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Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan

I hate Saskatoon

While in Winnipeg, we went to the Olive Garden.  I am not a big fan of the Olive Garden but it’s fare is passable and as I was getting ready to order, another table sat down and started to bad mouth Saskatoon, our weather, our culture, and the fact that there is nothing to do in Saskatoon.

Granted there isn’t an Olive Garden here and there isn’t anything to compare to The Forks but c’mon, the Olive Garden is over rated and I’ll take dinner at Alexander’s any day of the week.  Maybe they were just upset with their breadsticks.

Back to hating on Saskatoon.  How does anyone in Winnipeg complain about Saskatoon weather.  Yes it gets cold here but Winnipeg had to install miles of tunnels and covered skywalks just to avoid the cold during the winter and hide from the mosquitos in the summer.  Somehow Winnipeg has managed to make it worse by creating the world’s worst wind tunnel.  While entering the Winnipeg Convention Centre, the temperature probably dropped another ten degrees Celsius as the wind was brought downward and forced through their sheltered driveway.  Brilliant.  Of course the reason why I was so cold is that I had to park in Portage la Prairie because Winnipeg has almost no available downtown parking.  This was verified by the Winnipeg Parking Authority website which tried to assure me that Winnipeg has lots of parking.  Right, which is why you have a parking authority and a website which says there is lots of parking. 

While I don’t mind the fact that someone could love Winnipeg, the hatred on Saskatoon was a little over the top.  Sure we don’t have  an NHL team or anything but the Winnipeg Jets thought Phoenix would be a better option and look how that has turned out for them.  They do have a CFL team in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers but in my seven days in Winnipeg, I never saw a single Blue Bomber shirt, jacket, or even a hat while several times people came up to me an shook my hand for wearing my Rider green (I did get one death threat while walking down Portage from a carload of guys in a rusted out 1991 Chevy Caprice).

Now Winnipeg has built a gorgeous downtown stadium which is both cutting edge but too small for a NHL team at around 14,000 seats.  This move seems to be based on the idea of torturing Winnipeg Jets fans forever and it seems to work as they all know that a) they have a cutting edge stadium b) it’s too small for a NHL team.  Of course they did avoid the mistake that Saskatoon made in that we built our stadium on the outskirts of North Battleford.  Not our best move.  We’ll call that  one a wash.

The lack of culture gets me a little bit as well.  I’d refute that but I am too busy enjoying the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, the SaskTel Jazz Festival, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Mendel Art Gallery, the Persephone Theatre, Fringe Festival, or even heading down to the Roxy or Broadway Theatres.  Winnipeg has it’s cultural richness as well but Saskatoon is not a barren cultural wasteland either.

Yes our downtown architecture is largely bland and uninteresting but there are signs of even that changing.  We have our weaknesses but I’ll take Saskatoon any day.  I like walking outside.

Update: While it was mind numbingly cold in Winnipeg, I did get out with my camera(s) and take some photos of Winnipeg, The Forks, and St. Boniface Cathedral.  The architecture of Saskatoon just doesn’t compare with the architecture of Winnipeg.

What to do in Saskatoon during the summer of 2010

With Wendy working at Safeway and her shifts being all over the map, we need to plan ahead as a family if we are going to enjoy all of what Saskatoon has to offer this summer.  While we won’t get to all of these events this summer, here is my list of why I think Saskatoon is a great place to spend the summer.

  • June 24 and 25th :: Broadway Art Encounter :: This is done in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival so there will an interesting selection of art and some great jazz to see.
  • July 10th :: Regina Red Sox vs. Saskatoon Yellow Jackets ::  Wendy and I have been meaning to go to a minor league baseball game since the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets came to Saskatoon.  They are a Western Major Baseball League team and I am told it’s not bad baseball to watch.  $8 per ticket.
  • July 18th to July 25th :: Arlington Beach Family Camp and 50th Reunion :: I am taking the entire week off work and spending most of it at the cabin with the boys.  Wendy will be out for part of the week while she works a couple of shifts at work.
  • July 23rd and 24th :: Rotary Club Dragon Boat Festival :: Not sure if we will be back from the lake but if we are, we will take this in along with the Taste of Saskatchewan.
  • Taste of Saskatchewan July 20th to July 25th :: Taste of Saskatchewan :: I really like the idea of Taste of Saskatchewan but in reality, I don’t really enjoy going.  The food can either be good or mediocre, it’s a really crowded event, the music is too loud to have a conversation, and parking can be brutal.  My honest feeling is that it would be a better event with fewer (but better restaurants), a larger venue, and a sound stage that doesn’t feel the need to blow out your ear drums.
  • July 29th to August 7th :: Saskatoon Fringe Festival :: Good food, lots of stuff made of hemp, hundreds of people smoking pot while the police look the other way.  I don’t generally take in the plays but instead just enjoy myself on Broadway Avenue with the boys.
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders July 31st :: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders :: It’s the Riders Centennial which means like all Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, we must make the mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca and take in a game.  We are choosing to see the Riders lay down a smackdown on the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  There is a reason why we have a cabin that is only an hour away from Mosaic Stadium.
  • NASCAR Canadian Tire Series August 4th :: NASCAR Canadian Tire Series :: 250 laps of NASCAR goodness at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.  Oddly enough, Pierre Bourque of Bourque Newswatch is also in the series.  Sadly, the Conservative Party is no longer sponsoring his ride, maybe because NASCAR drivers only turn left.
  • August 8th :: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan :: I know it goes all summer but what could be a better way to spend a Sunday night than taking in some Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice) and then head to a place with a patio for coffee and dessert.
  • August 10 - 15 :: Saskatoon Exhibition :: This is the highlight of Mark’s summer and is fun to go with Wendy and Oliver as well.
  • September 3-4 :: Saskatoon Fireworks Festival :: After years of taking in really lame fireworks shows in Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Fireworks Festival changed everything.  It is a world class, must see event that is perfect for River Landing.  Let’s just hope the Traffic Bridge doesn’t collapse before that weekend is over.
  • Calgary Flames logo September 29 :: Calgary Flames vs. New York Islanders :: I know I broke up with hockey a couple of years (I said some things, hockey said some things… you know how it is) but we have been checking out each other on Facebook and I may grab a thing of nachos and see how hockey is doing.

