While the origins of Geoff Kulawick’s Artsfest were built around his Waterdown area home and base for True North Records, this weekend the fourth annual ArtsFest moves to Hamilton’s Westdale Village to bring a different, or as organizers suggest — a more refined music, arts and cultural festival to the city.
“ArtsFest is such a popular festival that attracts tens of thousands of people from across the province and the northern US that we thought we were being selfish holding it in one location,” says Kulawick. “We thought we’d share the love with other communities around Hamilton and make it a mobile festival and showcase different communities for festival attendees returning year after year. Like the Juno Awards move from province to province, each community could have something different coming to their part of town.”
“It’s a festival that celebrates arts in all of its forms — visual, music, dance and theatre — we want to target people that are perhaps not interested in big rock and roll festivals or camping,” adds Kulawick. “It’s a different experience with jazz, classical, folk, blues and all the vendors are artisans, so it attracts perhaps a more sophisticated demographic, maybe older music fans or younger families. We’re not programming to attract the average rock festival attendee. This music targets the baby boomers and anyone who likes blues, jazz and more.”
Sue Foley, Sass Jordan, Roxanne Potvin, Marc Jordan with Amy Sky, John McDermott, Steve Marriner’s All Star Blues Band and more are all involved with Saturday’s headliner featuring the voice of Blood, Sweat and Tears, David Clayton–Thomas and Sunday’s headliner is the Lance Andersen led band of notable musicians connected to and re–interpreting the music performed by The Band for The Last Waltz.
“On Friday, we’re having a ticketed concert for National Indigenous Peoples day with Susan Aglukark and Amanda Rheaume who are indigenous artists performing in the beautiful newly renovated Westdale Theatre,” says Kulawick. “Then Saturday and Sunday we close down King Street and do a lot of great programming outdoors that's all free. All of the arts and vendors will be up and running as of 11am Saturday morning and there are five stages of concerts, theater, interactive performers creating art in the maker’s zone. There’s a blacksmith and a weaver and artists making art in front of people. There are four patios that will be open on the street so there will be a great selection of alcoholic and non–alcoholic beverages.”
With a project 40,000 people attending, drivers in the area will want to stay away but music fans should be delighted with the free weekend of entertainment.
“I’m excited about this and we want everyone from Hamilton, Toronto, Oakville, New York —we want everyone to come out and see what’s happening,” says Kulawick. “Come on out for the ticketed Friday show or all of the free fun throughout the weekend. We’re looking forward to great weather but even if it’s not so great weather we’ll all be out there celebrating the arts and culture in Hamilton.”
ArtsFest happens this Friday June 21 at 7pm as well as Saturday June 22 and Sunday June 23 in Westdale Village from 11am to 11pm. Click on artsfest.ca