Restrictions imposed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 may impact many of the experiences described in the pages ahead. To ensure your Southgate adventure doesn’t present any unwelcome surprises, please check the applicable rules according to the Ontario Roadmap to Reopen and call ahead when planning to visit businesses.
A visit to the Township of Southgate is like an immersive trip into rural Canadian culture. From agricultural fairs to clog-stomping jamborees, the people here know-how to gather and have fun, the old-fashioned way. At the centre of it all, is a spirit of community and kindness baked into every dinner, dance, parade and public ceremony.
If you’re looking for things to do and the people to do them with, look no further. At any time of year, there’s bound to be a party brewing in one corner of this place or another and a fresh opportunity for a good time. Here are just a few of the many ways to have fun in Southgate!
Photo: Demonstrations at Holstein Maplefest
Held in early April, Holstein Maplefest has been making mouths water since 1995 and has grown to be one of the most anticipated events in Grey County. A traditional harbinger of Spring, the event culminates in a weekend of fun and family entertainment at Love’s Sugarbush and the small village of Holstein. There’s a dinner and dance, displays and activities for kids, log sawing, woodcarving, sheep shearing, blacksmith demos, candle making, maple taffy, ice cream and of course, generous helpings of pancakes, sausages and that sweet nectar that only maple trees can produce. Keep up- to-date with all things sweet and wonderful on the Holstein Maplefest website.
Southgate Community Farmers’ Market. Photo: Samantha Erin Photography.
The farmers' market operates rain or shine, every Wednesday from 4 pm to 7 pm at the Lion's Pavilion in Memorial Park, Dundalk. Up to 20 local vendors display everything from naturally-raised beef and produce, cured meats, honey, maple syrup, woodworking, breads and baked goods to herbs, jellies, mustards and bedding plants. Occasionally, live music echoes among the stalls nestled here in the centre of Dundalk. But it's the smiling faces that visitors encounter and the quick friendships they make, that keep them coming back.
On the fourth Sunday of the month, Old Tyme Musical Jamborees start hopping at 1 pm at the Legion, 109 Proton Street North and a roast beef supper is available at 4:30 pm.
Holstein Summer Dreams Car Show. Photo: Lynn Turner
Enjoy a day by the mill pond in the shade of Holstein Jubilee Park for a car show and flea market organized by the Egremont Optimist Club and stay for fireworks celebrations lighting up the skies over the Mill pond. Every year, on the Canada Day holiday, families converge on Jubilee Park to display and admire a variety of antique and vintage automobiles. Classic vehicle owners get there early for dash plaques and loot bags. Spectators are admitted by donation. Food is provided by the Junior Optimist of South- Grey.
Sheep dog trials, an international sheep shearing competition, antique tractor displays, drop spindle competitions and the ever-popular sheep solar, sugar bush and dairy barn tours are all part of the Holstein Agro Expo. An off-shoot of the recently discontinued Holstein Rodeo, the Expo has kept the heart of the agricultural community beating every summer. Check the Holstein Agro Expo website for dates and times.
Holstein Agro Expo. Photo: Lynn Turner
The Dundalk Dance Association showcases the talents of traditional Canadian dancers in the fun and energetic disciplines of clogging, square dancing and step dancing. Every year since 1958, the club has sponsored the Canadian Open Square Dancing, Step Dancing and Clogging Festival and Fiddle Contest. The event has brought together dance competitors from all over Ontario, who spin, whirl and twirl their way across the stage often accompanied by equally-talented local musicians and fiddlers. It’s a real hoot! The music festival has become a featured part of the annual Dundalk Fall Fair.
More information is available on the Dundalk Dance Association website.
Canadian Open Square Dancing, Step Dancing and Clogging Festival and Fiddle Contest
A 165+ year-old tradition, the annual Dundalk Fall Fair is one of the best small-town agricultural fairs in the province and is hosted by the Dundalk Agricultural Society. Traditional livestock shows, tractor pulls, ambassador competitions and kids games are combined with the sheer excitement of harness racing and a bang-‘em-up demolition derby to give families a full-on, fun-packed weekend they won’t long forget. Held every year in early September, activities take place Friday to Sunday at the Dundalk Arena and Community Centre. Visit the Dundalk Agricultural Society website for updates and schedule.
Night of Too Many Pumpkins. Photo: Lynn Turner
Held on the weekend before Halloween in the small village of Cedarville, there lurks an event that’s seemingly too large for the tiny hamlet to pull off. See the spectacle of hundreds of carved Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins after dark as they are put on display, lighting up the night, along with decorated hay bales, donated by local schools, businesses and individuals. Visitors are invited to drive through the grounds of the Cedarville Community Centre, located at Camp Fincayra on Southgate Road 10. Admission is free.
Dundalk businesses put their generosity on full display every year during their Trick or Treat Day for kids. Scheduled on the last Saturday before the famous big night of fun and fright, businesses stay open late for the ghoulish festivities. Everyone is welcome to dress up and visit the many stores in town to get some treats. You just might find some great places to shop along the way too.
What do you get when you combine country charm with community spirit and the Christmas season? You get an awesome lineup of Santa Claus parades in Southgate Township!
If you’ve never experienced a Santa Claus parade at night before, you’re in for a real treat! Dozens of locally-sponsored floats, adorned with lights and decorations fill the streets of downtown Dundalk. Led by the Dundalk Fire Department, it’s an evening of magic and spectacle held in early December. Throw in some live musical performances, a satisfying cup of hot chocolate and a visit from Santa, himself, and you have a memory that will last forever.
Holstein Non-motorized Christmas Parade. Photo: Lynn Turner
Horse-drawn floats, horses and riders dressed up for Christmas and adults and children leading dogs in festive attire wind their way down main street in Holstein, accompanied by the jingling of bells, the clip-clop of hooves and people calling out "Merry Christmas" to one another. Sound quaint? The Holstein non-motorized Christmas parade is famously quaint, with snow gently floating down on enthralled crowds lining the streets of the tiny village every year. Held on mid-day Saturday in the middle of December, each year and this event puts everyone into holiday spirit overload!
Are you still stuck for things to do? The Southgate Ruth Hargrave Memorial Library holds many events and programs for kids, teens and adults throughout the year. Check the Township of Southgate website for full details.
Check local listings to be sure that an event is proceeding and what date(s) and times are scheduled. When restrictions are lifted, good times will be had in Southgate Township!