Horseshoe Resort is hosting Rogers Hometown Hockey this weekend for two days of hockey-themed activities, live music and local vendors followed by a Monday night viewing party.
After last year’s hiatus, Rogers Hometown Hockey is back on the road for its eighth season, showcasing communities across Canada through hockey tales and talents. The tour kicked off with stops in North Dumfries, Lindsay and Belleville before coming to Oro-Medonte from Nov. 6 to 8. Festivities at the resort run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday with special guest Darryl Sittler, a Toronto Maple Leafs legend, in attendance both days. The Monday night viewing party starts at 6:30 p.m., featuring a pre-game show with hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone before the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Los Angeles Kings.
“It’s just such a beautiful part of the province, such a beautiful part of the country, so there are places that I think Canadians know about and Oro-Medonte might not be one of those places,” Slone said. “Unless you live in the area, it might not be a name that seems familiar to you, so what’s really nice is, on top of the hockey stories, we actually get to geographically introduce people to a gorgeous part of the world.”
The community has been showing support for the festival throughout the first week of November by dressing up their homes and storefronts with red and white decorations. As part of their stop in Oro-Medonte, MacLean and Slone will catch up with former Barrie Shark and aspiring Olympian Jessie Eldridge to talk about Beijing 2022 as well as the growth and change in women’s hockey.
The hosts will also visit Glen Oro Farm for a boutique trail horse riding experience along with featuring Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane, a protégé of former Barrie Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk, for their Sobey’s Hometown Heroes segment.
MacLean remembers visiting Horseshoe Resort in 1987 for a golf tournament on the same day the Maple Leafs traded away Steve Thomas, Rick Vaive and Bob McGill, and he’s excited to make his way back to the resort to hear more about Oro-Medonte’s hockey history.
“I’m looking forward to the stories we get to tell and to meet Bob Garner,” MacLean said. “Bob, he’s an octogenarian, but you’d never know it. He looks really young and he played in the 50s and 60s. He was probably the best player in Oro-Medonte, he had a 10-goal game, so I’m going to get to meet him on Sunday.”
Festival activities include everything from interactive augmented reality experiences to hockey-themed games and an outdoor ball hockey rink. The weekend will also include live music from Ontario natives Laura Cavacece and Carl Dixon.
Entry is free, but attendees must register for digital tickets to comply with capacity limits. Other safety measures include required proof of vaccination, mandatory face masks, contact tracing and more. Though things look a little different for the tour this year, the core of the show remains the same.
“I can’t tell you how many times I do the Stanley Cup playoffs after having been on the road all year and all the things that you learn in the 25 stops during the season seem to come up during the Stanley Cup playoffs,” MacLean said. “Stories of how somebody made it, stories of resilience, stories of a secret recipe for success. Some coach that’s figured out a way to motivate or to tactically gain an advantage and it’s unique to that small town or that person. It’s a great teacher, that’s the biggest thing I could say about what it does for me is what travel has always done for humanity—it just opens your mind.”
Hometown Hockey’s other tour stops will be announced on a rolling basis throughout the season to ensure compliance with changing COVID restrictions and regulations from province to province.
Slone said she feels extremely fortunate to have a platform where they can share the stories of so many people and places, and she hopes kids at home see themselves reflected in their coverage. She loves meeting people across Canada and hearing their stories, and Oro-Medonte is no exception.
“It’s just so nice to see people’s smiles, as much as we can see them while masked, and I think we all just need that sense of community right now,” Slone said. “It’s special for the communities and the places we visit. It’s special for us too.”
To register for digital tickets to the Rogers Hometown Hockey Festival in Oro-Medonte, click here. For more information, visit the Rogers Hometown Hockey website, and turn on Sportsnet at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 to watch the pre-game show with Ron MacLean and Tara Slone.