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US: Benson, NC – A Celebration For Farmer’s Best Friend – the Mule

The small town of Benson, North Carolina, with a population of around 3500, will swell to approximately 30,000 come September 21-24, 2017 when the 68th Annual Benson Mule Days Celebration, which honors the farmer’s best friend, the mule, is Benson Mule Days 2017-09-13_12-54-40sponsored by the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce.

This festival is filled with family fun and activities for everyone young and old. The weekend is packed with rodeos, a mule pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping, parades, bluegrass shows and more.

Friday, visitors can enjoy many events including the Mule Competitions held in the Chamber Park and Arena. They will see mule coon jumping, a mule race, Best of Show and many other events.  If you haven’t seen a mule competition this is a must see for the whole family.Benson_Mule_Days

Saturday is a big day at Benson Mule Days as thousands of spectators grapple for a place to sit or stand to observe the one of the biggest parades in North Carolina. Bands, floats, Shriner units, classic cars, antique tractors, unique entries, beauty queens, and hundreds of horses, mules, buggies, wagons make their way down Main Street of Benson beginning at 10am.

There are three rodeos of which the first begins on Friday night followed by a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon performance. A new event this year are Mule Day Dances. After the rodeos on Friday and Saturday nights, kick up your heels at the Chamber Park.Benson_Mule_Days_ Horses3

Get a complete schedule of events- here

Location: Various – see schedule
Date: Sept 21-24, 2017
Hours: Various – see schedule
Tel: 919-894-3825
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: johnstoncountync.org

US: New Smyrna Beach, FL: Jamaican Rhythms at New Smyrna Beach’s Reggae Festival

Yeah Mon’- Don’t worry ’bout a thing, cause every little thing’s, gonna be alright at the annual New Smyrna Beach Reggae Festival, celebrating everything Reggae and Island on June 16 – 18, 2017.Reggae -Group

Over a dozen acts are set citywide for the musical weekend commemorating one of America’s most popular music genres, everything from classic reggae to new Island rhythms. The weekend includes multiple band meet and greets and plenty of free giveaways. And best yet – every performance is free – no cover charge, though some locations do have a minimum age admission of 21 years.

Reggae Band Love TribeNo need to set sail for the Caribbean, plan to attend this festival and Jamaica will be brought right to you. Sit back, relax and enjoy the variety of performances at numerous locations throughout New Smyrna Beach.New-SmyrnaBeachReggaeMusicFestival2

Location: Flagler Ave, New Smyrna Beach, 32169
Dates: June 16, 2017 – June 18, 2017
Time: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tel: 800-541-9621
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: nsbfla.com

US: Newburyport, MA – Reptiles, Comedy Juggler, Flash Mob, Drumming and Art at Newburyport’s 2-Day Fest

Celebrate the season at historic Newburyport Spring Festival, a tradition upheld for over 30 years on Memorial Day Weekend.  Enjoy great live music, art, fine crafts, activities for kids, and food from Newburyport’s outstanding restaurants at this 2-day FREE festival featuring entertainment for the whole family -rain or shine. Springfest Group SittingDSC_0022

Sunday -Entertainment
10:30am-11:15am in Market Square -Bryson Lang – Comedy Juggler – audiences will see a family-friendly show and an energetic personality performing inventive and clever routines that mix comedy, audience participation, ball spinning, flying sombreros, ball bouncing, fire-juggling, well-crafted timing, huge spinning bouncing rings, giant Beach Balls, improv, and a few surprises.Springfest Crafters 71

10am, 12pm, and 2pm -Theater in the Open – Flash Mob on Inn Street

Live Music
1pm – 4pm  Live Music in Market Square 617 Band – Covering your favorite party and dance hits!

11pm, 1pm, 3pm – 30 min sets on Inn Street – Zach Field Drum Studio

“Emerging at Any Age” – A group of Newburyport’s finest senior artists from just starting out to artists that have had long careers in art. Gallery will be on Pleasant Street.

