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The smell of campfire smoke, sipping a drink in a hammock, the sound of crickets at dusk, eating freshly fried fish from the pan. Summer is here, and that means camping season is in full swing. For those wanting a full service campground, Trout Haven Park and Campground, located at 24749 Park St in Strathroy, is the perfect place for a summer retreat. Trout Haven’s tree lined sites are situated on the banks of the Gilzean creek. The park offers sites for both RV and tent lovers alike, and with amenities such as power and water hook ups, washrooms, a newly updated rec hall, and a fully stocked trout pond, this campground will be sure to please even the devoted city lover.
Owners and managers of Trout Haven, George and Aggie Armstrong, purchased the park in 1999 as a retirement plan, and since then have been tirelessly working to go above and beyond to provide for their guests, including building their own house on the property in 2005. They are the fifth owners of the park, which has been running since the 1960’s, and have seen a lot of changes over the years. “We’ve definitely seen an increase of snowbirds to our park,” says Aggie, “being so close to town makes it convenient for them, as there is a lot to offer.” With around 40 full time renters for the season, it does seem to be a snowbird’s paradise. Trout Haven isn’t just for the older crowd though, the park offers families a playground, pond fishing, wading in the creek, and activities all summer.
Aggie says part of the reason Trout Haven has had such long standing success is due to its location in Middlesex County. Trout Haven “is within a half hour of London, and a nice stop halfway between the [U.S.] border and Niagara Falls,” she says. For those passing through or in the area for a vacation, camping at Trout Haven, says Aggie, is “a great alternative to a hotel.”
This summer Trout Haven is hosting many fun events that will appeal to campers, tourists, and locals alike. Some of Trout Haven’s events include a Canada Day ceremony (including fireworks and a strawberry dinner), a golf tournament on September 16th in memory of their son, and, Trout Haven’s biggest event: their rubber ducky race on August 5th. George and Aggie have been putting on this event, featuring the iconic yellow toy, for over seven years now. The rubber ducks are released over the bridge, and race down the creek through the park, and the first three ducks to cross the finish line are the winners. All proceeds of the race go to support local charities. Those interested can also visit Trout Haven’s website (www.trouthaven.ca).
With running a park and campground, as well as organizing these events, the owners agree there is never a dull moment at the Trout Haven. According to Aggie the best part of the business is the people – “we’re all a big community, plus, you meet people from all over the world,” she says. Even though George and Aggie are now looking towards retirement, they have no desire to slow down; they have plans to continue to update and improve the park, including building an outdoor pavilion. “We don’t ever plan on leaving,” says Aggie.
Celebrating Spring with Asparagus
By Marlene Cornelis of Urban Cottage Life.com
Food road tripping in Middlesex County — have you tried it? As the seasons unfold they bring successive waves of bountiful produce, but what’s more exciting than springtime when the first fresh fare is available? Just check the Middlesex-London Local Food Guide for a list of what’s in season now and who offers it. If you want to play it safe, call ahead to ensure they have what you’re looking for. Then check out the handy map and begin your local food adventure!
My most recent quest was for much-anticipated asparagus. Instead of going directly to a producer, I wanted to try a country market. I consulted the Guide, saw that Muscutt's Country Store near Melbourne carries all-season produce, and called to confirm they had local asparagus. After a splendid drive through the greening countryside, I arrived and was charmed by the riotous profusion of potted flowers outside the store.
Inside, I found beautiful, slender asparagus from Dobrentey Farms of Strathroy — just the thing to create an easy but elegant Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart. The crust is easily assembled using phyllo pastry sheets, which provide a shatteringly crisp contrast to the creaminess of the tangy goat cheese. But it’s the brilliant green, tender asparagus that’s truly the star of this tart.
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart
This recipe makes a lovely starter for dinner, or would be ideal served for lunch with a side salad of greens and local Middlesex strawberries.
I used a rectangular tart tin with a removable bottom for this tart, about 4 x 13 inches in size. If you don’t have a tin, you can make the tart on a baking tray, as explained below.
