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by: Kristine Kowalchuk and Tracy Hyatt

February 2010
What to Do Around Alberta in February and March


Leap the Fourth Wall, Calgary
Over the course of its almost quarter- century run, the Enbridge playRites Festival of Canadian Plays has earned a reputation as one of the country’s preeminent incubators for emerging writers. It’s where Calgarian Stephen Massicotte honed his craft before taking his award-winning Mary’s Wedding off Broadway. Other alumni include The Only Animal, who will stage NIX, a magical ice-and-snow theatrical production at the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. From February 3 to March 7, the festival mounts four plays. Among them, The Highest Step in the World, by homegrown talents David van Belle and Eric Rose, at Calgary’s Epcor Centre. The production chronicles Joseph Kittinger’s historic 30,000-metre jump from a weather balloon. Expect to be dazzled by the aerial performers and computer-animated projections. 403-294-7475; Alberta Theatre Projects


Tundra Tourney, Grande Prarie
No jerking, re-gripping or twisting is allowed. The object of the game is to pull your opponent’s finger until he straightens his arm. On paper, the Dene game of finger pull sounds fairly easy, but it’s a highly competitive sport that requires upper-body strength and endurance. Other Arctic games such as the two-foot high kick and the kneel jump (played exactly as they sound) are just as competitive, if not excruciating. This year, you need not travel so far north to watch the best circumpolar athletes compete. Grande Prairie is hosting the 21st Arctic Winter Games March 6 to 13. The event will showcase 11 sports played north of the 55th parallel. And, as part of this international Arctic cultural exchange, expect to encounter throat singers, folk muscians and drummers from as far away as Russia and Greenland performing around the city. Alberta Winter Games


Mark Down Chow Down, Edmonton and Calgary
Those who crave white-tablecloth dining but balk at steep prices will appreciate the fabulous food festivals running March 5 to 14 in Edmonton and Calgary. During Downtown Dining Week, participating restaurants offer Edmontonians a prix-fixe, multi-course menu for as little as $15 to $25. This year’s lineup is packed with new eateries such as Sabor Divino, where the unfussy Mediterranean fare never fails to impress. The grilled bacalhau (salted cod) is a must. Meanwhile, during Dine Out Calgary, more than 80 restaurants offer meals from $15 to $80. Indulge your inner gourmand at such downtown nosheries as Farm, the city’s newest charcuterie, featuring fine cheeses and cured meats paired with select wines. 
Downtown Dining Week and Dine Out Calgary

All Dolled Up, Hanna
With more than 4,000 dolls spanning two centuries and three continents, the Doll Palace in Hanna is dedicated to chronicling the history of this ubiquitous toy. Owner Violetta Link began collecting dolls 30 years ago as a hobby, but when an elderly friend bequeathed her an additional 1,400 specimens, the part-time pastime became a full-time business venture. For 17 years now, hundreds of collectors and enthusiasts have descended upon the one-room museum (open March through December annually) to delight in Link’s prized dolls. While she admits younger children find some of the antiques (made from leather, wood or wax) a bit scary, adults are often drawn to the brass-headed 1890 Minerva or 1920s Hair Bow Peggy. “Older people can spend two hours here because they are so drawn to the dolls,” she says. “They rekindle memories of the toys they had or wanted.” 403-854-2756


The Wild Bunch, Edmonton
When Rosalind Christian opened her flower shop, Eden Lilly, on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue in 2007, she knew one thing: each bouquet would be a living work of art. To this end, she hired talented local designers from outside the flower trade and encouraged them to consider flora their new medium. The result: unique, inspired arrangements worthy of a Dutch still life. Humdrum bunches of carnations these are not. Besides being artful, Eden Lilly’s bouquets are also environmentally sound. The flowers are sourced from organic and fair-trade suppliers whenever possible; in summer, those include local greenhouses. As well, Christian devotes shelf space to the work of local artisans and that of a Rwandan crafts co-op. A portion of the shop’s profits also goes to charities close to home. There’s got to be more love in a Valentine’s bouquet like that. 780-758-6991; Eden Lilly


Wheels of Fortune, Sylvan Lake
Known nationwide for his aged Gouda, John Schalkwyk of Sylvan Star Cheese has staked his money on a new 48,000- square-foot production and retail space in order to meet growing demand for his artisan products. Since winning three awards at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2006 and another three last year (the event is held at three-year intervals), the Sylvan Lake-based company has experienced a meteoric rise to fame. Visitors can peruse Sylvan Star’s shelves for its prized Grizzly Extra Aged Gouda, but there are almost a dozen other cheeses to try, including an Edam, aged Gruyères and Westworld’s favourite: a cayenne and green-peppercorn spiced Gouda. The new facility, which opened in November, processes 14,000 litres of milk per week from Schalkwyk’s herd of alfalfa- and grass-fed Holstein cows. Sylvan Star Cheese


Timber Belles, Across Alberta
A group of Alberta industrial designers have become the unlikely heroes of local style. Loyal Loot Collective, a design atelier formed by four friends from Edmonton and Calgary, uses irreverence and imagination to put an inventive twist on everyday objects. Their log bowls (below), made from reclaimed wood, feature original bark on the outside and colourful glaze on the inside. Their delightful Monsieur Dressup coat hangers, in maple, resemble a starched collar that can be hung on the wall. And the Prairie House ceramic vase reveals a miniature landscape upon which a flower becomes a towering tree. Given such originality, it’s no wonder Loyal Loot’s work has earned appearances on Good Morning America and a Martha Stewart show. The Walrus even bestowed the collective with a cool genre: “Lumberjack Chic.” Loyal Loot

up front

by: Kristine Kowalchuk and Tracy Hyatt

February 2010
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What to Do Around Alberta in February and March


