By Sault Tourism

Enjoy a wide array of fall themed events and festivals in the Soo!

From maple syrup events to historical reenactments, culture days to family fun days and even an Oktoberfest! Experience various events this fall in Sault Ste. Marie, all against a beautiful backdrop of autumn colours. Here are some of the fun things coming up in September and October. As always, stay up to date with all the happenings in Sault Ste. Marie by visiting our events page. 

Fall rendezvous and Culture Days

September 23rd & 24th

The Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site hosts it’s annual Fall Rendezvous and Culture Days event. Demonstrations of drumming, quill work, cannon, militia and voyageurs. Read more here…

Hogan Homstead's 'Fall In Love with Maple Event'

Culture Days

September 23rd – October 16th

Film screening and talks, ‘Meet the Author’, feather wrapping workshops and much, much more. Join us as we celebrate Culture Days 2022 in Sault Ste. Marie. This event highlights our diverse cultures, arts and heritage within a collective hub known as “The Sault Ste. Marie Cultural Corridor”. Read more here…

 
 

WEEKEND FOR TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

September 30th & October 1st

The two-day event offers a free, family-oriented showcase of Indigenous arts, culture, and heritage as well as key educational opportunities surrounding Indigenous history and ongoing reconciliation efforts. Attendees are invited to spend the entire weekend in Baawaating with exclusive coupons and promotions provided by participating partners.

Don’t miss a spectacular drone show on Friday night about Truth and Reconciliation that will be illustrated with over 200 drones over the night sky. Read more here…

2022 Soo Greyhounds Season Opener Block Party

Friday, September 30th

The Soo Greyhounds hockey season kicks off with a tailgate style party before the game! Local food, beer, live music, games, and more! 
 
Block party will be in the GFL Memorial Gardens block (Brock to Dennis Street).
More details to be announced closer to the date. For more information, contact info@saultdowntown.com 
 

Doors Open Event (free entrance!)

Saturday, October 1st

Come and explore many of Sault Ste. Marie’s historical and landmark buildings live and in person for Doors Open Sault Ste. Marie! Attractions include the Algoma Conservancy of Music, Art Gallery of Algoma, Ermatinger Clerque Blockhouse and Old Stone House and more! Read more here…

Thomson Farms' Fall Family Fun

October 1st – 31st

During pumpkin season Thomson Farms hosts activities for everyone in the family to enjoy. Come out and enjoy a tractor wagon ride to the Pumpkin Patch to pick out your pumpkin. There is the Corn Maze and Corn Cannon, as well as fall berry picking. Click here for all the info…

Robertson Cliffs Challange

October 1st – 16th

Run up the Algoma Highland Conservancy Robertson Cliff’s. Bear in Mind Running have the toughest 5km hike in all of Algoma, a virtual race over the first 2 weeks in October! Attempt The RCC as many times as you want over the two weeks. Each participant receives an AHC trucker cap! Proceeds contributed to the silent sport recreation initiative of the conservancy. All the details can be found here!

Algoma Fall Festival

October 6th – 29th

The festival maintains a range of programming that includes music, theatre, dance and the visual arts. This year eight events are planned including Broadsway on Oct 6th and The Family Crow on Oct 7th. For the full range of programming click here!

Oktoberfest 2022

October 14th & 15th

The biggest and best Oktoberfest in Northern Ontario. Locally brewed craft beer, live music and a Munich style Biergarten! Tickets sell out fast so book soon! Click here for all the info.

Algoma’s trail running event has a challenge for everyone

By Conor Mihell

Nick Brash uses one word to describe the vibe of the 2021 Ultra Trail Stokely Creek: “Joyous.” That’s the overwhelming memory for Brash in organizing his second gathering of 175 running enthusiasts in the Algoma Highlands, just north of Sault Ste. Marie. Indeed, after a year’s hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a welcoming mood of happiness, relief and camaraderie emanates from photographs and videos from the much-anticipated UTSC, held last September amid perfect autumn weather and vibrant colours in the hardwood-clad hills.  

“It was like, ‘finally,’” recalls Brash. “We could gather and be one as a community again. Local runners are the driving force of the event. We’re all so excited to show off our backyard. That’s what makes it so inviting for people coming from elsewhere.”

