A densely populated and industrial area of Ontario, Barrie was hit by one of the most devastating tornadoes in Canadian history in 1985. More than one quarter of Canadian's population live within a 160 km of Barrie where tourism is a key economic factor. On the western shore of Lake Simcoe, historical Barrie with a swathe of old buildings to gawk at and a stunning waterfront, has over 300 hectares of lush green parkland to play in. Annual festivals are in abundance to draw the crowds such as the Jazz & Blues Festival for the music officianardos in June, the Outdoor Film Series from May to June, the Barrie Waterfront Festival in May, the Craft Beer & BBQ Festival in July and for the paddlers, The Barrie Dragon Boat Festival in August.
Downtown on Dunlop Street you will find masses of boutique shops to haunt, pubs to swill a drink or two and luscious restaurants dishing up excellent food. Summer is when everyone invades the beaches from Minet's Point Beach to Centennial Beach or get out on the water in Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe. Winter is a wonderland of white when snow tubing, snowboarding, skiing and ice fishing become the main things to do. A vibrant performing art scene gives life to the Theater by the Bay and Talk is Free Theater. Many professional and amateur productions can be watched at the Mady Center for the Performing Arts or the Georgian Theater. For more cultural hits, head to the MacLaren Art Center that was the inspiration for the innovative sculptures littered around the town and has a permanent display of both local and international artists. Meander along Lakeshore Mews for independent artists' studios and galleries where you can purchase some one-of-a-kind pieces of work. There is an abundance of arty creative folks around in the fields of pottery, textile and jewelers that will make it hard to keep your wallet intact. There is the Barrie Speedway for the rev heads and for the females that drool at men in uniform; there is the Canadian Forces Day and Air Show.
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