Heads Up

THE WEEKENDER: Hot air balloons, armwrestling, Fat Cats, and three more ways to enjoy the last long weekend of summer

GATINEAU HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL
Between this festival and last month’s Sound of Light fireworks shows, it seems that Gatineau has a knack for filling the sky with pretty things. Balloons from Canada and abroad  in all sizes, colours, and shapes (some personal faves include T-Rex, Pepe the Skunk, and SpyderPig, which is exactly what it sounds like) will float above the Outaouais this weekend. Spectators can watch the goings-on from the comfort of terra firma, or for an extra $200, get amongst the action with a balloon ride. There’s also a midway, face painting, extreme sports demos, buskers, fireworks, and an impressive musical lineup that features Roger Hodgson of Supertramp fame and former Moist frontman David Usher. Sept. 2 to 5. One-day wristbands: Friday $24, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday $19. See website for full ticket info. Parc de la Baie, Gatineau, 1-800-668-8383, www.montgolfieresgatineau.com

CANADIAN NATIONAL ARMWRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
While typically employed to settle an argument or prove unequivocally whose biceps are the buffest, armwrestling has a vibrant life outside of bars and basements. The national championships of this hulky hobby are taking place in Ottawa this year, with competitors from all over the country gathering to flex and strain their way to glory. The top two competitors in each division will qualify to represent Canada at the World Armwrestling Championships in Kazakhstan. Qualification rounds for adults have already taken place, but kids can still sign up on Friday evening or Saturday morning. Who knows, you might have a mini Hercules on your hands. Sept. 2 to 5. Admission is free for spectators. Albert at Bay Suite Hotel, 435 Albert St., www.ontarioarmwrestling.com

A-MAIZE-ING HARVEST FESTIVAL
In case the prominent supermarket displays didn’t tip you off, it’s corn season in the capital, and the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum is celebrating the copious crop with the A-maize-ing Harvest Festival. Visitors can learn about what life was like for farmers in the 1920s and 1930s and how the annual corn harvest prepared them for winter and instilled a sense of community. The museum’s 28 heritage buildings, which have been recently relocated, are open for exploring. There are also agricultural demonstrations, crafts, games, and a bonfire featuring a sing-a-long, tasty treats, and of course, a corn boil and roast. Sept. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $7, senior and students $5, families $18. Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Rd., Cumberland, 613-833-3059, www.ottawa.ca/museums

NCC BEACHES
Enjoy the bittersweet (admittedly more bitter than sweet) feeling of one final swim in Gatineau Park beaches and at Leamy Lake Beach. Monday, Sept. 5 is the last day that these beaches will be open to the public for the season, so if the weather holds out, grab your gear and head out for some sun, sand, and swimming. It’s also the end of Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays (Sept. 4), Mosaika Sound and Light Show (Sept.8) and the Discover the Hill and National War Memorial interpretation programs (Sept. 5). Sigh. ‘Til next year. Leamy Lake beach, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., $7 per vehicle. Gatineau Park beaches, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $10 per vehicle. 613-239-5000, www.canadascapital.gc.ca

OTTAWA FAT CATS
While that other local sports team failed to entertain us past the regular season this year, the Fat Cats have made it into the final round of the Intercounty Baseball League playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Although they’re currently down two games to the Brantford Red Socks, they’re by no means out. Games three and four of the best-of-seven series take place this weekend, and management is so sure that the team will come out victorious that they’re offering a “Guaranteed Winning Weekend”: if the Cats lose either game, fans who purchased their tickets for both games online will receive a season pass for the 2012 season. It’s a win-win! Game three, Sept. 3, 7:05 p.m. Game four, Sept. 4, 2:05 p.m. Rain date, Sept. 5. Online prices: Adults $12, seniors and students $8, children six to 12 $6, children under six, military members and veterans free. See website for full ticket info. Ottawa Stadium, 300 Coventry Rd., 613-749-2020, www.ottawafatcats.com

URBAN CRAFT
‘Local’ and ‘DIY’ are the buzz words du jour, and it doesn’t get much more local or DIY than this craft market. The only one of its kind in Ottawa, Urban Craft will open its doors for the first time this weekend. Shoppers can pick up gourmet, local, vegan, and artisanal food, as well as accessories, natural body products, jewellery, stuff for the kids and a whole lot more. The fair takes place on the first Saturday of every month and vendors change monthly, so there’s always something new to peruse. Sept. 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, 1233 Wellington St. W., www.urbancraftmarket.com