Follow the instructions on the box to ensure the phyllo is thawed before you need to work with it. The sheets are paper thin and will break if you handle them while too cold.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 °F. Serves 2–4.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, halved
about 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
kosher salt, divided
100 g plain goat cheese
1 small shallot
1 lemon (for zesting), scrubbed
15 slender asparagus spears, rinsed and drained
4 sheets phyllo pastry
To prepare the oil for the pastry and asparagus — Place the olive oil in a ramekin. Crush a half clove of garlic, and add it to the oil with a pinch each of black pepper and kosher salt. Set aside to steep.
To prepare the filling —Place the goat cheese in a medium-sized bowl and break it up with a fork. Peel and mince the shallot and the other half clove of garlic, then add them to the goat cheese. Using a rasp, zest half of the lemon over the cheese. Then add 1/8 tsp of black pepper and a pinch or two of kosher salt. Stir the mixture well and set aside.
Slice the woody ends off the asparagus (enough that the spears are a little shorter than twice the width of the tart tin). Then cut them in half and rinse in a colander. Drain well and transfer to a bowl.
To prepare the phyllo pastry — Spread the first sheet of phyllo on the counter or a large baking tray. (Cover remaining sheets with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out and becoming brittle.) Brush the oil mixture lightly over the entire sheet, making sure to cover all the edges. Lay the next sheet over top and repeat until all the sheets are oiled. (Retain the leftover oil.) Then cut the stack of phyllo into thirds width-wise. Transfer each stack to the tart tin, arranging so there’s a border of phyllo on all sides of the tin. Stir the goat cheese mixture again, then dollop it around the phyllo base. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it evenly.
If you don’t have a tart tin, you can stack the cut phyllo sheets on a baking tray, brushing each layer with oil. There will be 12 layers in total. When you spread on the goat cheese mixture, leave a ¾-inch border around it.
To finish assembly — Pour the remaining oil over the asparagus. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp black pepper and a pinch of salt, and toss well. Arrange the asparagus over the goat cheese, alternating the tops and bottoms of the spears and the direction of the tips. Zest the rest of the lemon over the tart.
Set the tart tin on a baking tray, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the asparagus is cooked through and the phyllo is golden brown and crispy. Serve warm. For presentation, pop out the bottom of the tin, then carefully transfer the tart to a serving platter. Or, cut it in the kitchen and serve restaurant style.
Credit for recipe and photos: Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life.com
1. Eat deep fried bacon at Lucan’s BaconFest
An entire day dedicated towards bacon – what could be better than that? With activities such as Hogs N’ Rods Show & Shine, Beer Gardens, Live Music, Kids Zone Including Rise to Fame preliminary competition, local artisan booths, a chalk paint competition and more, you do not want to miss this! Make sure to stop by Visit Middlesex's booth on Main St. to pick up a Trail Guide Map, Cruise the Coast Map, Visit Middlesex map and brochure, win prizes, and see Betsy the cow!
2. Try your hand at jousting at the Oxford Renaissance Festival
If you’ve ever wanted to be a knight, princess, or even court jester for a day the Oxford Renaissance Festival is just for you. Entertainment and history collide in this three day event that features a flying freak circus, Corrigan dancers, bird of prey show, and, of course jousting, plus much more.
3. Try on a kilt at the Donnybrook Fiddle and Step Dance Competition
Channel your inner Scottish heritage this August 3rd-7th at this event featuring the best of Canadian folk/fiddle music, and step dancing. Sure to be a treat for your ears and eyes!
4. Listen to stories around a bonfire at Twilight Tuesdays at Ska-Nah-Doht Village
Every Tuesday Ska-Nah-Doht hosts a twilight hike through the surrounding trails, followed by a bonfire, and a different special surprise each week. Fun for adults and kid alike!
5. Buy local fruits and veggies at the Strathroy Downtown Market
Eating fresh and buying local has never been easier at the Strathroy Downtown Market, hosted every Saturday in the summer from 8 AM – 12 PM in downtown Strathroy. Dozens of local food, craft, and artisan booths to browse.
