Radiohead, Elvis Costello, Barenaked Ladies, Leonard Cohen and Page himself, among others. As Festival Players notes: “These gems are re-imagined and reinvented by some of Canada’s greatest writers in classical, pop, and jazz, and delivered by a defining voice in contemporary rock.”
If you prefer instrumental music, the St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton welcomes the Tokai Quartet on July 21 and the Quatuor Saguenay on July 28. The Tokai Quartet is one of Canada’s leading string quartets, while the internationally renowned Quatuor Saguenay features a playlist including Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Debussy, Borodin, and others.
If your musical leanings are more of the immersive variety, join Choir! Choir! Choir! at the Hayloft Dancehall on July 20. Equal parts performance and community building, participants are handed sheet music on the way in and learn the song and its arrangement through the evening, leading up to a performance that’s captured on video. It’s guaranteed to lift the spirits.
3. Instagram Your Way Through the Lavender Festival
Closson Road is always a hive of activity, given that it’s home to the highest density of wineries and attractions in The County. But on July 7-8, a village worth of people will travel the road on their way to the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm, where visitors can walk among the waving rows of purple and pink blossoms as part of the 7th Annual Lavender Festival. Watch the bees work their magic or see how essential oils are steamed from the plants on-site. Try the lavender gelato, chocolate or shortbread – all are divine.
4. Surround Yourself in Art
Art is always on offer in The County – pick up our popular Arts Trail guide for a choose-your-own-adventure through restored carriage houses, glassblowing workshops, heritage barns, a re-purposed chicken coop and a few home studios. You’ll find photographs, paintings, jewellery, fibre arts, pottery, glass works and more.
Or stop in at the Wellington Town Hall on July 7-8 for The Group of Sevenish Salon, a monthly showcase of painting, photography and sculpture from area artists.
For the finest of County art, check out the juried art exhibit, Art in the County, until July 8 in its new location at The Armoury on Main Street Picton – show entrance from the rear on Mary Street! Artworks in a wide range of media are showcased, including watercolour, acrylic, oil and encaustic paintings, sculpture, fibre, wood, photography, ceramics, glass and more. This is a signature art event of the summer season and the 25th anniversary!
Or you can literally surround yourself in art, at the Prince Edward County Quilt Guild’s “A Stitch in Time” show, featuring nearly 300 quilts handcrafted by County quilters – this devoted blog writer among them. Quilting is experiencing a renaissance (I swear!) popping up on catwalks and fashion ads. On July 7-8, see the artistry that goes into creating an heirloom.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Studio Tour, artists and writers have been paired up for a County CollAboRaTion. Artists submitted an image of one of their creations, and the writers composed an ekphrastic response to the art – ‘ekphrasis’ meaning a vivid, often dramatic, description of an artwork. Drop into Bloomfield Town Hall on July 13-14 and vote for your favourite.
5. Walk It Off
‘Hanged. 1884. Unjustly.’ These words were recently found scribbled onto a pauper’s grave in tribute to one of the men hanged after a grisly 1884 murder trial in Picton. He was accused of killing a hops farmer during a botched robbery – but the evidence was far from clear. Hear more about the haunting Lazier trial and The County’s history at the Graveyard & Gallows tour, leaving from Macaulay Heritage Park on Friday nights.
Or take a historic walking tour of downtown Picton and relive the heady days of tall ships, sail and steam, when the community was a major shipping port exporting its timber and agricultural produce to world markets. Hear stories from the 1830s, when John A. Macdonald was a scrappy young lawyer here. And later, when we smuggled booze across Lake Ontario during the dangerous days of the rum-running trade. Twice-daily tours leave on weekends from the Regent Theatre.
Loch Sloy – aka Camp Picton – was one of 151 British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) schools established across Canada between 1940-1945. It produced 131,553 aircrew, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for allied forces around the globe. Today, the barracks, hangars and mess halls are being painstakingly restored, becoming home to a wide variety of businesses, from a yoga studio to a custom bridal shop to roofing and electrician’s offices. Tour the site July 9 or 20 (other dates through the summer as well!) and hear about its history, the young men who trained here and the vital role it played in preparing allied troops for battle.
On July 14, discover the natural and human history of a remote corner of Prince Edward County on a guided walk around Long Point Harbour to the historic Point Traverse Lighthouse. The 30-minute walk, led by historian Marc Seguin and naturalist Amy Bodman, travels through the forest bordering meadows and wetlands and goes past the century-old fishing camp to the lighthouse, built in 1881 and recently designated as national heritage site. Learn why this area was known by mariners as “the graveyard of Lake Ontario.” Bring your binoculars and camera!