Monday Entertainment
Kids Entertainment from 10:30-11:30am in Market Square – Reptile Show
Come and meet some of the friendliest reptiles in New England. Brought to you by Zoo Creatures/New England Reptile, they will teach you about some most impressive animals. From giant snakes to prehistoric lizards, you can learn, touch, hold and hug.

Live Music in Market Square
Eagle in the Attic – Newburyport band performing Springfest Bridge Band 14

Location: Downtown Newburyport, Market Square, Newburyport, MA 01950
Date: Sun  May 28 – Mon May 29, 2017
Hours: 10am – 5pm
Tel: 978-462-6680
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: newburyportchamber.org

US: Wilmington, DE – Lush Brandywine Valley Cycling Grand Prix and Street Fair

Named among the Top 10 criterium bike races in the country by USA Cycling, the Wilmington Grand Prix will celebrate its 11th anniversary May 19-21, 2017. Grand Prix - Closeup-Men's Pro WGP 2014-9577

This international cycling event includes a free six-block street festival, a parade, a bucket-list recreational ride through a dozen world-class cultural attractions, sidewalk cafes, live music, demonstrations and a variety of free family rides and attractions.

The action starts Friday night (May 19) with the Monkey Hill Time Trial, a 3.2-mile race against the clock through Wilmington’s Brandywine Park. Saturday (May 20) will feature two amateur races in the morning, culminating with the Women’s Pro and Men’s Pro races in the afternoon. Sunday (May 21) will see the return of the Seventh Annual Governor’s Ride and the Sixth Annual Delaware Gran Fondo. Last year’s Gran Fondo attracted cyclists from 15 states and three countries by offering them a scenic tour through the Brandywine Valley and some of Delaware’s most-prized cultural attractions. Grand Prix -Men's Pro WGP 2014-9556

You do not have to be a cycling fan to enjoy Downtown Wilmington’s largest outdoor event. Visit website for more information and schedule. Enjoy lunch and watch the races with a table right on the course. This event is held rain or shine.

Location: Downtown Wilmington, 818 Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19801
Dates: May 19-21, 2017
Hours: May 19 – 5 pm—8 pm, May 20 – 11 am —5 pm, May 21 – 8 am —5 pm
Tel: 302-655-6483
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitwilmingtonde.com

US: North Haven, CT – Medieval Faire with Jousting, Fairy Magic, Armored Combat, Music, and Merry Men

Walk into a medieval  fairytale and experience what a spring festival might have been like in 12th century Nottingham England. Fantasy takes flight when you step back to the past at Robin Hood’s Faire. Witness singing, dancing and magic throughout the faire, listen to old world music performed live on stage and in the streets and watch Robin Hood and his Merry Men stop Prince John’s villainy.Robin Hood's Faire- Night

This amusing and colorful festival offers continuous themed entertainment throughout the day and some special events including:  The Mayor of Nottingham’s Bingo Brunch, Princess Tea Time, Archery & Archery Tag, Opening Ceremony, Daily Tournaments, Paragon Jousting, parade, Prince John’s Plot and join the Merry Men interactive show. For a complete schedule of events: robinhoodsfaire.com/shops-and-crafts/show-information/show-schedule/

The Faire has featured weekends, with activities geared to themes:

May 13, 14 – Pet Weekend– Open up a whole new world for your pet when you attend Robin Hood’s Faire “Pet Weekend”. Participate in daily contests with your pet to win prizes or just watch shows, shop, and enjoy the day. robinhoodsfaire.com/may-13-14-pet-weekend/
May 20-21 – Fantasy & Fairies Weekend- Anything is possible with fairy magic as visitors from a variety of places and times are pulled from the future and past to Robin Hood’s Faire. Come as you are or consider dressing as a fairy or play someone from history or the future. robinhoodsfaire.com/fantasy-fairy-weekend-may-20-21/
May 27, 28, 29 – Bromance & Brew Weekend-What could be better than hanging out with your guy friends, competing against each other in manly contests, and sharing a cold craft brew? Guys will enjoy this weekend and  ladies, Sunday is a vow renewals with Friar Tuck.  robinhoodsfaire.com/bromance-brew-weekend-may-27-28-29/

Robin Hood’s Faire runs every Saturday, Sunday, and Memorial Day from May 13-29, 2017 (11 am to 7pm). Tickets to the festival are available at the Faire on all days of the show. All food, drink, and games are cash only. Robin Hood's Faire- Group

Location: North Haven Fairgrounds, 300 Washington Ave, North Haven, CT 06473
Dates: May 13 — 29, opened Sat, Sun & Memorial Day
Hours: 11– 7pm
Tel: 860-478-5954
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitnewhaven.com

US: Providence, RI – Interactive Improv Comedy Show for the Whole Family

Bring Your Own Improv’s Family Friendly Comedy Show is a rarity – a comedy club that you can bring your kids to.BYOI Kids

Bring Your Own Improv (BYOI) is now in its 10th season and family-friendly comedy shows are Fridays at 7pm. This interactive improv show welcomes voluntary audience participation, of all ages.

The format is similar to “Who’s Line is it Anyways” where different games and scenes are set up. The troupe asks for audience input, the actors put their own spin on scenes, and the action changes constantly,  so no two performances are ever the same. They encourage you to participate in one of three ways: Applaud at a scene you like, yell out fantastic suggestions, or if you feel you’re ready,  jump up and get involved with the performers on stage.

So if anyone in your family wants to flex their comic muscles or would just like partake and play along, the clever and creative cast will support you.  No worries, they only choose volunteers with hands up .BYOI Performers

Why not start your weekend off with some laughs, the players are pros and know how to keep the audience entertained.  Sit back and chuckle your cares away with this fun, inexpensive night out with the family. This is a hidden gem if you’re looking for something to do while on a family vacation in the Providence or Newport area. There’s also a Late Night Comedy Show (PG-13) Fridays at 9pm.

For a list of all shows: bringyourownimprov.com/Shows.htm

Location: Warwick Center for the Arts, 3259 Post Rd., Warwick, RI 02886
Dates:  March Family-Friendly Shows –  Fri, Mar 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 2017
Time: 7 – 8:30pm
Tel: 401-261-7678

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: goprovidence.com

US: Lumberton, NC – Fast Races, Hot Chili, and Fun at the Rumba on the Lumber Festival

Did you ever Rumba on the Lumber? If not, you gotta get there. The whole weekend is geared towards the entire family. Rumba Live Music

The Rumba on the Lumber Festival features  live music, Rumba Games Exhibition – a battle between local fitness fanatics, Family Fun Ride/Rodeo, vendors, arts and crafts show, and the Lumbee River EMD Free Kidz Zone –  with rock climbing, inflatable bouncer/slide, children’s basketball game, a spinner mechanical ride, trackless train and a high-striker.

The annual Rumba on the Lumber Festival officially kicks off at 9 am with the Rumba RunSoutheastern Health 5K, 10K run described as  very flat, fast, and fun, and the Family Fun Mile starts at 10am in downtown Lumberton.

Front and center is the Bud Light North of the Border Chili cook-off.  Crowds gather from 11 – 2pm, Saturday in downtown Lumberton to get a taste of what teams are cooking. About 30 teams compete in categories like Best Tasting, Spiciest, Strangest Ingredient, Best Chili Name and Best Cooking Outfits. Costumed participants find unique ways to set themselves apart from the competition.
Rumba Chili Cookoff

Schedule of Events:-

Saturday – March 4th:

9am – Southern Eastern Health 5K and Southeastern Health 10K

10 – 5pm – Lumbee River EMC KidZone activities at the Courthouse Plaza

10 – 5pm – Business, Craft and Food Vendors Galore

11am – Southeastern Health Family Fun Run/Walk

11 – 2pm – Bud Light North Light of the Border Chili cook-off with music by the Goldrush Band

TBA – The Rumba Games Fitness Competition

2 – 5pm – Concert at the Courthouse Plaza with the Blackwater Rhythm and Blues Band

Events on Sun March 5th:(starting at Northeast Park)

12 Noon – Yamaha of Lumberton Metric Century ( 100K Cycling Race)

1:30 – Cruzbike 20-Mile Adventure Ride

3:30 – Family Fun Ride/Rodeo

Go out and join the Lumberton community at this  FREE weekend hugely packed with entertainment and family fun.

Location:Downtown Plaza – 200 N. Elm Street, Lumberton, NC 28358
Date: Sat March 4 – Sun March 5, 2017
Time: Sat 9 – 5pm. Sun 12 – 4pm
Tel: 910-671-3876
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: lumberton-nc.com

US: Alexandria, VA – Alexandria Celebrates George Washington’s Birthday

This city throws a birthday party every year for its famous first citizen, George Washington, who lived here most of his life (when he wasn’t off leading a war or being first president of United States). He was born February 22. 1732 in Virginia and Alexandria commemorates with  George Washington-themed events throughout the month each February.George Washington's Birthday

In the spirit of the old cherry tree tale, from now until Feb 11th, Alexandria restaurants are challenged to a very cherry culinary contest. At participating restaurants diners are encouraged to vote for their favorite cherry drinks, starters, entrees and desserts.
(703) 829-6640 For participating restaurants and more info: washingtonbirthday.com/events-1/2017/1/29/cherry-challenge   Photo Credit: Tisara Photography

How about a Walking with Washington Tour. Walk in George Washington’s footsteps through his hometown, historic Alexandria. View some of the sites connected to the General, like where he filled his prescriptions or slept overnight. FREE
Begin your journey: Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Dates: Sun. Feb 5, 12, 19, 2017
Time: 2 -3:30pm

Historic Alexandria “Open House” : In honor of the birthday of George Washington admission is FREE to the following sites on Parade Day.
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (134 North Royal Street, Alexandria, Virginia), 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Friendship Firehouse Museum (107 S. Alfred St., Alexandria, Virginia), 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Old Presbyterian Meeting House (323 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia), 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Lyceum (201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, Virginia), 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Carlyle House (121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, Virginia), 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax St., Alexandria, Virginia), 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Christ Church (118 N. Washington St., Alexandria, Virginia), 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
Date: Mon, Feb 20, 2017
Time: 9am – 4pm

Throughout the weekend, participate in public wreath-layings at the Washingtons’ Tomb, see 18th-century dancing demonstrations and character performances, and enjoy birthday cake with “General and Martha Washington.” Feb 18 & 19: Included in admission. Mount Vernon Photo Credit: Mount Vernon

On February 20, see the Official Observance Ceremony of George Washington’s Birthday, a special military demonstration, and a musical salute to the first president. The Pioneer Farm will also be open on this day. Admission is FREE
Photo Credit: Mount Vernon

The celebration continues on February 22 as Mount Vernon offers FREE admission on George Washington’s actual birthday.
Dates: Feb 18, 19, 20, 22, 2017
Time: 9am – 4pm

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitalexandriava.com

Canada – Ontario Weekend Getaway: Low Fat Donuts, Fair Trade Coffee, Chainsaws and Friendly Alpacas


Why not get away with your family to Almonte, ON, just west of Ottawa . The very first reason is that Ed Atwell of Healthy Food Technologies (hft) has figured out how to make low-fat donuts that are scrumptious. He “tricks” the donuts by frying them (in zero trans fat oil) for 1/2 the time and then baking them at the same temperature. Watch the video to see him explain the process he invented.

Now take a walk around the corner and pick up your to-go-with coffee at fair trade high quality Equator Coffee Roasters. They roast the beans right there, having bought them from small-scale farming communities and paid the farmers well. Do not  miss the Oh-so-Canadian maple-flavored latte. It’s worth driving there just for that! Kids can enjoy the hot chocolate.coffee

Next you can pick up snacks for the car or yummies to take home at Dandelion Foods co-op before a 45 min. drive to Wheelers Pancake House and Maple Sugar Camp. D
andelion Foods co-op sells whole, local and organic foods and some for specialty diets. Here you can buy the famous Hummingbird chocolate bars favored by Prime Minister Trudeau. Note the PB & Joy (with peanut butter) and the spicy Mayan.  Please bring back the Empire Cheese caramelized onion cheddar cheese for me.

For lunch and fun, at Wheelers Pancake House you can visit the Maple Museum and the Chainsaw & Logging museum and the kids can have fun in the playground. Handy men and women will be mesmerized by Mark Wheeler’s dad Vernon’s collection of hundreds of chainsaws. Everyone will enjoy his “largest collection of pure maple syrup artifacts” which help explain the history of the maple sugar industry. From First Nations wooden spigots to the plastic lines of today, syrup pour-ers, molds, pails, and everything else related to this sweet topic, it’s all here at this 38-year family business. Don’t forget to leave room for the freshly made pancakes and delicious syrup right from their trees.
img_8125 img_8139

For the grand finale, we visited Keith and Elizabeth Adam’s alpacas and llamas at their  Serendipity Farm. For retirement they decided to raise alpacas for the fun of it. The couple exudes their enjoyment of spending their golden years with these elegant, fluffy friends. They’ll chatter about the little quirks of each of the animals as well as the work associated with raising them.

Alpacas produce fiber that is as fine as cashmere, soft, silky and much warmer than sheep’s wool, while also wicking moisture away from the body.alpacas
In their little shop you can buy scarves, gloves, purses, as well as fiber felted sheets, alpaca and fiber rovings and handspun yarn.

Leave some time too for the local shops which wind their way along the downtown streets. Yes there’s plenty to do in Lanark County for a low-key interesting getaway weekend. We are not sure how this area attracted so many hippie/free trade/entrepreneurial types who seem to care for the planet. You can feel virtuous spending time and money in this town.

Equator Coffee Roasters, 451-A Ottawa St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0, Tel: 613-256-5960

Dandelion Foods, 541 Ottawa St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0,  Tel: 1-613-256-4545

Healthy Food Technologies, 25 Industrial Rd., Almonte ON  Tel: 613-256-9900
(HFT) https://www.facebook.com/HFTinc

Wheelers Pancake House and Maple Sugar Camp, 1001 Highland Line, McDonalds Corners(Lanark Highlands), ON K0G 1M0 Tel: 613-278-2090

Serendipity Farm Alpacas & Llamas,  929 South Lavant Rd, Lanark, ON K0G1K0  Tel: 613-259-3304 or 613-222-6303



US: Elkton, MD – Elkton’s Fall Fest

Celebrate autumn in Elkton’s historic downtown, where 18th-century buildings are now filled with art galleries, cozy cafes and antique shops.  Since 1997, the Elkton Fall Fest has attracted thousands of families to visit the small-town shops, watch special county contests, and participate in community activities. The outdoor, pedestrian-only street festival event is held on Main and North streets.

The commemoration gets underway with Fall Fest Friday Night Kick Off Party; on main street souped-up hot rods line the streets for a car show and live entertainment is performed by a Neil Diamond tribute band throughout the evening.

Saturday’s festivities includes a compilation of contests including: Cecil 500 Push Cart Derby, Elkton’s Pretty Baby Contest, Miss Fall Fest, The Voice of Elkton singing contest, and a Delmarva DockDogs event featuring 3 areas of competition, horizontal and vertical jumping abilities as well as their speed in the water.  The Downtown Festival of the Arts is new to Fall Fest, a juried row of art from the Courthouse to Cecil County Arts Council. Elkton Fall Fest

The Fall Fest weekend will be filled with a variety of food, crafts, games, children’s activities, live musical entertainment and fun for the whole family.

Location: 101 East Main Street, Elkton, MD 21921
Dates: Sept. 16 – 17, 2016
Hours: Fri 5 – 9 pm, Sat 8- 8 pm
Tel: 410-398-5076

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: