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Long-running festival celebrates creativity, families, and a sense of place

The trend toward slow tourism is being embraced by the arts community, as more and more professional artists and performers take up a related activity: slow touring.

“Slow touring means not just coming to town, doing a show, then leaving,” says Gayle Dempsey, co-founder of Muskoka Chautauqua. “It’s about staying for a while, presenting workshops, collaborating with local artists, getting to know the people and the place.”

“In many ways, that’s what Chautauqua has always done,” says co-founder Gary Froude. “It just wasn’t called slow touring.”

The Muskoka Chautauqua Arts and Culture Festival takes place in Windermere from August 2 to 11. It’s a chance for year-round and seasonal residents to take part in an astonishing variety of events, and for musicians, writers, visual artists, and more to share ideas, perform, teach, and learn.

“It’s a celebration of the arts, but also of this place,” says Gary. Events take place on the shores of Lake Rosseau and throughout the charming village. There’s also a large focus on events that bring generations together: many are perfect for seniors and their grandchildren alike.

There are concerts by Errol Blackwood and Friends, with a special Reggae Roots show and a wide variety of local musicians, including Po Cholly, Beverlie Robertson, and more. There are interactive sessions of forest bathing, drumming, yoga, and sound bathing. Workshops include pottery, harmonica, cellphone photography, and a whole range of painting techniques.

Literature has been a big part of Muskoka Chautauqua since the 1920s. The annual Muskoka Chautauqua Reading List features 11 books by local and international authors, many of whom will attend the festival. Journalist and Order of Canada member Roy MacGregor will discuss the literary process; Nancy Beal and Alex Tilley will present her biography of the noted entrepreneur; renowned economist Stephen Stigler will discuss his latest book, Casanova’s Lottery; local historian Patrick Boyer will speak on his latest book about Muskoka in the 1920s.

“We’re also very excited to help bring back the Windermere Family Fun Day,” says Gayle. This popular community event features beach games, musical performances, kayak racing, arts and crafts, a waterski show and a community barbeque. “It went into hiatus for a few years and is returning with new energy and enhanced community involvement.”

“It’s a perfect cap to a festival, which is all about bringing people together, whatever their backgrounds, and celebrating creativity and our place on the planet.”

www.MuskokaChautauqua.com

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