Thanksgiving with its turkey dinners and hopefully not-too-awkward family gatherings is behind us. Canada's greatest Bavarian festival, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, is in full swing. Communitech's favourite holiday, Halloween, is just around the corner. If you've never been to the Hub on Halloween, you really need to visit for the Hub-o-ween costume contest. If that's not enough for you, well, there's also an important federal election next week.

Fall can be a whirlwind. Here are three ways that you can get informed, get spooked and get some art this season in Waterloo Region.

Get informed

The sea of blue, red, green and orange signs around town means one thing: it's election time. Before you head to the polls on Monday, Oct. 21, head on over to to learn more about your riding's candidates and what their party platforms mean for you, your family and our community.

The site is built and maintained by the local CivicTechWR meetup group. First created for the 2018 municipal election, the site has full profiles on every candidate for the federal election. "There's a lot of inconsistencies with campaign content," said Hayley Rutherford, a volunteer with CivicTechWR. "The sites vary, there's missing links to social accounts – it was really difficult to find complete information on every candidate."

Rutherford joined CivicTechWR in 2018 right before that year's municipal elections and found the project especially useful as she planned her votes. "I was one of those people who would look at school board trustees and just pick four names without really knowing the impact their policies would have on children here. But I was able to use the site to learn more about the candidates and make an informed choice about whom I was voting for."

Many of the CivicTechWR volunteers who maintain the site aren't in tech, but want to give back. "I'm the use case for non-tech people who use our tools," joked Rutherford.

One change from 2018 to today that Rutherford really appreciates this time around is on how data for the site is updated. "We used to have CSV files in GitHub that we would update and do pull requests. Now we have Google Sheets that we can update and the site pulls in new data every 10 minutes automatically. It's much easier and faster."

If you're eating lunch at your desk, head on over to to learn more and, while you're at it, set yourself a reminder to vote on Monday, Oct. 21. If you're interested in helping with more civic projects, visit CivicTechWR to learn when their next meetup is happening.

Get spooked

Plugin KW is a local not-for-profit started by the team at Vidyard that puts together events at unique locations around the region in support of some great local charities. This Halloween, they have something scary planned at one of the spookiest buildings on King Street.

Sure, you've probably survived a haunted house at Halloween. But what about a haunted funeral home? The team at Plugin KW are bringing their infamous Plugin Halloween Party back to the Ratz-Bechtel Funeral Home on Friday, Oct. 25 for one final time before the building is partially demolished to become part of the new Station Park development.

The building was originally constructed in 1897 by Kitchener businessman Jacob Kaufman and was converted into a funeral home in 1949. At its peak in the 1980s, the home performed over 600 funerals a year – and for one last night, you can experience an eerily awesome evening that will put your nerves to the test.

"We did our first Halloween party at Ratz-Bechtel in 2017 with ghost hunters and fortune tellers," said Mike Stark from the Plugin KW team. "The theme this year is the funeral home coming back to life one last time."

To make this happen, Plugin KW has partnered with local theatre production company Green Light Arts, which "is helping to make some cool stuff happen all night," Stark said. "There will be people telling stories throughout the home and some mini scavenger hunts that will culminate in one big performance that brings the funeral home to lif...uh, I mean death."

The evening has a great cause too: raising money for Supportive Housing of Waterloo (SHOW). Their mission is to provide housing and support services to people in our community searching for affordable housing. "We know the impact that gentrification can have on people and SHOW is doing great work to help make our community better for everyone," said Stark.

Get some art

When you're on a tour of the Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener, one thing you'll notice is the art around our space. From full wall murals to a photographic history tour of makers in our community, we're committed to showcasing the work of local artists.

After a successful first year, we're bringing back our Communitech Gallery Wall program. We are officially inviting local artists to apply to display their work on our gallery wall for the 2020 season. The main display wall is nine feet five inches by eight feet five inches, and you can choose as many or few pieces to display as you’d like. In addition to selecting one artist to host their art in this spot for each month of the upcoming year, this year, we’ll also be offering each artist the opportunity to use our event space at Area 151 to host their own art show and reception! Also new this year - we’ve added a museum stand to this space where artists can showcase information such as inspiration for and price of each of their pieces on display.

[The gallery wall at Communitech

Communitech photo: Anthony Reinhart

To apply, all you have to do is fill out our form where you will be asked to submit a link to your portfolio and a short bio. Before applying, please make sure you read the Art Wall rules on the form. Applications are being accepted through Nov. 4, 2019 and the gallery will run monthly from January through December, 2020. We hope this will be a great opportunity for the arts and tech communities to continue to engage, break down silos and, with luck, inspire like-minded initiatives.

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Well, I’ve got news for you pal, I see and hear that...The Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre presents "Evil Dead: The Musical" on Friday, Oct. 18. The musical takes all the elements of the cult classic films (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness) and combines them for one of the most crazy, hilarious and bloody theatrical experiences of all time. The fifth annual Kitchener Public Library DIY Festival is back on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. Come learn something new, find a new hobby, acquire a new skill, join or support a local organization, start a new business or share your do-it-yourself enthusiasm. The Uptown Waterloo Great Barrel Race has been moved to this Sunday, Oct. 20.