Alvinston’s Community Park and parts of River Street will be transformed into a family-friendly fiesta Aug. 18, featuring interactive art displays, vendors, live music as well as a profusion of food and drink as the community plays host to the fourth annual Alvinston Arts and Music Fest.
Beginning at 11 a.m., the yearly celebration of local art and culture will feature a variety of local musicians, artists, makers and artisans – including painters, henna tattooists, glass artists and a woodcarver – showing off their wares while a bevy of musicians entertain with a medley of rock, country and folk tunes.
Organizer Liana Russwurm said word of mouth has meant the festival –originally conceived as an impromptu, casual event – has grown by leaps and bounds since its first year, mirroring the growth that is taking place in Alvinston over the past four years.
“The whole purpose of this event is that we want to bring more people into the community,” she said. “And if you look in the last couple of years … Alvinston has grown and so have we. New people have been moving here, businesses have sprung up and we’ve been growing that way too.”
With funding from the Creative County Fund and a growing list of sponsors, more artists are participating in the festival while more people are coming to take in a pleasant morning, afternoon and/or evening in the heart of Alvinston, Russwurm said.
“I was thrilled last year,” she said. “So many people came out and there was so much going on.”
“Last year was much, much busier than in years past,” added Armor’s Ale House owner and organizer Vickie Armstrong. “People were wandering around, having a great time.”
“This year we have more free stuff for kids, and adults too I suppose,” Russwurm said. “We have a henna artist coming out for a few hours and we also have Blossom the Clown coming from noon to 2 p.m. doing balloon art, which was really popular last year.”
“We have this guy who makes things for your gardens out of old poles and rakes, he was here last year,” she continued. “We have the 4-H Club kids out, the Creative Road Show from Watford is coming and they’re bringing their bus this year and will be having arts for the kids. And we’ve gotten bigger bands, we’re attracting a lot more interest from people and vendors, too.”
In terms of music, attendees will have an embarrassment of riches to choose from, Russwurm said.
Lambton County’s own favourite sons, Celtic rock warriors The Mudmen, will be celebrating their 20th anniversary at the festival with a 7 p.m. performance on the main stage.
Other acts performing throughout the day include singer-songwriter Patrick Jessome, Jamie Hiscox, Brandon Solomon, Lance Russwurm and Alvinston’s own band, the three-piece Deciduous.
“It’s awesome, we really didn’t expect something like this in Alvinston when we first moved here,” said Deciduous’ Vanessa Benoit. “I’m actually thrilled to be playing.”
“Usually when people ask what genre of music we are, I just tell them the instrumentation,” said fellow band member and husband Jason Benoit. “We have fiddle, banjo, slide guitar and acoustic guitar and harmonized vocals. So it definitely has a kind of folk-country thing going for it, but it’s all original material Vanessa wrote.”
“It’s well-suited music for a sunny morning and afternoon,” he said, smiling. “At least that’s what we’re hoping.”
Beer-lovers will also have a reason to drop by Alvinston, as several microbreweries will be providing free samples in a licensed area in front of Armor’s Ale House.
“We have Cameron’s coming in, Cowbell and beer from a new brewery from Dresden, Sodbusters,” Armstrong said. “We just started carrying his beer a few weeks ago, and it’s been quite well received. And if people enjoy the sample, they can come on into Armor’s Ale House to buy a beer.”
And the Alvinston Arts and Music Fest annual tradition of having a guest speaker will also be continued this year as Sarnia’s Lauren Crighton will take the stage at 1 p.m.
“She is a wonderful comedian and she spoke at Sarnia Speaks before this,” Russwurm said. “She speaks on mental health and uses comedy to deal with her issues.”
Russwurm said she hopes people from around the county will come and take in a day of warm Alvinston hospitality.
“We really hope that people will come on out,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the biggest one we’ve held yet.”
IF YOU GO:
What: Alvinston Arts and Music Fest
When: Saturday, Aug. 18, beginning at 11 a.m.
Where: Alvinston Community Park and River Street
Cost: Free, though attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Alvinston Food Bank
For more information: Visit the Alvinston Arts and Music Fest Facebook page