The Highlands Christmas Shindig is returning for its 10th anniversary show later this month.
Taking place at the Haliburton Legion Nov. 24, the annual fundraiser will have a different look this year. Drew Allen has come on board as lead organizer, pivoting from the variety show format that has been in place since the Shindig’s inception to something, he says, will allow for greater audience participation.
Ten-piece blues band Adverse Conditions will be the feature act, performing a variety of hits from popular acts like Abba, Shania Twain, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. There will be several other musical guests appearing throughout the night.
“I was a part of the show last year when there were 10 acts on the stage. Most people did one or two songs, and it was great, but there was very little audience participation. We want it to be completely different this year,” Allen said. “Because we’re dealing with one act, the audience is going to be very much encouraged to get up, dance, and be part of the show.”
Amy Brohm and Victoria Bingham will be back as hosts, recreating their popular Marple Syrup and Patsy Pine characters.
The change in venue – from the Northern Lights Performing Arts Centre to the Legion – was done to keep costs down and ensure as much money as possible can be directed towards Fuel for Warmth, the Shindig’s primary beneficiary. The event has raised in the ballpark of $30,000 annually since its inception in 2014.
After founder, Mike Jaycock, moved out of the County and several other long-term committee members decided to pursue other things, Allen said the Shindig was in real danger this year. That’s why he decided to step into more of an organizational role.
“The committee was going to disband, people were saying they didn’t think the Shindig was going to happen this year,” Allen said. “I thought to myself, I’d hate to see this really successful thing, that helps so many people, die… so I stepped in. Now we have a refreshed committee of 12 or 13 people, and we’re really excited about this new direction.”
Tickets go on sale this Friday, Nov. 10 and can be purchased at Up River Trading in Haliburton and Minden. The show will begin at 8:30 p.m. – giving people lots of time to get in the door after attending the Haliburton Santa Claus Parade, which is happening the same night. Allen expects there to be between 150 and 200 people in attendance.
“We’re really hoping for a sellout. Last year’s Shindig, ticket sales weren’t as strong as was hoped. Now that things are back to normal after COVID, we expect this will be a popular event,” he said.
The show will also be livestreamed online, with the Shindig partnering with local videographer Tammy Rea. Allen said he hopes this will assist with fundraising efforts, as people will be able to donate from the comfort of their living room.
He’s set a fundraising target of between $35,000 and $40,000.
“I didn’t understand the importance of Shindig until last year, when I was able to speak to some of the people in attendance, and people from Fuel for Warmth. I didn’t realize how many families in Haliburton need help buying things like propane, fuel oil, or firewood,” Allen said. “Fuel for Warmth helps close to 1,000 families every year, so this is a really good cause.”
Brohm, who works with the Haliburton County Paramedic Service, added, “So many people in this community are struggling in silence. People don’t know how, or where to ask for help, so they’ll go without. We’ve referred a lot of people to places like Fuel for Warmth just from responding to calls and seeing they’re living in a home without any heating. People would be shocked if they really knew how many people in this community were struggling.”
For more information on Fuel for Warmth, or to donate, visit fuelforwarmth.com.