Official Qualifier for UT Mont Blanc

The 2019 UTSC, held at Stokely Creek Lodge in Goulais River, about 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, included 5km, 15km, 32km, 55km and 83km courses. The inaugural event attracted a sell-out crowd of 150 runners from across Ontario and the U.S. Midwest. Brash admits he was floored by the turnout—and equally surprised when the event claimed a Northern Ontario Tourism Innovator award later that year. 

Perhaps the greatest accolade, however, came when the prestigious Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, a world-renowned trail race held annually in France, accepted Brash’s upstart, grassroots event as an official points qualifier. The UTSC was red hot and expectations were sky high—escalating into even greater, pent up anticipation when Brash finally received clearance to deliver the sequel in 2021.

To meet UTMB requirements Brash added a 170-km category for 2021, attracting 15 hard-core entrants (only five managed to finish the punishing long-distance course). Regardless of the race distance, they’re all meant to be tough, the organizer insists. The UTSC routes exploit “every scrap of elevation gain” in the rugged Algoma Highlands, including swooping single-track through intimate hardwood forests, exposed granite ridges and technical rocky climbs and descents.

One of Ontario’s Highest Points of Land

With few (if any, depending on the distance) road segments, an overwhelming sense of wilderness pervades and runners must keep close track of trail markers. The popular 17km category ascends King Mountain, one of Ontario’s highest points of land, affording views to Lake Superior. Brash, an avid runner and founder of Bear in Mind Running, a local trail race organizer, mapped routes with all of his favourite heart-pounding climbs and jaw-dropping lookouts for his flagship UTSC event. 

But all the challenges come with definite rewards. “I tried to include everything that I would want to see if I was a runner coming here for the first time,” adds Brash. “I wanted to make sure to include every possible view that needed to be seen out there.”

World-class Scenery

Having travelled across Canada for running events, it was natural for Sault Ste. Marie-based runner Mir Shafiee to support a race in his own backyard. Shafiee, who has participated in both installments of the UTSC, contends the Algoma Highlands scenery is truly world-class. “Last year, I remember scenes of sunrise, quiet lakes and thick fog,” says Shafiee, 53, who ran the 56km event in 2021. “It felt like I was running in the clouds on Robertson Cliffs.

“Trail running is always a challenge because of the uneven footing,” he adds. “But I never grow tired of it. Stokely is a challenging course. But it will teach you how to be persistent, and how to keep going forward.”

A Race for Everyone

As much as Brash, who has run the epic 100-miler at UTMB in France, admires the long-distance competitors, he maintains that the UTSC is for everyone. The shorter races are popular with youth, first-time runners and high-school athletes alike. As the buzz continues to grow around Stokely’s “ultra”-length races, Brash says continued interest amongst recreational runners in the 5km and 17km categories will ultimately drive registration to his goal of 300-plus participants when UTSC returns on September 23-24, 2022. 

For Ramin Emad, the 5km event at Stokely was a perfect way to wrap up his first season of trail running. Emad, 40, who moved to Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto in 2020, recalls being nearly overwhelmed by the initial uphill climb—and then equally awestruck from the scenery as the trail levelled off. “It’s like you’re on top of the world, surrounded by all the fall colours,” he says. “I had to stop to enjoy the view and just take it all in.”

Of course, Brash is far too busy on race day to lace up his own running shoes. But he shares in the thrilling sense of accomplishment runners feel as they cross the finish line. “It’s like a tailgate party,” he says. “It’s a celebration, not a competition.”

Emad recalls feeling just that as he completed his first UTSC. “It was so friendly and there was such great camaraderie,” he says. “The cowbells were ringing and I felt great.”

Visit the UT Stokely website for more information including how to register. Stay up to date on all the events in Sault Ste. Marie by visiting our Events page here

The Event is Adventure Riding At Its Finest

By Conor Mihell

Crank the Shield is a 3-day mountain biking event held in the Algoma Highlands just north of Sault Ste. Marie. With the city having some of the best mountain bike trails in Ontario, bringing the race back is in 2022 is a perfect fit for the community. Registration for this year’s event, being held from July 29-31, is now open. Sault Tourism spoke to event organizer Sean Ruppel about this year’s installment. 

Backcountry Adventure Riding

In the three years that have passed since the last installment of the Crank the Shield mountain bike stage race, organizer Sean Ruppel has had plenty of time to reflect on what makes this three-day event so special to him. “It’s always been about the type of riding,” says Ruppel, the Muskoka-based owner of Superfly Racing. “It’s all about backcountry adventure riding, out in the wilderness with real mountains and pristine rivers. There’s no better mountain biking anywhere else in the province.”

