August 1, 2010 with guest host Tina Srebotnjak
"What is your favourite summer festival?"
Guests and Links
Guest host Tina Srebotnjak's introduction to the August 1, 2010 program:
Our topic today: "Tell us about your favourite summer festival."
Ah - the long weekend in August! Pretty much midway through the summer, and all seems - at least for the moment -right with the world. Politicians out on the barbecue circuit, cottagers on the dock of the bay, and city folk in their backyards or restaurant patios.
Summer time is also festival season -the country is awash in celebrations, big and small, and that's our topic today. We' d like to hear about your favourite summer festivals and what they celebrate -food, music, comedy, knitting -we want to know!
Here in Toronto where I am, there really is an embarrassment of riches. We've been through Luminato -our high falutin arts festival, Gay Pride, the fringe theatre festival and the Masala, Mendhi, Masti festival of South Asian food and culture. Yesterday a million people turned out for the music and pageantry of the annual Caribana parade.
And that's just Toronto. In cities, towns and hamlets across the country, there are festivals celebrating everything from jazz in Montreal to cheese rolling on the slopes of Whistler.
We'd like to hear about the festivals you enjoy taking part in, and what you like about them. Maybe it's a ritual in your family, something you've been doing for years. Perhaps it's an event you came across on your travels that charmed you with its originality, or weirdness.
Our topic today : Tell Us about your favorite summer festival.
I'm Tina Srebotnjak ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- Anne Lagacé Dowson
Broadcaster and arts reporter.
- John Soles
Chair of the 2010 Digby Scallop Days festival.
- Whitney Doldron
Caribana's youngest band leader.
- Karen Dubois
Founding member of the Dawson City Music Festival and executive director of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.
- Bruce Horak
Actor, comedian, musician, and longtime touring Fringe Festival performer.
- Kathi Thorarinson Neal
President of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba in Gimli.
- Martha Skinner
Last year's female grand champion of the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition in Whistler, BC.
- A few choice summer festivals
Hope you can plug the Centennial Fest in Cochrane, Ontario on the program this week. It is the weekend of August 13-15th ... and marks the 100th anniversary of arguably the Stubbornest town in Canada.
Cochrane was ravaged by fire - four times in its first six and half years - and was devastated by a typhoid epidemic shortly after. But they kept rebuilding...
While I never attended this one, I heard people talking about it on one of our family's cross-country trips by Greyhound. The word is that the place to be for a July 1st party is the lake front at Kenora.
Many, many great cowboy poetry and music festivals take place annually. The
British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society and Alberta Cowboy
Poetry Association maintain good festival
event calendars (and so do we, for all of North America, at
This is so timely, and much appreciated. While people enjoy a day, or weekend...or longer festival, behind the scenes tireless volunteers commit time, energy, talent, knowledge and a never say die attitude to staging every single event that you will be hearing about today.
As a festival organizer of the Ottawa Valley's great Celtfest, we work 11 months of the year to put on a weekend event in July.
This July, vandals slashed our beautiful big stage system, and so we are now organizing a Festival in a Month.. called MAVFest...Musicians Against Vandalism...to turn a negative into a positive, to raise funds to repair the damages, and to show here and right across Canada that festival organizers will not be deterred by the actions of a few misguided shows.
When bitten by the festival bug it becomes a way of life.
And the best reward, is to hear an audience applaud at a magical performance, with smiles on their faces.
Celebrating at summer festivals is a great way to contend with winter, and all the other stuff out there.
The Saskatchewan Festival of Words held in Moose Jaw every July has to be the most unique Festival in all of Canada. For four days, participants get to listen to over 35 authors read from their works. This year's Festival included everyone from Lorna Crozier to Yann Martel to M.G Vassanji to Judy Fong Bates to Dianne Warren and many others. The Festival begins on a Thursday with various workshops available to aspiring writers and storytellers. Phyllis Nakonechny launched her book Vidh. A slide presentation by Margaret Hryniuk and Larry Easton introduced us to the Legacy of Stone buildings found in this great province. There was a Tribute Luncheon to the Moose Jaw Public Library where most of the sessions are held. I could go on and on and on. It is very over whelming and the only problem is that it is not possible to hear every author---there is so much from which to choose. I have only missed one Festival of Words since its inception 15 years' ago by Gary Hyland, Moose Jaw author.
The Dawson City International Short Film Festival. Where else can you soak up the atmosphere of a vintage historic town, stay at one of the best hotels in Canada (according to National Geographic ) and watch 80 or 90 short films that cover the spectrum from stunning to whimsical?
British Coumbia has a rich history of fine summer festivals. Right now I am attending the wonderful Hornby Festival which was established 29 years ago! And it is one of my favorites. Hornby is a festival that brings a variety of artists from all across Canada and beyond. They perform in intimate venues, small halls, beaches, and forests. The music is never far from the audience!