Herbalist Tamara Segal will lead a walk on July 25 along the Wellington section of the Millennium Trail, pointing out (and sampling) some of the wild edible and medicinal plants growing in Prince Edward County. Tamara runs Hawthorn Herbals, a fixture at the Wellington Market, featuring wild infused herbal products.
Every Sunday from 1.30-2 p.m., take a guided walk around Oeno Gallery’s Sculpture Garden at Huff Estates. The garden covers four acres of winding paths and features thoughtful – and often playful – outdoor sculptures by more than 60 Canadian artists.
Or get out and about (in a vehicle) with photographer/guide Phil Norton as he leads a four-hour Parts Unknown tour of the remote South Shore. Bring binoculars, if you can, and a camera or smart phone for sure because Phil will be introducing you to hidden gems and the authentic people, places and wildlife of this unique part of the Great Lakes region.
6. Laugh It Up
Four of Toronto’s hottest new comics – Vance Banzo, Guled Abdi, Tim Blair and Franco Nguyen – come together as TALLBOYZ II MEN to perform as part of Comedy Country’s summer series. Fresh off their performance at the TOSketchFest, they’ll perform two shows with the County’s artisanal sketch comedy troupe, “Taste That.” The first is a literal stand-up show, taking over the patio space at 555 Brewing Co. The second will take place in the more intimate Mount Tabor Theatre. The series has been selling out and earning rave reviews – that’s your nudge for advance tickets!
Bruce Dow – national treasure with impeccable comedic timing – debuts his new cabaret, Funny Proposition, as part of the Festival Players 2018 line up. This one-man-musical is fearless, intimate and energetic. Join a poor, lost soul on the highway of life as he comes face to face with those events we can never expect. A Funny Proposition runs July 26-28 and is funny, touching, and full of song.
7. To Market, To Market
Farmers’ Markets are traditionally a place to gossip with neighbours sample and buy the freshest produce available – and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to do just that in The County. On Saturday mornings, Sunday afternoons and Tuesday evenings, Wellington’s market offers produce, pizza, pottery, jewellery, fries, fresh fish, fashion and more. Saturday’s County Up market in Picton has boho fashion, bread, bowls, barbecue and big vats of slime – which is particularly popular with the half-pint crowd! The Milford Fairgrounds hosts a quintessential country market on Saturdays, with fruits and vegetables, crafts, photography, live music and more. And a new Sandbanks Summer Market, at West Lake Community Church, features local vendors, delicious food, a picnic shelter, live music, children’s play area, face painting and more.
Bring your mesh bags and get your shop on.
8. Sip & Sample
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the wine-making facilities at Sandbanks Estate Winery on July 21-22, with barrel tastings and food pairings. Mobile food vendors will be serving up some delicious local fare, making it an immersive culinary experience. Live music from a local artist will be filling the air full of song.
Or put on your Sunday best for the Tea Room Social at Ameliasburgh Heritage Museum – the theme this month is Raspberries and Blueberries!
9. Hit The Beach in Your Bathing-Costume
While you’re scanning the skin on display on the shores of Sandbanks, do you ever wonder what beach-goers were wearing 125 years ago, when Ontario first created provincial parks? What would they have been wearing at Algonquin in 1893? At Bon Echo at the turn of the century… or Sandbanks in the roaring ’20s? Check out a fashion through the ages display at Sandbanks on July 26 and heave a sigh that even in these sun-conscious times, your swimming costume does not include a cravat.
And since this is the 125th anniversary of provincial parks, keep in mind that on July 20, day use entry to all provincial parks is free as part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People campaign. In The County, that includes Sandbanks, North Beach and Lake on the Mountain. How lucky are we!
10. Appreciate Indigenous Art
This year, Macaulay Heritage Park will introduce a permanent exhibit on the area’s Indigenous history, recognizing that The County is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, adjacent to Wendat and Anishnaabeg territories, and to the Kanien’keha:ka community of Tyendinaga.
To mark the coming exhibit, the museum is hosting an Indigenous Artists’ Exhibition & Sale beginning July 28. Participating artists from the region will display or sell paintings, photography, sculpture, fibre art, beadwork, prints, art cards, flutes, rattles, leatherwork, calligraphy and recorded music.