Merridale is hosting their third annual Craft Cider Harvest Festival on Sunday, Sept. 29, giving you the chance to taste ciders from around the province. (Citizen file)

Lexi Bainas Column: Cider festival, hoedown, choral fundraiser, photo walk, trivia challenge — Wow!

Casting call: From the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area folks, I have received the following notice:

“The DDBIA is looking for a Santa Claus for our annual Christmas Kick-Off event being held on Friday, Nov. 29. The role includes arriving in City Square, escorted by the Duncan Fire Department, meeting kids, and having “Santa pictures” taken from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Suit is provided and an honorarium of $100 is offered. Please let us know if you are willing to play Jolly Old Saint Nick!” says Elissa Smith, DDBIA administrative assistant. Get in touch with or call 250-715-1700 and let them know you want to audition.


Among the Valley’s biggest boosters, the folks at Merridale Cider in Cobble Hill are holding their third annual Craft Cider Harvest Festival on Sunday, Sept. 29 from 1-5 p.m.

You can “taste unique and delicious farm-crafted ciders from cideries across B.C., meet their makers and enjoy the spectacle of our orchards at harvest time,” they say. I imagine the smell of it all is pretty heady, too.

Tasting tokens are $2 each and can be used for cider tastings, or bites from the Merridale Kitchen.

You can even hop a bus to the event. Check out the site for information and to book tickets.


Oct. 5 is the date of the BC SPCA Cowichan Honky Tonk Honk Hoedown on Saturday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. to 11:55 p.m. at Cobble Hill Hall.

The BC SPCA Cowichan & District Branch is presenting their second annual Hoedown, “an evening of chow, drinks, and line dancing, supporting local animals in need,” they say. (Folks, you had me at Hoedown.)

Pull your boots on and get ready to dance the night away with live music by Montgomery County. (And we all know how lively that band is.)

The event is from 7 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $40 each and include a vegan/vegetarian spread: baked cowboy beans, mac’n’cheese, corn bread, coleslaw and dessert bar. There will be a cash bar.

For any inquiries, please contact or 250-746-4646.

All proceeds from this event support neglected, abused and abandoned animals in care of the BC SPCA Cowichan & District Branch.

Ye haw!


Sept. 28 is Shared Voices: a Choral Fundraiser from 7-9 p.m. at Duncan United Church.

This special choral concert features a vibrant group of talented Cowichan Valley musicians, who will come together in song to help support a worthy cause.

The evening includes choral selections by Lauridsen, Chilcott, The Beatles, Biebl, Quick, Bruckner, Scarlatti, Billy Joel, Gershwin, and more.

The performers are: Sheena Christie, Caitlin Kenny, Bonnie Louden, Kevin Louden, Kevin Mattinson, Lara Nowlan, Stephanie Robinson, Michelle Rolfson Weckesser, and Caroline Wilson.

Admission is by donation (suggested $15) and proceeds will go to the Duncan United Church Homeless Prevention Project.


Also on Sept. 28 is a special show at Sylvan United Church.

According to my source, Margaret St. Cyr, the concert will feature Ted Rhodes (tenor), St. Cyr (horn), Barb Cleary (bass) and Yvonne Gillespie (piano), in a rarely performed piece; ‘Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings’, by Benjamin Britten.

“I don’t think the piece has ever been performed on the Island due to its difficulty,” St. Cyr tells me. “Yvonne Gillespie is performing the string parts on piano but has also written the bass part for Barb to help give the piece an orchestral feel.”

Rhodes and Gillespie will also perform some beautiful Quilter & Bridge songs and St. Cyr and Gillespie will round out the program with ‘Elegy for Horn and Piano’ by Poulenc.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. If you’ve never been to the church, you’ll find it on the Shawnigan side of Frances Kelsey Secondary School, at 985 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Rd.

Admission is by donation. Sounds like you’ll want to be there if you love chamber music.


Like to take pictures with your camera? On Saturday, Oct. 5, why not join the Cowichan Lake Arts & Culture Society as they join Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk?

It’s a free fun day of taking photos together.

Bring something to capture images: smart phone or any kind of camera and meet at Country Grocer in Lake Cowichan. It starts at 9:30 a.m. and, following what organizers are calling “a lovely walk” ends at 11:30 a.m. at Jake’s at the Lake where you can finish with an early lunch.

Register for free so you can see all the images from around the world and vote for the People’s Choice by going to

The Lake Cowichan walk is ‘75 years at the Lake’ or you can search by location: Lake Cowichan.

You also have the option of buying a T-shirt to commemorate your participation or support a worthy cause. There are also prizes offered.


Team Trivia Challenge hosted by Literacy Now is happening Sunday, Oct. 6 at Arbutus Ridge Golf Club from 1-5 p.m.

Celebrate the power of literacy to change lives by participating in this fun team challenge. You’ll be helping to raise funds for free literacy programs in the Cowichan Valley at the same time.

Bring a team of up to eight people or let them know you’d like to join a team. Download the registration form at and get ready for fun.

Oh, and bring some change for the fabulous Tooney Auction, too.


Sunfesters alert!

According to a note passed along by Maureen Hyde of the Canadian Cancer Society, when this year’s Tour de Rock team arrives in Duncan on Oct. 1, the celebration organizing committee is drawing a fundraising raffle that includes a first prize of a 2020 deluxe weekend package at Sunfest (value $1,900). Tickets are only $5 each.

The draw will be held that night at the Tour de Rock Riders’ Dinner in the Eagles Hall in Duncan. Tickets are available at the Canadian Cancer office or Coast Capital.

You could have next summer’s big event in the bag before Thanksgiving.

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Enjoy a concert of unique music at Sylvan United Church on Sept. 28. (Submitted)

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