10 Things to do in Prince Edward County in August 💦
Ack! It’s August! Summer is zooming by. How does this happen every year?
Now – right now! – is the time to really sink into summer, to slow down, read all the trashy books, eat the s’mores, head to the beach, imbibe, indulge and let the heat bug’s song lull you into a trance.
Here are 10 things we recommend for August in The County, to help you do just that.
Jam! Jazz! Jamboree!
If peanut butter and banana sandwiches are your jam, head to Waupoos for the 7th Annual Elvis Festival, where a few outstanding imitations of the showman will put their hips in action while crooning the greatest hits of The King.
At the other end of the musical spectrum is Music at Port Milford, a showcase of orchestral talent from students studying at the four-week intensive program, as well as their instructors. In addition to weekly student performances on Sundays, the Harlem String Quartet will perform Aug 4 and the Port Milford Players (alongside local folk favourite The Frere Brothers) will perform on August 11.
From Aug 14-19, The County will be buzzing with jazz performances, as part of the hugely popular Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. From Dixieland classic to cutting edge modern and everything in between, this festival has something for every jazz fan. Acts to watch out for? Allison Au brings her quartet to the festival on Aug 16 at the Regent Theatre – she’s a saxophonist and the the winner of the Grand Prix de Jazz from last year’s Montreal Jazz Fest and the Sting Ray Rising Star award from the 2017 Halifax Jazz Festival. There will be late night jam sessions with the Adrean Farrugia Trio on Aug 16 and 17, starting at 10 p.m. Oeno Gallery hosts a unique jazz/dance performance in their sculpture garden on Aug 19. And Brian Barlow Big Band closes out the week of performances with a “Miles, Monk & More” show on Aug. 19.
PEC Fest lands August 10-11 at the Milford Fairgrounds for a weekend of classic rock, camping, food, artisan vendors and an open-mic for aspiring rock stars.
Country music will take the stage at The County Jamboree, a weekend of music and camping, featuring OutLaw Tribute Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Revisited, The Reason and many, many more. Shows get underway Aug. 23.
See art imitating life.
The Drawer Boy seems like a play written for a County audience. It’s the story of a Toronto actor who spends his summer in the “boonies” – aka Clinton, Ontario – researching ideas for a show. He meets two brothers – one with a brain injury received in the war – and incorporates overheard snippets of their history into his show. But the performance puts a spotlight on a long-held secret. It’s a story of rewriting and romanticizing the past to cover up ugly realities – a perfect tale for our times. See it as a Festival Players performance from Aug 2-18. (Hot Tip: It’s “draw-er” boy, as in, a boy who draws. Not a boy who lives in a drawer. That’s a different play.)
Cheer on the hot rods.
It’s been immortalized on one of Marc Keelan-Bishop’s iconic County posters, synonymous with fast times in The County’s wild west. It’s Consecon’s classic soap box derby as part of their Community Day on August 4. Build your own gravity-powered hot rod, or try out one from the available fleet. (!) Helmets, footwear and brakes are a must, participants must be at least 7-years-old and willing to do two runs down the hill. Vroom vroom!
Feast on fizzy foods.
Puzzled about pickling? Fomenting for fermenting? Ontario Fermentation Festival, also on August 4, is a day of workshops and demonstrations that will feature Wellpreserved.ca’s Joel MacCharles geeking out on seven different kinds of fermentation (even ice cream?!), Contraband Ferments making soy and non-soy miso and Radical Gut Health talking about how to eat your way to good gut health. Plus, there are a whack of vendors selling kombucha, kefir, jun, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, sourdough, chocolate, dairy- and plant-based cheese, tempeh, tea, coffee and more.
Or sample dozens of another favourite ferment at True North Beer Festival up at Loch Sloy on August 10-11.
See the south shore.
Explore The County’s little known South Shore, strolling from east to west over two days worth of walks, getting up close with the birds, bugs and plants that make this area unique. South Shore is an Important Birding Area, a designation bestowed for the diversity and density of birds spotted there during their migratory journeys across Lake Ontario. Bring your kids, your dog, binoculars, water and a bite to eat!
If you’d like to explore the people and places of the South Shore, consider joining Phil Norton on his next Parts Unknown of PEC tour. Norton is a widely published and award-winning photographer with an eye for the unusual and a panache for meeting characters.
