Final run for Stensons is here

Harrison Festival of the Arts revs up this weekend at the beach

H'Sao will perform July 5 as part of a diverse line up for this year's Festival of the Arts.

For Ed and Phyllis Stenson, Friday night was the beginning of the end.

The 35th annual Harrison Festival of the Arts kicks off in Memorial Hall with a special performance by H’Sao at 8:30 p.m., a festival favourite.

Actually, regulars to the 10-day cultural feast will notice a few return acts, and it’s no accident. This is the Stenson’s final year at the helm of the festival, and they’ve gone out of their way to ensure every act is well-received.

Many are personal favourites of the Stensons, including the Wailin’ Jennys. One of that group’s first shows was right here at the festival — on a drizzly Monday under the old plaza, Ed recalls.

But the show was a hit and the Wailin’ Jennys (Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse) went onto gain huge successes; their 2006 album Firecracker was nominated for a Juno Award and spent more than 56 weeks on the Billboard charts.

They’ll close the festival on Sunday, July 14, with what is sure to be a sold out show in the hall. Tickets are selling fast for that performance, along with the other high-calibre performances lined up.

Some of the highlights include Harry Manx, Ray Bonneville, Digging Roots and Fred Penner.

When the Jennys pack up the stage, so will the Stensons.

But, the show will go on.

Their replacements, Andy Hillhouse and Mel Dunster, have been in place for months, and have been gearing up to take over the festival — an enormous labour of love that includes piles of paperwork and organization to secure funding for the $450,000 annual budget, as well as seeking out new and exciting musicians while attracting big names for the evening shows. There are volunteers — dozens upon dozens — to organize, summer staff to recruit, along with marketing of the entire shebang.

But it’s all worth it. Every year, both Ed and Phyllis can often be found in and amongst the crowds at the festival, enjoying a few minutes of rest here and there, taking in the cultural offerings they worked so hard to deliver to the community.

To check out a full listing of what’s happening at the Harrison Festival of the Arts this year visit www.harrisonfestival.com.

For further information, phone 604-796-3664.

– with files from the Chilliwack Progress

 

Friday, July 5

H’Sao: 8:30 p.m at Memorial Hall

 

Saturday, July 6

Art Market, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Locarno: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m

 

Sunday, July 7

Art Market, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harry Manx: Memorial Hall, 7:30 p.m

 

Monday, July 8

Literary Cafe: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m

 

Tuesday, July 9

UFV Theatre night: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m

 

Wednesday, July 10

Children’s Day: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in and around Memorial Hall, featuring Fred Penner.

 

Kelly Gang: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m.

 

Thursday, July 11

Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m

 

Friday, July 12

Art Market, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Tambura Rasa: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m

 

Saturday, July 13

Art Market, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Mamselle: Memorial Hall, 8:30 p.m

 

Sunday, July 14

Art Market, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Wailin’ Jennys Memorial Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Art Market

The Art Market takes place along the walkway by the lagoon, every weekend of the festival. The hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Sundays.