The long, pandemic-caused wait for the next Crank the Shield event has built up a lot of enthusiasm in Ruppel and race participants. Ruppel’s business plans, coordinates and hosts adventure races across Ontario. In the inaugural, 2018 Sault Ste. Marie event, Ruppel felt like he was sharing a secret treasure with the broader mountain biking community. Ruppel envisioned an epic 230-km route on many of the rugged Algoma trails he had been exploring all his life from a family cottage on Lake Superior. “Make no mistake—this is as ‘real’ as mountain biking gets!” he wrote in the race prospectus.

Rugged Algoma Trails

Ruppel’s mission was accomplished: 180 participants were awestruck (and seriously exhausted) by the expansiveness of the terrain, which included grinding climbs to some of Ontario’s highest peaks, obscure logging roads, multiple river crossings, and swooping single-track. Crank the Shield starts with a wilderness train ride aboard the famous Agawa Canyon Tour Train, and includes overnight stops at Stokely Creek Lodge and Searchmont Resort before wrapping up in Sault Ste. Marie’s Hiawatha Highlands. The 2019 sequel only added fuel to the fire. “It’s like suddenly mountain bikers from elsewhere in Ontario were aware of how epic the off-road riding is up here,” Ruppel notes. “People were starting to look north.”

Then, of course, came all the confusion and uncertainty of Covid-19, which put Crank the Shield on pause. Now, as pandemic restrictions are lifted, Ruppel is equal parts thrilled and refreshed to return to organizing the event July 29 to 31, 2022. Besides the personal pleasure of returning to his own favourite landscape of Canadian Shield mountains, wild rivers and labyrinthine trails, Ruppel believes lockdowns revealed the sense of freedom and great adventures available in Northern Ontario. “So many people have had an awakening,” he says. At the same time, Sault Ste. Marie made huge investments in mountain biking trail infrastructure, expanding the network of single-track at Hiawatha Highlands and investing in new machine-built flow trails for riders of all levels. “The Soo has always been super welcoming and friendly,” Ruppel notes, “but now it’s an even cooler vibe. The city has embraced cycling and the local community of riders is growing rapidly.”

One of the most challenging days ever spent on a bicycle

Ottawa-based cyclist Rob Parniak was pushed to his limits by previous installments of Crank the Shield. “The route was harder than I expected,” recalls Parniak. “The first stage with rough trails, river crossings and lots of climbing was one of the most challenging days I’ve ever spent on a bicycle. Getting through it felt like a commendable accomplishment.”

For Parniak, a Sault Ste. Marie native, Crank the Shield was a reunion. He always recognized the city’s outdoor potential, and was blown away when it was put on full display. “I see a sort of scrappy pride in a lot of Sault people of my generation,” says Parniak. “It’s as if they’re determined to defy the stereotypes. They’re creating their own happiness by building their own place. The cycling scene–the bike shops, the trails, the club, this race–are tangible examples.”

The 2022 Race

Ruppel says the 2022 Crank the Shield race, (July 29-31) will fall back on what made it so successful and impactful in the past, including great hospitality at Stokely Creek and Searchmont and a vibrant after-party at the Bushplane Museum on the waterfront in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. But mostly, Ruppel insists Crank the Shield is all about the riding. “It’s a niche event,” he says. “You have to be a serious off-road rider to take on three days of this type of distance in this kind of terrain.”

Tweaks to the route bring the cumulative three-day distance to 200 km. Upgrades include: an optional climb to the summit of Batchewana Mountain, capped at 20 participants, for those seeking a high-adventure, quad-pumping climb to Algoma’s highest point that won’t be counted in total race time; improved single- and double-track segments in the Algoma Highlands and Searchmont portions of the race; and a velvety smooth, fast finish on 35-km of purpose-built mountain bike trails at Sault Ste. Marie’s Hiawatha Highlands on day three. 

“This event has made such an impact on everyone who has ridden it,” says Ruppel, “and after the few years away, I’m excited to get back at it. This is my opus, my dream race. I can’t wait to provide riders with an introduction to my favourite place on earth.” 

Visit the Crank the Shield website for more information including how to register.