Hornby Festival is one of many in our province. There are fiddle festivals and bluegrass festivals and classical festivals and art festivals and theatre festivals like the Fringe.
These all create a strong cultural community and life long friends. They encourage young people to pursue their artistic interests. Families attend together and the festivals become family tradition.
Unfortunately for the arts in British Columbia the provincial government has slashed funding for all these festivals. The festivals are affordable for the less well to do and for families and they make a wonderful summer experience. I would urge everyone in BC who has enjoyed a festival to make a point of contacting their MLA to make their concerns known.
Victoria, British Columbia
I spent a few weeks in France this year and took part in a wonderful festival that occurs every year to celebrate the longest day of the year - the summer solstice. Every town and almost every village in the country has a 3-4 day festival as the days approach the solstice. Music of all sorts - jazz, rock, reggae, classical - it was wonderful and as I see from Wikipedia, has been adopted by many countries - including Canada. I don't know where it takes place in Canada, but if it's anything like the festival in France, it should be wonderful.
For a number of years I've been a supporter of summer Shakespeare
festivals in Edmonton and Saskatoon.
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan has become a staple for lovers of the
bard's work for many years. A bit younger is the Free Will Players
event in Edmonton. Both events always present energetic, artfully
convincing and unique performances.
They are absolutely affordable. I can't speak for freebies at
Saskatoon, but I do know that Edmonton's event has Pay What you Will
(pun intended) on twice a week and a local credit union bought
admission for anyone with a jr. high or senior high student card to
attend on Sundays.
Edmonton's fest is done for this summer, but Saskatoon's continues to
I am enjoying your show, and thought I'd send you information about my 2 favourite festivals - one that has been my favourite for more than 30 years, and the other for about a week.
First, there is the Kimberley International Old Time Accordion Championship in Kimberley British Columbia, which has been going for about 35 years. This was the brainchild of the first hired Platzl Musician, back in the 1970's when Kimberley was trying to reinvent itself as a Bavarian site to attract tourism to boost a flagging economy when the mine was about to close.
He (Edwin Erickson) and a fellow musician friend conceived and organized the first one, and it has never looked back. Nowadays, in addition to a very successful competition which promotes excellence on the accordion, there is daily dancing downtown in the Platzl all week, there are evening concerts by musicians from all over the world - USA, Norway, Austrailia, Ukraine have all been represented over the years. And there is a dance every evening following the concert. Several thousand attend, the music is magical.
The second festival is the Back to Batoche festival we came across last week in Batoche, Saskatchewan. This is organized and operated by the Metis Nation, with representation from Metis organizations throughout the west. The music was spectacular! The promotion of and celebration of Metis culture was simply astonishing. Again, thousands of people, jigging, singing, dancing, playing, and enjoying the fine Saskatchewan summer evening in an alcohol free setting. We loved it. We will be going back next year.
To highlight how some of the the new adventurers to the far north
arrive at Dawson city, it should be known that a good number of
people, including ourselves, canoed to the Dawson Music Festival on
the very fast moving Yukon river. You can canoe all the way from
Whitehorse. It is truly a unique aspect to a very unique festival.
Dwyer and Sheila Sullivan, Jim Loney and Fr. Bob
As I am travelling through the Alberta prairies making our way back to
Neepawa with my wonderful mother-in-law, we are enjoying
the vast landscape and sunny skies listening to your show wondering
why the Neepawa Lily festival has not been called in yet. The locals
and visitors come from around the globe to pay homage to the lily and
the town is filled with gardens and tours galore! Parades, musicians
and artisans fill the streets. Renunions happen, and kids come he from
My lovely MIL missed it to come and visit us in BC to go camping with
the grandkids in Pemberton. A true sacrifice from a very patriotic
local Neepawa residence!
I'd be surprised if I'm the first, but in case I am....the Annual Blueberry Festival just kicked off in Sioux Lookout this weekend. It's an amazing collection of events for all ages and interests! It brings people "home" every year.
Come and see Blueberry Bert!
Sioux Lookout, Ontario
I'm part of a group of mad musicians who decided to add another festival to Edmonton's substantial festival scene: "Rhythms of Our Own" Drum and Dance Festival. Strictly speaking we're not a summer festival, as our first one last year and this year's are in September, but we need the exposure.
We're a grassroot organization without any kind of government or corporate funding, and our focus is to promote percussion music in all its beautiful forms, and the dance forms that go along with it. We promote our talented musicians as well promote drumming as an accessible art form for any age group.
This year we are fortunate enough to partner with another great organization, "Arts on the Ave", who have done so much to revitalize the 118 Avenue in Edmonton with wonderful arts and festival programming. Our festival is on Sunday, September 12, which is part of "Arts on the Ave" Kaleido Festival, which runs on Friday and Saturday, September 10 and 11th and has a multitude of free, family-friendly events.