Leap the Fourth Wall, Calgary
Over the course of its almost quarter- century run, the Enbridge playRites Festival of Canadian Plays has earned a reputation as one of the country’s preeminent incubators for emerging writers. It’s where Calgarian Stephen Massicotte honed his craft before taking his award-winning Mary’s Wedding off Broadway. Other alumni include The Only Animal, who will stage NIX, a magical ice-and-snow theatrical production at the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. From February 3 to March 7, the festival mounts four plays. Among them, The Highest Step in the World, by homegrown talents David van Belle and Eric Rose, at Calgary’s Epcor Centre. The production chronicles Joseph Kittinger’s historic 30,000-metre jump from a weather balloon. Expect to be dazzled by the aerial performers and computer-animated projections. 403-294-7475; Alberta Theatre Projects


Tundra Tourney, Grande Prarie
No jerking, re-gripping or twisting is allowed. The object of the game is to pull your opponent’s finger until he straightens his arm. On paper, the Dene game of finger pull sounds fairly easy, but it’s a highly competitive sport that requires upper-body strength and endurance. Other Arctic games such as the two-foot high kick and the kneel jump (played exactly as they sound) are just as competitive, if not excruciating. This year, you need not travel so far north to watch the best circumpolar athletes compete. Grande Prairie is hosting the 21st Arctic Winter Games March 6 to 13. The event will showcase 11 sports played north of the 55th parallel. And, as part of this international Arctic cultural exchange, expect to encounter throat singers, folk muscians and drummers from as far away as Russia and Greenland performing around the city. Alberta Winter Games


Mark Down Chow Down, Edmonton and Calgary
Those who crave white-tablecloth dining but balk at steep prices will appreciate the fabulous food festivals running March 5 to 14 in Edmonton and Calgary. During Downtown Dining Week, participating restaurants offer Edmontonians a prix-fixe, multi-course menu for as little as $15 to $25. This year’s lineup is packed with new eateries such as Sabor Divino, where the unfussy Mediterranean fare never fails to impress. The grilled bacalhau (salted cod) is a must. Meanwhile, during Dine Out Calgary, more than 80 restaurants offer meals from $15 to $80. Indulge your inner gourmand at such downtown nosheries as Farm, the city’s newest charcuterie, featuring fine cheeses and cured meats paired with select wines. 
Downtown Dining Week and Dine Out Calgary

All Dolled Up, Hanna
With more than 4,000 dolls spanning two centuries and three continents, the Doll Palace in Hanna is dedicated to chronicling the history of this ubiquitous toy. Owner Violetta Link began collecting dolls 30 years ago as a hobby, but when an elderly friend bequeathed her an additional 1,400 specimens, the part-time pastime became a full-time business venture. For 17 years now, hundreds of collectors and enthusiasts have descended upon the one-room museum (open March through December annually) to delight in Link’s prized dolls. While she admits younger children find some of the antiques (made from leather, wood or wax) a bit scary, adults are often drawn to the brass-headed 1890 Minerva or 1920s Hair Bow Peggy. “Older people can spend two hours here because they are so drawn to the dolls,” she says. “They rekindle memories of the toys they had or wanted.” 403-854-2756


The Wild Bunch, Edmonton
When Rosalind Christian opened her flower shop, Eden Lilly, on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue in 2007, she knew one thing: each bouquet would be a living work of art. To this end, she hired talented local designers from outside the flower trade and encouraged them to consider flora their new medium. The result: unique, inspired arrangements worthy of a Dutch still life. Humdrum bunches of carnations these are not. Besides being artful, Eden Lilly’s bouquets are also environmentally sound. The flowers are sourced from organic and fair-trade suppliers whenever possible; in summer, those include local greenhouses. As well, Christian devotes shelf space to the work of local artisans and that of a Rwandan crafts co-op. A portion of the shop’s profits also goes to charities close to home. There’s got to be more love in a Valentine’s bouquet like that. 780-758-6991; Eden Lilly


Wheels of Fortune, Sylvan Lake
Known nationwide for his aged Gouda, John Schalkwyk of Sylvan Star Cheese has staked his money on a new 48,000- square-foot production and retail space in order to meet growing demand for his artisan products. Since winning three awards at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2006 and another three last year (the event is held at three-year intervals), the Sylvan Lake-based company has experienced a meteoric rise to fame. Visitors can peruse Sylvan Star’s shelves for its prized Grizzly Extra Aged Gouda, but there are almost a dozen other cheeses to try, including an Edam, aged Gruyères and Westworld’s favourite: a cayenne and green-peppercorn spiced Gouda. The new facility, which opened in November, processes 14,000 litres of milk per week from Schalkwyk’s herd of alfalfa- and grass-fed Holstein cows. Sylvan Star Cheese


Timber Belles, Across Alberta
A group of Alberta industrial designers have become the unlikely heroes of local style. Loyal Loot Collective, a design atelier formed by four friends from Edmonton and Calgary, uses irreverence and imagination to put an inventive twist on everyday objects. Their log bowls (below), made from reclaimed wood, feature original bark on the outside and colourful glaze on the inside. Their delightful Monsieur Dressup coat hangers, in maple, resemble a starched collar that can be hung on the wall. And the Prairie House ceramic vase reveals a miniature landscape upon which a flower becomes a towering tree. Given such originality, it’s no wonder Loyal Loot’s work has earned appearances on Good Morning America and a Martha Stewart show. The Walrus even bestowed the collective with a cool genre: “Lumberjack Chic.” Loyal Loot

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