Something you will quickly learn about me is I am a huge supporter of the arts and related culture. Growing up in Dunnville I dealt with the opinion that living in a small town sucked, so I moved to Ottawa for 3 years to attend post secondary school, and guess what, I moved back. While I was gone, friends that had remained in Dunnville soon began sharing excited stories of an event called River Arts Festival, which started out as a visual art gallery for local artists to showcase and sell their artwork.
Since the Festival’s humble beginnings in 2006, the River Arts Festival with the help of Haldimand Artworks has grown into a 15-day festival featuring an outdoor Opening Ceremony, a visual arts gallery, and a separate Children’s Art Gallery and Literary Competition that also features a children’s author event; Culinary Arts Night which features the work of 5 local chefs to create a 5-course meal; a Film Night; an Author’s Night which in the past has featured Josie Penny, Dave Bidini, and Kenneth Oppel, will feature Gord Rollo and Brad Smith; a dance night which features an opening performance by a local dance studio followed by a performance by professional dancers; and multiple musical events. In 2010, the River Arts Festival was proud to present Juno Nominated performers Mr. Something Something an Afro Beat Jazz Band, the BidiniBand, and workshops featuring visual artists, photographers, and musicians.
Although the event is more than six months away the River Arts Festival Planning Committee has been hard at work since January getting plans ready for this year’s event. Already confirmed are some exciting events. Aside Smith’s and Rollo’s Authors Night, the children’s author has been confirmed: Judy Schier; a masters’ class in portraiture has been confirmed for Saturday November 12th; as well as a musical performance by Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene. Another piece of exciting news is the Festival has a chance to host a highly acclaimed Canadian performer, but is seeking community support through donations and sponsorship in order to fund such a high calibre performance.
As part of the Planning Committee I am very excited for this year’s festival, and look forward to viewing all the unique art work that is on display through out the downtown core of Dunnville in shop windows. So for those that live in a similar small town and are inspired by the arts I have two messages for you, do not under estimate your small community as it has a rich culture just waiting to be explored and take the opportunity to enjoy the arts in all facets, perhaps it will help you further appreciate the art forms you already enjoy. -LW