Downtown Dreams Contest announces top four finalists
L to R: Vinh Mac (Fenelon Falls Brewing Co.), Jennifer Bacon (Yoga with Jenny), Marie Rayner (Soulful Expressions), Eliana Evenaar and Phil Blais (Creation Café), Leisha Newtown (Economic Development Officer – Downtown, City of Kawartha Lakes), Mayor Andy Letham and Sandy Greenberg (provided training to Downtown Dreams contestants).

Downtown Dreams Contest announces top four finalists

in Around Town/Business/Community/Local News by

From yoga to craft beer, from coffee and art, to health and wellness, four Kawartha Lakes’ entrepreneurs are making their ‘downtown dreams’ a reality.

The City of Kawartha Lakes recently hosted the Downtown Dreams Business Showcase at the Academy Theatre in Lindsay where attendees from across the City came to celebrate and congratulate the finalists of the Downtown Dreams contest.

Downtown Dreams was a contest for new and existing businesses to open, expand or move into the downtowns of Coboconk or Norland, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay or Omemee. The finalists of the contest are those businesses that most highly demonstrate passion, enthusiasm, compelling business objectives, and knowledge in their field. Each of the four finalists represented one of the four target areas and received $4,840 worth of gifts and prizes.

“I’m really proud of the Downtown Dreams program and the businesses that are starting and growing in Kawartha Lakes,” says Leisha Newton, economic development officer at the City of Kawartha Lakes. “This is a direct result of the hard work and creative ideas of our contestants and I look forward to seeing their businesses thrive in the months to come.”

Mayor Andy Letham announced the four finalists of the contest:

The winner of the Fenelon Falls area is Fenelon Falls Brewing Company founded by Agatha and Vinh Mac.

Fenelon Falls Brewing Co. was founded by husband and wife, Vinh and Agatha Mac. Agatha is a first generation Canadian of Polish ancestry and Vinh immigrated to Canada in the 1970s and settled in the Fenelon Falls area.

“Fenelon Falls Brewing Company is an expression of all of that we have experienced as Canadians. It’s about embracing opportunities and applying the effort necessary to put a bit of good into the world. It is a way of saying thanks, playing a part in the life of the community and paying forward the tradition of hospitality that meant so much to us,” says Vinh Mac. Fenelon Falls Brewing Co. is designed to provide a place for people to gather, sit a while and have an enjoyable experience. It will grow to include a taproom and an event space.

The brewery is slated to open in October. Meanwhile, Vinh Mac says that they are “excited to get their beers (Vienna Lager and Red Ale) into grocery stores and LCBOs sooner than that. ”

We are in the final stages of getting our beer into groceries, and we have completed our lab analysis from LCBO.”

On June 15 there will be a beer launch party and all proceeds will be given to the Community Foundation of Kawartha Lakes. The party will take place from 7-10 pm at the Fenelon Falls Senior Citizens’ Club located at 58 Murray Street in Fenelon Falls. Tickets cost $25 per person and includes two drinks and appetizers. Purchasing tickets can be done online here.

The Coboconk or Norland winner is Yoga with Jenny by Jennifer Bacon.

Bacon moved with her husband (an area native) back to the Kawartha Lakes about a year ago. Trained as a yoga instructor, she quickly found that there were no fitness-related social activities to do in the Coboconk area.  She decided to start her own restorative yoga practice in the Coboconk area and began to attract people, mostly women over the age of forty, that enjoyed the social activity and wanted to bring more awareness to their body and mind connection.

“I want to create a space where you can reconnect with yourself, and the community, all while having fun,” says Bacon. She plans on extending her services outside of the Coboconk area and is willing to travel within Kawartha Lakes to business or homes that have arranged groups of at least 8 to 10 people. Bacon emphasizes how important learning to breathe correctly and move in gentle ways is in order to sleep and feel well.

The Omemee winner is Creation Café  inspired by Eliana Evenaar and Phil Blais.

Evenaar and Blais plan to offer excellent coffee, soup, sandwiches, and baked goods on Omemee beach in a temporary food truck for their first season. Eventually they plan on opening a more permanent structure which will showcase local artist’s work. After extensive travelling with their jobs in the medical field and after Evenaar fought breast cancer and won, they decided that they wanted to focus on what they loved doing and focus on recovery and a slower pace of life.

“Omemee is a quaint town with so much potential and in desperate need of a place where family and friends can gather, hang out, and create inspirational pieces of art, while enjoying baked goods and fresh ground coffee. In a world full of technology, it is nice for families to step back and return to their roots and spend quality time together,” says Eliana Evenaar.

Blais is also quick to point out that there is nowhere to get a good cup of coffee on that commuting stretch of highway seven. “If you don’t stop at Fowlers Corners for coffee, then there is nothing until you reach Lindsay,” says Blais. They are waiting on permits for logos which need some touch up, but Evenaar says they “plan to be your ‘get up and go'” very soon.

The Lindsay winner is Soulful Expressions founded by Marie Rayner.

Rayner was introduced to Expressive Arts when volunteering at a hospice centre and was drawn to the power of art and its benefits. This led Rayner to complete her Expressive Arts Certificate to compliment her prior nursing and teaching experience.

“I started my business, Soulful Expressions, offering health and wellness workshops, using expressive arts as the channel,” says Rayner. Originally offering workshops in the Little Britain area, Rayner says that she wants to expand into Lindsay. She would like to work with schools and senior’s organizations in group of ten or more people. She adds that there are “psycho social and empathy” benefits from practicing the Expressive Arts.

Individuals are inspired to be creative which can lead to self-exploration and therapeutic benefits in an enjoyable experience. “I love it and it is fun,” says Rayner.

For more information on the Downtown Dreams contest, the finalists and the Kawartha Lakes business community, visit the Downtown Dreams section on the City’s website.

Joli Scheidler-Benns is a PhD candidate in Health Policy and Equity at York University. She is a sessional professor for UOIT's Faculty of Education. She serves in a Research, Strategy, and Community Development role for The Lindsay Advocate.

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