Cathedral Village Arts Festival 2015


The Carillon gets all artsy fartsy

This past Saturday was the annual Cathedral Village Arts Festival. I was out of the country for the last two, so I was looking forward to finally being able to go this year. My main objective was to take photos, both for the Carillon and for myself; however, the event was packed, so getting a good shot was a bit tricky. I usually find that the busking stations along the street provide the best photo opportunities and if I find a good subject, I make sure to throw a coin or two into their guitar case.

Violins and guitars were common, but one man added his own twist: he built his own electric guitars out of repurposed materials; the centre of one guitar was a Volvo hubcap. It gave his blues and rock and roll a unique look and sound.

There were other unique acts that I hadn’t seen before. A young boy performed as a mime, pulling invisible ropes and challenging others to contests of strength. A group of women did hula-hoop tricks, mixing in acrobatics as they spun the hoop around various body parts with amazing speed. The music and dance ranged from hip-hop to classical.

Another good photo op was the parade, a regular occurrence at the festival. This year was well-organized and topped previous years I attended. The Pile of Bones Brass Band, who created a strong New Orleans vibe, led the procession. They were followed by a number of young girls dressed as birds, one girl squawking as she tossed what looked like Easter eggs at the crowd. Two men on stilts and a unicyclist followed close behind. There were a couple large, brightly-coloured, masked figures, and some belly dancers. Young and old participated; a group of eccentrically dressed “grannies” rounded off the group.

Every festival, I make it a point to buy at least one item, but with so many booths (and a limited budget), it can be difficult to choose. I usually make a couple circuits along the length of the street, keeping track of items of interest then buy something later in the day. There were a number of prints and t-shirts that caught my eye, but this year I chose a Buddhism-inspired bead bracelet. I had actually missed it the first couple times around; the creator was sharing a table and had a solitary stand of bracelets on the back corner. I’m glad I take my time looking around; you really need a full day to take everything in.

Another important part of the event is the food and drinks. A number of local shops were enjoying the crowds the festival brought in, and many set up their own stands. I always try to purchase something local. It was pretty hot out that day, so I went all out and got a triple-scoop waffle cone from local favourite Dessart: kahlua, coffee, and rum & raisin.

The ice cream hit the spot, but later I felt I needed something a little more substantial. One food truck serving African fare came highly recommended; bonus: the line was super short. I got masala fries, described as African poutine: thick cut fries with a spicy curry sauce over-top. I also ordered a beef samosa to go with it.

Near the end of the day, I had the opportunity to talk to artist Melanie Monique Rose, who first became involved in the festival in 2007. She is a multi-media artist that tries to do something a little different every year, taking on various roles in the years she’s been involved. This year her booth featured brightly colored pillows created from vintage and repurposed fabrics, as well as jewelry.

“I like sharing my art with other people. I find kids are really attracted to my artwork.”

Children used sidewalk chalk to decorate the ground of her display throughout the day. She emphasized the community aspect of the festival.

“It’s about getting to meet new people, seeing friends you haven’t seen for a long time.”

A number of artists use the festival to make money, but it’s also about something more. The festival creates an environment that can both influence creativity and strengthen the bonds within the art community.

1 comment

  1. thereginamom 1 June, 2015 at 15:30

    I’m happy you were able to make it out to the Cathedral Village Arts Festival (CVAF) this year. As Chairperson of the event, I must clarify that the Street Fair is the culmination of the festival. It runs for six days, offering more than 100 events and opportunities for the creative celebration of community through the arts. Every year, for almost 25 years running, the CVAF begins with a community Parade and Picnic on Victoria Day followed by a week of arts-based events and activities in the primary artistic disciplines as well as experimental and inter-/multi-disciplinary art ending with the Street Fair which this year brought more than 50,000 to the Cathedral neighbourhood. I look forward to my upcoming time as not-Chairperson so that I can enjoy shopping the Street Fair again!

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