6. Listen to an outdoors concert at Thorndale’s 160th party
Thorndale’s 160th birthday party is going to be a big one. The celebrations include, a bouncy castle, sidewalk chalk, horse and wagon rides, photo booth, food trucks, scavenger hunts, a beer tent, and hours of live music – including a special performance by Genevieve Fisher.
7. Square dance at Purple Hill’s Bluegrass Opry Reunion
Purple Hill Country Hall’s biggest even of the year! A three-day music festival featuring the best of Canadian folk and country music. Camp on site to never miss a moment of the action. Food and craft vendors on site as well.
8. Watch a small town hit the big screen at the Black Donnelly’s movie screening
Immerse yourself in the antics of Lucan’s own Black Donnellys with a special movie screening. This highly anticipated movie, using local actors, volunteers, and locations, is truly a Canadian production. After the movie will be a 30 minute Q&A with the movie director, writer, and actors.
9. Try to pull a tractor at Ilderton's Canada 150 Celebrations
From July 7th - 9th Ilderton is celebrating Canada in style. Come on out to the Ilderton Fair Grounds for a BBQ, parade, live music, games for children, antique displays, and the much coveted tractor pull!
10. Shop at over 200 unique craft and art booths at Dorchester’s Art in the Barn event
The first ever Art in the Barn event is coming soon. On July 8th join Southwestern Ontario’s largest arts and crafts festival. With over 200 artists and crafters there is sure to be something for everyone.
For more information on these events, and to discover more events in Middlesex, or even list your own, visit our events calendar at www.visitmiddlesex.ca/events/calendar
Middlesex County hosted their 2017 Spring Agricultural Tour on May 31st. The tour was hosted by Middlesex County’s Department of Economic Development and organized by key agricultural stakeholders from across the area including Libro Credit Union, Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce, Middlesex Federation of Agriculture, the local Workforce Development Board, and The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Over 40 community leaders, elected officials, and members of the media participated in the tour. Departing Texas Longhorn Ranch at 8:30 a.m., attendees traveled by bus around Middlesex County and visited the following locations:
Stop #1: Hemar Farms
Stop #2: Melbourne Farm Automation Ltd.
Stop #3: Hollandia Bakeries Ltd.
Stop #4: L.H. Gray & Son Limited (Gray Ridge Eggs)
Stop #5: Slegers ‘Living Organic’ Greens
Stop #6: Texas Longhorn Ranch
At each stop attendees met with the operators to learn more about their business and its impact on the area’s economy. The tour ended at 1:00 p.m. following a local lunch sponsored, in part, by Foodland Ontario. This marks the first year that the County’s Department of Economic Development has hosted a Tour aimed at increasing the awareness of the importance of the agricultural sector to the community. Middlesex County would like to thank all of the dedicated sponsors and tour partners involved in this year’s event.
Keep your eyes peeled, because Visit Middlesex is headed to the Big Apple! From June 28th - July 4th, Visit Middlesex's "Discover Our Grassroutes" video will be aired on the ABC screen in Times Square. The same video will also be airing in downtown Toronto on the CTV screen, as well as in On Route locations across Ontario this June and July. "Discover Our Grassroutes" is a promotional video focusing in on a modern family enjoying a day in Middlesex County and features cultural and natural assets, agri-tourism, local dining and recreational facilities. The initiative is in partnership with Horizon Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, and is part of our larger DMO marketing strategy and aims at increasing awareness of Middlesex's tourism sector. The video is also available on VisitMiddlesex.ca, YouTube, and Visit Middlesex page on Facebook.
The Middlesex County Resident Life Survey (Resident Life Survey) was designed specifically to learn more about Middlesex County residents. The survey report is now available to the public and is published on the "Reports & Strategies" page on InvestinMiddlesex.ca. The survey was created in partnership between the Department of Economic Development for Middlesex County, and survey design students under the direction of their psychology professor at Western University. This research examines the factors that attracted residents to live in Middlesex County, aspects of life contributing to the retention of residents, and the factors that may cause residents to relocate outside of the County.
Click on the picture for the full online PDF version