As you can probably tell by the links, I am a big fan and user of Yahoo!’s Upcoming service.  I’ll keep adding events to my profile as I see them coming up.

The Summer of 09

I was trying to plan out our summer the other day and started to enter some of it into Dopplr and Upcoming.  It isn’t that busy of a summer for us but according to Upcoming, here are the events that we are taking in.

  • June 26+ :: Saskatchewan Jazz Festival :: None of the headline acts really get me that excited but Wendy and I will take in some of the free stages (PDF)
  • June 27 :: 5th Annual Feast By The Beach Fundraiser :: A lobster fundraiser at Arlington Beach.  While we are there, we plan to spend the weekend at the cabin.
  • July 30 – August 8 :: Saskatoon Fringe Festival :: Wendy and I generally take Mark down to the Fringe for a couple of evenings of taking in street performers and good food.  You can also get all of the hemp bracelets that you will never wear again.  One year Wendy wanted me to by a CD of pan flute music.  Let’s just say that I carry the wallets.
  • July 1 – August 16th :: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan :: We plan to take in A Midsummer Night’s Dream this summer.  This is my favorite event all summer and is a great way to spend an evening.  If you have never gone, you owe yourself to take in at least one show this summer.
  • July 14 :: Taste of Saskatchewan :: I am cursed to always get the worst food in the festival while Wendy gets the best.  I am just getting what she gets this year.  The festival gets a lot of hype but Saskatoon isn’t exactly known as a culinary centre (how many identical Greek, Italian, and franchise restaurants does a city need?).  How do I say this… if we had better restaurants, we would have a better festival.
  • July 25 :: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Edmonton Eskimos :: We are making a pilgrimage to Mosaic Stadium to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders play the hated Edmonton Eskimos.
  • August 4-9 :: Saskatoon EX :: I have a nine year old son and Mark is about one thing at the EX; Bumper Cars.  Wendy is all about the elephant ears while I am like to wander around the trade show and taking some photographs.
  • August 8 :: Mac’s Froster 50 :: I am a big fan of Legend’s racing on a short track like the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.  It’s not NASCAR or anything but it’s a nice way to spend the evening.
  • August 13-14 :: Folkfest :: Despite the name, it’s not a folk music festival.  It’s a celebration of multiculturalism which in Saskatchewan we take as eating perogies and drinking too much beer.  Since I don’t drink beer, it means that Mark, Wendy and I are eating a lot of perogies.
  • Aug 15-16 :: Canada Remembers International Airshow :: It’s the last air show that Saskatoon will ever have.  We have enjoyed it a lot in the past so we will go and say goodbye.
  • Aug 22 :: Ukraine Day in the Park :: Wendy isn’t sure she wants to go but it’s a big deal in the Riversdale and Pleasant Hill neighborhoods so I think we will go.
  • September 4 :: Saskatchewan Huskies vs Calgary Dinos :: The start of the CIS football season.
  • September 11 :: Saskatchewan Huskies vs Regina Rams :: Considering that I taught Mark when he was small that when he flushed the toilet to salute and say, “See you in Regina”, this is similar to Texas – Oklahoma or Notre Dame – Michigan for University of Saskatchewan football fans.

We don’t have that much travel planned for the summer as we plan to enjoy Saskatoon quite a bit.  We are heading up to the cabin and then in October plan to take Mark for his first trip to the ocean and heading to Victoria for a couple of days.  You can see some of my trips on Dopplr (more if you join it).

If you are in Saskatoon, make sure you sign up for Upcoming and add any events that you want the world (and people like me) to see.  Upcoming allows you to let people know if you are going as well.  Wendy and I have had quite a few events we thought only we were taking in end up as a lot of fun as we found out more people were coming as well.

If you have any suggestions on things I should be taking in, let me know in the comments.