The transformation of Saint John's waterfront into a village of shipping containers to host the Area 506 music and cultural festival on New Brunswick Day weekend is well underway.
About 70 shipping containers were dropped off at Long Wharf over the weekend and moved into place for the site design that pays tribute to its host city.
"The shipping container village is one of those things that, we said, if there's one cool kind of aesthetic thing that was true to the city, being a port city … wouldn't this be a cool thing for Saint John to do," said Ray Gracewood, one of the organizers.
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The process "was incredible to watch," said Gracewood. "We thought it that would probably take all day on Saturday, if not into Sunday, and we were wrapped up by afternoon on Saturday. It went really well."
The containers were moved by a number of companies with expertise, through a partnership with Port Saint John, he said.
More than 40 different cultural groups and vendors of local products from around New Brunswick will take up residence in the containers for the three-day festival, which celebrates the best the province has to offer.
Everything from First Nations and Acadian groups, to Covered Bridge Potato Chips and Mrs. Dunster's donuts will be represented.
Organizers now have a plan to get the rest of village set up and ready, which includes bringing in electricity and a main stage tent to having portable toilets and garbage cans on hand, said Gracewood.
"All of that happens between now and Friday, but really the structure for the container village is in place and now we just sort of have to work around it to do all the other elements we have to do," he said.
A full weekend of events
Area 506 begins on Friday with a passport program, which allows people to collect stamps at about a dozen bars, restaurants and various other businesses around the city.
Then they can bring their filled-out passport to the container village on Saturday or Sunday to get a free pin.
"And then on Saturday and Sunday, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., it's free, open to the public. It's kid-friendly, it's pet-friendly, and we encourage everyone to come down and check out these 40-plus exhibitors," said Gracewood.
But the highlight of the weekend will be two nights of music.
"We always thought that there was a huge need for a big concert in Saint John and we've heard that over and over," Gracewood said.
Headliners on Saturday include New Brunswick bands Matt Andersen and the Bonafides, Chris Colepaugh and the Comic Crew, the Backyard Devils and 1755.
On Sunday, bands such as Grace Potter, Big Sugar and Wintersleep will hit the stage.