Many apologies dearest reader(s), unlike last year I just haven’t found the time to do a blog post every day during the festival this week. The sheer length of this blog post should make up for it though!
We had a fantastic week though!!! I love having a huge, free festival just on my doorstep. One nice moment on Saturday was being asked “Oh, are there more stalls up there?” as I walked up the street – no, sorry mate, I’m just walking the half a block home!
This year was extra special mainly because I could actually go to everything. Last year I lacked energy for a lot of it after work, lacked babysitters for anything that went on past 9pm, and worked my arse off during Victoria day and the Saturday street fair. I feel sorry for my former colleagues having to work in “the zoo” that day! The restaurant didn’t actually look as busy this year though…
The Opening Parade on Monday was brilliant. Carl was off work too for Victoria day, so we took Miranda along together, with the drum and shakers we’d made at the library the weekend before. She was a little scared by Stinky and Buzz, two guys(?) in 8ft sock monkey-esque costumes apparently representing environmental awareness and depicting a smelly factory and a forest being chopped down. To Miranda and I, Buzz just looked like a freakish monkey with an axe lodged in his head:
However, as soon as we got to the Les Sherman park and she found her friends and saw kites and hula hoops and ice cream and things to climb on etc. etc. she cheered up no end. Perfect weather too – she actually caught the sun a bit!
Tuesday was my favourite event of the whole year, The Poetry Slam in the Mercury. The theme of the festival was “Roots and Wings”, so this year Slam competitors were given a page out of a book on birds, and a page out of a gardening magazine. We had to pick a phrase from each, and include them in our poem. And we had half an hour to write it. Well actually, more like 20 minutes after we’d bought beer and found each other (lovely friends Amy, Carmen and Marianne came along, as well as Miri and Carl. Amy did a poem too and we had a great troupe of cheerleaders and moral support!) As usual, my own effort wasn’t the startling, groundbreaking piece of literature or poetic masterpiece that it sounded like in my head (that would be the beer’s fault), but I did get to include the phrase “an inch-thick layer of Sphagnum moss”. I’m fairly confident that phrase just had it’s debut in modern poetry.
Wednesday we missed everything, because…. The Parents arrived!! Their “summer” holiday, mainly to see Miri and celebrate her birthday, (a little early). They didn’t intentionally come for the Arts Festival, but it was great that they were here for it! On Thursday we wandered around and took Miri to Kiwanis park while they ‘acclimatised’ and got over the jetlag. We found all this Art outside Connaught Library too! I dragged them to see some dance events at the Cathedral Neighbourhood centre. We saw inCubanate and the Praire Lily cloggers (NOT the English style of clog dancing, more like tap!) and some belly dancers. Miranda was utterly transfixed and kept trying to get up on stage and join them! We also saw Brass Buttons (a band) at the big tent that popped up in the park opposite us. Not really my thing but Miri rounded up a crowd of Small Children, raced around madly and danced like a loon all night. Which is what you should do at festivals.
We saw possibly the most bizarre show of the festival on Friday, the Saskatchewan Film board together with the International Puppet Underground Film Festival, (adorably called “iPuff”) produced a load of little short films, most involving puppets and ranging from the pointless to the incomprehensible to the downright WEIRD. My favourites were “Saskatchewan is boring”, one about a small boy being attacked by a duck, and of course, WolfCop. Carl and I also went out Late (gasp!) and saw a couple of bands – Robot Hive and the Screaming Daisies. They were both great and I got a rubber beer holder, so I was happy.
The finale was the street parade on Saturday. We started the day
off wonderfully with a very Canadian Pancake breakfast, and I dressed up according to the theme… There was another parade, this time involving steampunks and some very brave women in catsuits, loads and loads of stalls and food trucks, more music, the “lit tent”, living pictures (ie: people walking round dressed up as a Picasso painting) and even a Bike Valet service! Then there was Funville, with yet more music, various activities for the kids (Miri took it upon herself to teach others “proper football” in the park), and my personal favourite, The Society for Creative Anachronism.
It was incredibly busy, and beautifully sunny. There were even more bands on in the evening, but by that time we’d had such a hectic week that we didn’t have the energy to go out again. So much fun!! Official sources say it was actually a bit bigger than last year. They extended the fair by another few blocks so there were 350 stalls, and around 40,000 in attendance on the Saturday! Incredible!
I can’t imagine anything like this ever happening in Darlington…
One last thing I should mention on here…we found a stall run by the Regina Roller Derby club, and were given a flyer for this: