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"Beautiful day golfing in Saskatoon. I wish we could have booked a show here... The last one was awesome!"

- Fat Mike, vocalist/bassist for punk rock band NOFX (Via Twitter)

eBulletin - July 2011

July Must-See: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan

By D. Grant Black, AOL Travel Canada

Every summer, culture-loving Saskatchewanians gather at a temporary Medieval Village perched on the South Saskatchewan river in Saskatoon to celebrate and re-enact the words of The Bard.

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, my July Must-See in Saskatchewan (July 6 - August 21), extends beyond July and well into August so that gives you plenty of time to drop by and experience this unusual dramatic festival, now in its 27th season. It may not be 16th century England and London's Globe Theatre but there are certainly many people working diligently to approximate the Shakespeare theatre experience beside the South Saskatchewan river.

For a few hours each day, professional actors and audience members commune in a big white tent at the foot of Saskatoon's 25th Street Bridge near the Mendel Art Gallery. To pull off just one season of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, it takes three years of planning. Past performances include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and The Tempest. This year it's two comedies, Love's Labour's Lost (where young men make fools of themselves) and The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare's tale of a jealous king and rustic shepherds.

What makes this brief season of outdoor Shakespeare more accessible to contemporary audiences is the brave decision to occasionally veer from the traditional interpretation of Shakespeare's plays. In seasons past, the directors have elected to update the plays via heavy metal or punk rock music as a backdrop. In 1985, the first year the outdoor theatre company mounted a production, A Midsummer's Night Dream was set on a golf course.

The 2011 edition alongside Saskatoon's mighty river opened on Wednesday, July 6 with Love's Labour's Lost on the Festival Mainstage (runs July 6 - August 21) while The Winter's Tale debuted on Thursday, July 7 (runs July 7 - August 20).

On select nights, for those with a hearty appetite, you can savour a medieval feast prior to the show onsite at the "Elizabethan Village." The Medieval Feast features live entertainment, gourmet cuisine and a mug of grog, of course, which is also available at Sir Toby's Tavern, open every night of the festival. Join other revelers at 5 p.m., Sunday, July 10 (Love's Labour's Lost) and Sunday, July 17 (Winter's Tale) on the riverside deck at Sir Toby's Tavern. To set the tone, there's a mix of live Renaissance and contemporary music plus medieval entertainment, courtesy of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Tickets are $75 (meal and show).

But wait: there's more. Dance groups and a rising singer-songwriter duo bring more live music to the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan's Mainstage on special dates. DanceEgypt Presents: Coffee In Cairo (July 11, 18, & 25, 7:30 p.m.) where attendees meet up in a coffee shop in the Khan el Khalili, Cairo's main market to experience Middle Eastern dance in the middle of this crowded, rambunctious meeting spot. Jen Lane & John Antoniuk: For the Night take the stage August 1 (7:30 p.m.) for one show only. These two Saskatoon singer-songwriters create straight ahead rhythms and harmonies that complete the musical package: Antoniuk comes from the indie-folk scene while Jen Lane's repertoire features more roots country.The rising duo have performed at Canadian Music Week, North by Northeast and Prairie Scene and at the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Dance Saskatchewan Inc. Presents: Dance on the Saskatchewan (August 8 & 15, 6:30 p.m.), a collection of performance works that features a variety of dance genres from all across Saskatchewan.

Visit shakespeareonthesaskatchewan.com for more info on live theatre performances and these three special offerings.

Source: AOL Travel Canada

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The Saskatoon EX Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary!

Many things have changed in Saskatoon over the past 125 years, but the Saskatoon EX still continues to be Prairieland Park's flagship event. It is the event which brings the community of Saskatoon together in celebration. With this year's 125th Anniversary celebration as a primary focus, Prairieland Park is putting a special touch on all areas of the event. One does not turn 125 years old every day you know!

The celebration kicks off with the annual parade, rolling through the streets of downtown Saskatoon on Tuesday, August 9th. Special additions to the parade include the Calgary Stampede Showband, comprised of 100 musicians. Then off to the EX...

The opening act on the SaskTel Grandstand is county icon, Reba McEntire, performing at 8:30 pm on Tuesday night. An antique carousel will be featured on the grounds, with rides at $1.25 all week.

Thursday, August 11th will be the official anniversary celebrations. Seniors 60 & over will be admitted all day for $9.00. Join us at 3:00 p.m. on the lawn on the east side of Hall A for the official "Cake Cutting" ceremony. Rick Morgenstern will perform two shows in the afternoon for the anniversary celebration. As well, food vendors throughout the park are encouraged to offer items for $1.25. Spudnuts, a delicious Saskatoon favourite, will be available for $1.25 all day Thursday!

The Saskatoon EX, August 9 - 14, Celebrating 125 Years of Fun!

For more information, visit www.saskatoonexhibition.ca.

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Saskatoon's WakeRide Promises Great Entertainment

Tourism Saskatoon is proud to sponsor WakeRide, which returns to the banks of the South Saskatchewan River July 15 - 17. Despite concerns the wakeboard competition could be cancelled due to the increase in water level and current of the South Saskatchewan River, WakeRide's other activities will take place as scheduled at Saskatoon's Victoria Park.

"Rider and spectator safety is always our top priority," says Kara Lackie with WakeRide. "If river levels remain high, it will create a challenge to put riders on the water. The volume and flow is only part of the concern, it is also the debris that comes with it."

Now in its third year, WakeRide is a three-day professional wakeboard competition and music festival organized by a team of young Saskatoon professionals.

"This is a Saskatoon sports event and music festival for young people by young people to benefit young people," says Lackie. Every dollar raised from the event goes to support inner city youth programs in Saskatoon. Over the past two years, WakeRide raised $60,000 for local youth programs including KidSport and White Buffalo Youth Lodge.

WakeRide's feature rider for the 2011 wakeboard competition is Saskatchewan-native Rusty Malinoski, the world's number one wakeboarder. Malinoski and the other professional wakeboarders will be riding slider pools in Victoria Park. Spectators will get tremendous up-close viewing of their spectacular wakeboarding tricks.

"We know people are looking forward to seeing the wakeboard competition," says JoAnne Wasko, Director of Markets, Advertising & Media with Tourism Saskatoon. "It's a thrill to watch them in action on the river, and it will be fun to see them in the slider pools. Plus, there is so much more for people to see and do. The organizers have put together a great schedule of activities and concerts in addition to the wakeboard competition itself."

During the day, families can enjoy KidZone, professional skateboarding demonstrations and instruction, retail and food kiosks in WakeRide Village, and Freestyle Motocross. At night, WakeRide's concert series will hit the stage. Headliners confirmed include Broken Social Scene, k-os, and One Bad Son.

Tickets for the 2011 WakeRide festival can be purchased online through Ticketmaster or at BackSide BoardShop, 1102-A 3rd Avenue North.

Click here for full release.

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Saskatoon's 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Event Revving Up to Two Days of Entertainment

Saskatoon's third season of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCATS) will offer visitors more value. New for the 2011 event at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway, the $40 ticket will include two days of racing July 26 and 27.

The evening of Tuesday, July 26 will feature the local race divisions including the Mini Stock Sport Compacts, Thunder Stocks, Street Stocks and Pro Trucks. Tuesday will also include an appearance by some players with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

On Wednesday, July 27, racing fans will get to see the NCATS 250-lap Velocity Prairie Thunder race, sponsored by Bayer CropScience, as well as a SuperSeal 150-lap feature race for the Dakota Dunes Casino Western Canadian Super Later Model Championship Series.

Saskatoon is the only stop on the Canadian prairies for this fifth season of the NCATS. Running July 9 to August 20, the other Canadian cities hosting the NCATS are Toronto, Ont., Vernon, B.C., Trois-Rivieres, Que., and Montreal, Que.

For more NASCAR Canadian Tire Series information, visit http://hometracks.nascar.com.

For more Auto Clearing Motor Speedway ticket information and race schedules, visit www.autoclearingmotorspeedway.ca.

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Weczeria Reopens on Broadway with a Funky New Decor

By Penny McKinlay, Wanderlust & Words

In a tiny restaurant just big enough for a handful of tables, Chef Dan Walker of Weczeria Food & Wine developed a national reputation for serving modern French cuisine made from the highest-quality local ingredients. His newspaper ads as well as the photographs on the wall of the restaurant showcase the farmers and ranchers who work so hard to produce the food we enjoy on our plate.

Weczeria is reopening this week in a much larger space at 820 Broadway Avenue, and the decor is a playful tribute to the prairie farm. The restaurant was designed by Adam Pollock, who is also one of the servers, in a style that Dan laughingly describes as modern root cellar. Tiny lights twinkle like fireflies in the canning jars fashioned into chandeliers. Old barn boards and wooden crates provide shelving. The floor is bare concrete and the chairs are upholstered in burlap sack.

It's a restful space with entertaining touches of whimsy - an elaborate chandelier manufactured from old wine bottles, an owl perched on a fence post, a barbed-wire sculpture.

It's a big adjustment from a small restaurant with 9 staff to a much larger restaurant with 29 staff, but Chef Dan feels very comfortable with his team of core players.

Tanya, the restaurant manager, used to work at the Spadina Freehouse so she is used to big groups.

Drew Hormell is chef de cuisine. Originally from Newfoundland, he is already adding his own personal touch to the restaurant. A favourite Newfoundland dish, fries with turkey gravy and dressing, will be one of the dishes on offer at the bar. "It's my comfort food," he explains, adding that his wife is really pumped to know that the restaurant will be serving "Newfoundland treasure."

The restaurant comfortably seats 48 to 52 people with additional seating around the large bar in the front of the restaurant.

Old window frames separate the long, narrow space into rooms so that it maintains the intimate feel of the original restaurant.

Weczeria can now serve large parties in the back section while still remaining open with seating for the general public at the front of the restaurant.

At the very back of the restaurant is the wine parlour with a round wooden table that will seat from 4 to 8 people. One wall holds the wine collection while overhead is a chandelier of wine bottles.

The kitchen space is as large as the original restaurant and was humming with activity when I visited.

The menu is posted on a chalkboard and changes regularly to match the food that is currently in season. The wines are all Canadian and one third to one half, such as Joie and Kettle Valley, are special order.

The heavy rains this spring have greatly interfered with Weczeria's supply of local produce as two of the farms that Chef Dan relies on for the bulk of his vegetables and other produce have been flooded out, and he will have to find new suppliers.

Although the menu does not list any vegetarian dishes, Chef Dan assured me that there will always be a vegetarian dish available. So don't hesitate to ask for it - maybe we'll eventually get upgraded to the chalkboard!

Cocktails at the bar
Chef Dan worked with Steve Nydell from 6Twelve Lounge in the Sheraton Cavalier to develop a list with 10 different cocktails, which will be served with an ever-changing variety of small dishes, based on the food that is available in the kitchen.

Reach for the stars
Chef Dan Walker has set his sights on becoming the best restaurant in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. His polished new restaurant with its quirky touches of Prairie humour is definitely a step in the right direction.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner starting on Thursday, June 30.

Source: Wanderlust & Words

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A New Travelling Exhibit at the Saskatoon WDM

Travel back to the 1800s to learn about slavery, the escape route called the Underground Railroad, and the challenges freedom seekers faced if they finally reached the "Promised Land" of Canada. In the 1850s approximately 40,000 Black refugees entered Canada from the United States, helped by such famous "conductors" as Harriet Tubman, who operated for a time from a base in St. Catherines, Ontario.

This exhibit has travelled across Canada with stops in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Over the last year it has been on display at the Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum in Saint Constant, Quebec, and the Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Passages to Freedom features slave narratives, a large model of a slave cabin, models of a plantation and safe-house, interactive components and clues to the secrets about fleeing to freedom. It is divided into three parts:

  • Slavery: stories of capture and life as a slave.
  • Escape: illustrations and narratives about the dangers of escape; signs, codes and symbols used; the messages in spiritual songs, the importance of the stars; the inventive escape methods including a box like the one used by Henry "Box" Brown to mail himself to freedom.
  • Freedom: stories from former slaves and their descendents who found both freedom and prosperity in Canada, and those who found discrimination, racism and even lynching in Canada.
  • Did You Know: Between 10 & 11 million Africans were captured to be sold into slavery.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Welland Historical Museum and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

This unique exhibit will be on display from July 4, 2011 to September 5, 2011 at the Saskatoon Western Development Museum.

For more information, visit www.wdm.ca/stoon.

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Plans Announced for Return of Saskatoon Air Show

By Jeanette Stewart, The StarPhoenix

Organizers of the Saskatoon air show are ready for relaunch.

The air show will be held for the first time at the Saskatoon Auto Clearing Motor Speedway and will be renamed the Cameco Canada Remembers International Festival for Heroes. Details of the 2011 show, scheduled to run on Aug. 6-7, were announced Thursday, July 7.

"The decision was pretty simple. We either stop saluting our veterans in the matter we've done over the last 15 years, or we come up with another idea," said Brian Swidrovich, volunteer director of the air show.

The event began in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and was held at the Saskatoon airport. Concerns about safety and an upcoming airport expansion prompted the airport authority to end the 13-year run after the 2009 show, which ended up indoors due to wet weather.

"We could have quite easily said 'We can't do this anymore,' " said Swidrovich. "That would have been the wrong decision."

Canadian Forces performers announced for the event include the Snowbirds 431 Air Demonstration Squadron in their only major appearance in Saskatchewan this year, the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team and the Sky Hawks Parachute Team out of Trenton, Ontario. The United States Air Force Honor Guard Precision Drill Team from Washington, D.C. is expected to make an appearance, pending approval from the Pentagon.

Air show performers also include wing-walkers Gene Soucy and Theresa Stokes; Pete McLeod Aerosports; aerial comedian and precision pilot Kent Pietsch; aerobatics by Super Dave; "Miss Mitchell," a B-25 and P-51 Mustang WWII aircraft as well as military aircraft tribute flybys.

New to the event this year is the Canada Concert for the Troops, which includes on the bill Canadian rock icons Glass Tiger, country artist Julian Austin and First Nations blues guitarist George Leach from Vancouver. The weekend will also feature the Ladies for Liberty, a vocal group from Kentucky which pays tribute to the sounds of the 1940s.

On the grounds inside the tracks will include a Second World War memorabilia area, military ground displays, law enforcement displays, monster truck rides and model airplane displays, as well as a hot-air balloon salute to veterans.

While typical crowds at the airport reached 35,000 people per day in past years, attendance at this year's air show will be capped at about 10,000 visitors per day to ensure the new site remains safe. Plans are in place to provide parking and shuttle service from Credit Union Centre to accommodate for the smaller site.

Tickets are $25 for adults on Saturday and $20 on Sunday. Students, seniors and children are $15 for either day. Preschoolers are free both days. Military veterans and their spouses, reservists and military personnel who are currently serving receive free admission.

Source: The StarPhoenix

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The Delta Bessborough Launches BessFest.ca

The Delta Bessborough, in cooperation with Saskatoon's summer festivals and events, is launching a new website to assist festival and event goers with their summer travel plans.

Web surfers can head to www.bessfest.ca to take advantage of special guestroom pricing offers that are being made available at significantly reduced rates, in addition guests can link from this site to festival and event specific sites in order to find out more about what's happening in Saskatoon this summer.

"The Delta Bessborough is central to all the festival and event locations" states Stefan Deprez, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Bessborough, "We have seen an increase over the past couple of years in the number of out of town guests making these events part of their summer getaways". Due to the increased demand for these mini vacations, or "staycations" as they are often called, the Bessborough decided to help promote these events by offering attendees the opportunity to enhance their experience with an affordable overnight stay.

"We like to think that people will make 2011 their best festival ever by taking advantage of these specials offers" continues Deprez, "We've seen these offers grow in popularity alongside these events and we want to continue to see Saskatoon flourish as a destination".

This initiative also offers numerous benefits for the festival community who can take advantage of the various marketing benefits of Delta Hotels corporate brand and the Bessborough's allure as a destination unto itself.

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Recreate on the Meewasin Trail

By D. Grant Black, AOL Travel Canada

According to a 2004 study by the UK's Nature and Psychological Well-being, "within urban and semi-urban settings, access to green, open spaces can have a beneficial effect."

Fortunately, Saskatoon's early city planners already figured that out when they decided the South Saskatchewan River valley should be largely left to the enjoyment of its citizens. So did the provincial government in 1979 when they created the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA), a conservation organization dedicated to conserving the natural and cultural heritage resources of the South Saskatchewan River Valley, both in and around Saskatoon.

While Meewasin's jurisdiction does centre in Saskatoon, it actually covers approximately 60 kilometres along the river through Saskatoon, the R.M. of Corman Park and from Pike Lake in the southwest to Clarke's Crossing in the northeast. Meewasin encompasses over 40-square-kilometres, which includes the South Saskatchewan River, conservation areas, parks, museums, interpretive centres, the University of Saskatchewan lands, canoe launches, community links and Riverfront at River Landing, a new public river project that aims to attract residents, visitors and business to downtown Saskatoon with a combination meeting place, performance site and recreation area.

There's also the Meewasin Valley Trail, one of the great urban trail systems in Canada. (Meewasin is Plains Cree for "beautiful.") The Meewasin Trail, a Trans-Canada Trail section, stretches for 21 kilometres along the South Saskatchewan River, including central Saskatoon where you'll find plenty of parks for intimate picnics and family barbeques. This undulating riparian ribbon also serves as a peaceful path for day hikes, in-line skaters, cyclists and it's an ideal running route where I've been test-driving my new Reebok RealFlex running shoes.

Starting this summer, Saskatoon Bicycle Rentals will operate at River Landing across from the Saskatoon Farmers' Market. Based in an 18-foot trailer, the new company's rentals include Dutch-style commuters, cruisers, mountain bikes, tandems, adult tricycles, children's bikes, picnic baskets plus historical tours.

The Meewasin Valley Trail continues southwest to several mixed conservation-recreation areas. Here are some Meewasin Valley sweet spots near Saskatoon worth checking out that offer vehicle access - at least to the parking lots:

Chief Whitecap Park, a few clicks south of the city off Grasswood Road, is a former rifle range that now offers scenic hiking trails and a beautiful view of the South Saskatchewan River. Cranberry Flats, eight km south of Saskatoon off Highway 219, offers a scenic, natural area with large riverside beaches and a wheelchair accessible trail to a valley lookout. Wilson Island, visible from Cranberry Flats' lookout point, was the site of a Sea Cadet Training camp, 1943-1951.

Beaver Creek Conservation Area, 13 km south of Saskatoon, contains one of the few uncultivated short-grass prairie sites left in Saskatchewan. This microcosm of the Meewasin Valley features a prairie habitat and diverse flora and fauna plus a sheltered creek and a river valley. An interpretive centre and staff provide opportunities to discover nature during the four seasons along a selection of five nature trails. Public programs include Moon Hikes, Perseid Meteor Showers and Heritage Hoopla. The Fred Heal Canoe Launch, 20.5 km by river south of Saskatoon, is the place to put in your canoe or kayak for a scenic five-hour paddle back to the city. This is a great river vantage point for bird, animal and plant life spotting enroute.

Check out the Meewasin Valley Authority's website for trail maps and more information on how to locate these natural attractions. A great start-off point is at the Meewasin Valley Interpretive Centre (402 Third Avenue South) near the historic Traffic Bridge in downtown Saskatoon.

For more information, visit meewasin.com/facilities/trail.

Source: AOL Travel Canada

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Contact: Kelly Bertoncini
Manager, Media Relations | Tourism Saskatoon
Ph: 306.931.7585 | kbertoncini@tourismsaskatoon.com

Copyright 2011 Saskatoon Visitor and Convention Bureau. All rights reserved.