The Harrison Festival of the Arts has been my favourite time of year since I first experienced it many years ago. And every year I gain a deeper appreciation of the hard work that goes into being an artist.
Whether I’m watching a children’s performer balancing on high wires, hearing a bluesy vocal drift across the beach, or marveling at the handiwork of an artist, I am blown away by the devotion these people have to their craft.
When my kids were young, we would always make sure to hit up Children’s Day. Now that they’re older, I’m more likely to slip away for an afternoon on my own, and take in the beach music or stroll along the art market. I’ve even taken part in a few workshops over the years — learning things I would never have the chance to learn anywhere else.
So, from me to you, here’s a rundown of my ‘to do’ list this year. I hope you take the time to create your own festival memories. The fun starts Friday night, with a concert in the hall by blues singer Shakura S’Aida.
1. Children’s Day
Some of the best entertainment is geared toward children, and musicians especially seem to relax when a group of tiny, smiling faces are staring back at them. This year, you’ll hear The Kerplunks and Ken Whiteley, and enjoy the magic of Erik Stephany. Your kids won’t get bored with the climbing wall, craft stations and play area. Wednesday, July 11. Admission, $6 a person.
2. The Art Market
I have one rule at Festival time, and that’s to buy one locally-made, original piece of art for myself. My collection of items large and small is growing with every season, from hand-made glass by Chilliwack’s Sonya Labrie, to framed photographs that line my walls at home. This year, I’ve got a djembe in mind, as a gift to me and my sons. The Art Market runs five days this year: July 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15.
This year, they include group harmony singing, Bhangra dance, drum making and yoga and meditation on the beach. I’m finding it hard to pick just one, especially when many are admission by suggested donation of $2. Pick up a booklet at the Festival, or visit them online to find the perfect way to get your groove on.