Arts Alive in the Park returns to Willingdon Beach for a 17th year this weekend. The two-day event, presented by Powell River Council for Arts and Culture, takes place August 18 and 19 and brings together dozens of local artists, musicians and food vendors in what co-organizer Ann Nelson describes as a market that wouldn’t be out of place in the Middle Ages.
“My vision has always been of it being like a market day in a medieval town where people wander through the little village of tents and snack on stuff, buy stuff, make connections and listen to street buskers,” she said.
Along with the traditional showcase of paintings, pottery and fibre arts, there will be plenty of live performances from local artists to take in as well.
“We have a full slate of performing artists on the main stage,” added Nelson. “We try to give the most space to those who are original singer-songwriters and encourage young performers as much as we can.”
Musical acts include Phil Williams, and Old Enough to Know Better, featuring Geoff Allan, Scott Ritter and Shaun Coburn.
An aspect of the occasion that is gratifying for Nelson is seeing whole families involved, as spectators and also as artists.
“We’re seeing multi generations of the same families coming,” said Nelson. “They are introducing their offspring to the joys of interacting with happy people who are admiring their work.” Arts activities for children will also be part of the day. Tourism Powell River will be on site with its Boler trailer, offering interactive crafts.
“It does indeed make it a family outing so it's not just for the grownups,” said Nelson.
Last year the event attracted 46 artists and vendors and Nelson said she expects to have just as many this year, adding that no artists are ever turned away.
“Even if artists show up on the day we’ll make room for them,” she added. “We shoehorn them in some place because our intention is for it to be as representative and inclusive as possible.”
Another aim is reminding the community of the rich reserve of homegrown talent.
“It’s a celebration of local artists, artisans and musicians because we tend to get into a bad habit of assuming that all the best stuff comes from away,” said Nelson. “We’re trying to counteract that and remind people this is all right here in their backyard.”
Nelson said the winning formula of the gathering’s ongoing success is in part due to its predictable nature.
“What I cherish the most about this event we’ve created and kept going over all these years is that it has a comforting sort of familiarity; we’re not always looking to top ourselves with something bigger and better and more sparkly and glam,” she added. “It’s a local showcase for artists in every discipline that we can get out of hiding in the summertime. And it’s a lot of fun.”