For something the tall and small can enjoy, check out the Flying Nature Hike to get up close to all things with wings on August 13.
Explore The County’s history.
Loch Sloy Business Park, aka the former Camp Picton, trained thousands of young airmen from allied countries during the second World War. They emerged as bombers and gunners, having learned their skills with practice runs out over the lake, aiming at white targets with “bombs” made of coloured powder. Join a walking tour to learn more.
On Friday nights, get covered in goosebumps on the Graveyard and Gallows tour, a 90-minute walking tour through the grounds and graveyard at Macaulay Heritage Park and the neighbouring County jail & gallows, with a guide who’ll bring one of The County’s most notorious double hangings to life.
On Thursdays-Sundays at 11 a.m., step behind the curtain at the Regent Theatre, the Monarch of Picton’s Main Street, to hear more about its history as a vaudeville stage. Take a peek in the green room, head up to the projection room and hear about the woman behind the ticket counter, who once ruled the theatre with an iron fist and a nose for manners.
Or stroll down Picton’s Main Street with a History Lives Here guide, who’ll point out architectural details while spinning yarns about the grand old days of steam ships and canning factories, going back in time to the earliest days of the Loyalist resettlement.
Pack a picnic.
Relive an 1890s lake-side picnic at Lakeshore Lodge, featuring music, games, corn, lemonade, face painting, hay rides and photo opportunities. Don your Victorian duds for the festivities on Aug 16.
Or simply pack your own picnic and head for a few of The County’s historic sites. Ameliasburgh Heritage Village takes visitors back to Edwardian times, with a series of buildings to explore – be sure to stop for their Tea Room Social this month featuring peaches! Rose House Museum requires a bit of a “horn trip,” being located between Waupoos and Cressy, a little further along from The County Cider Company. But it’s a drive worth making to take a closer look at how The County’s early German settlers lived – they even have their own picnic on the go with their Fish Fry on August 11.
In South Bay, the Mariners Heritage Park Museum is a veritable treasure trove of nautical artifacts, with exhibits on rum running, shipwrecks, super test racing and more. Wellington Heritage Museum is a former Quaker meeting place, with a temporary exhibit on County oddities, including a replica of the Fathers of Confederation photo made of apples. It has a new garden. Macaulay Heritage Village also has a gorgeous garden and plenty of green space perfect for picnics. (Feel free to explore during Delhi Day on Aug 12, when there’s free birthday cake in the offing!)
In fact, all the museums make a lovely spot for a picnic, with swings and a fort (with an actual cannon!) for kids to explore at Mariners.
Laugh at the unexpected.
Bloody Marys is a hit improv and sketch comedy duo known for their fast-paced, dramatic and oft gory style. They’re made up of Second City Toronto Mainstage Alumni Kirsten Rasmussen and Leigh Cameron and have appeared in festivals across Canada and the US. This year’s Comedy Country line-up has been killing it, with sold-out shows earning absolute raves, so get down to Athol on Aug. 18 and get your laughs.
Blind Date is a “spontaneous performance,” otherwise known as improv. But this comes in the form of a play. The premise is simple: the main actor calls someone onto the stage – whether dame or bloke or non-binary folk – and proceeds to “date” them. The thrill, of course, is not only seeing the chemistry between the two people on stage, but watching actress and improv master Christy Bruce steer the play where it needs to go. All opposite a performance partner who has no idea of the final destination! Catch it at the Regent Theatre Aug 22-Sept 2.
Move under the moon.
If you like your yoga with a side of oysters and a big cup of booch, get in on the Full Moon Yoga Festival, an into-the-night extravaganza of music, movement and massage. Bonus: yes, there will be hula hoops!
Get wet in Wellington.
We have 800-km of shoreline here in The County; we’re virtually surrounded by water. How would an artist bring to life all that water gives? Wellington Water Week is a new festival, one featuring music, art, performance, dance, food and booze – all of our favourite things! It gets underway on Aug 25 with drumming down by the lake, includes readings and art shows and film screenings, an augmented reality demonstration and a ton of concerts: opera, ensembles, tango and children’s music. The whole thing comes to a crescendo on Aug 31 with a spoken word, song and musical performance featuring Festival Players’ Artistic Director Graham Abbey, Canadian Opera Company Music Director Johannes Debus, renowned Canadian violinist, Elissa Lee and internationally-acclaimed bass (and County resident!) Alain Coulombe.