Downtown festival celebrates the arts

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 07:53 am

A street performer creates a balloon hat for Will Harris at last year’s <br />BuskerFest. This year’s festival of performers takes place in downtown on June 28.
A street performer creates a balloon hat for Will Harris at last year’s
BuskerFest. This year’s festival of performers takes place in downtown on June 28.
Wheel File Photo.jpg

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Downtown Okotoks will be bustling with activity as people stroll the streets taking in the sights and sounds of local performers, buskers and artists, while doing a little shopping this weekend.

The Town of Okotoks is showcasing the region’s talented artists and artisans by combining its annual Buskerfest and Summer Saturday Festival on June 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’ve all joined forces for this one,” said Mark Doherty, Town of Okotoks community events coordinator. “It’s just a real neat collection and just a very festive atmosphere.”

Doherty said McRae and North Railway Streets will be closed from Centre Street to the Okotoks Art Gallery, allowing people to watch musicians, magicians, jugglers, street performers, artists and take in vendors at the Market Square and Okotoks Farmers’ Market.

“You get to stroll, shop and listen to a variety of music and a variety of entertainment,” he said. “You stroll the streets and you just get to see all this young talent that’s playing.”

The Town received inquiries from 30 performers and Doherty expects more will fill street corners on Saturday. Registration for performers begins at 11 a.m. at the Olde Towne Plaza with performances from noon until 3 p.m.

Street performers and musicians will be judged, with prizes of $300 for first place, $200 for second place, $100 for third and $50 for two runners up awarded, as well as an invitation to perform at upcoming community events.

“Every year we see a variety of new entertainers,” said Doherty. “There are some pretty talented individuals. It gives them an opportunity, a bit of exposure to get out there for those that are very serious about pursuing music or theatrical arts.”

Doherty said last year’s buskers averaged $100 in coins and small bills and those tossing the money hailed from not only Okotoks, but beyond.

“As the event grows and the community grows we’re certainly seeing draws from Calgary,” he said. “They spend the whole day here. It’s a great economic boost. It just pulls the community together.”

Members of the Okotoks Art Gallery will display their artistic creations in an art market in front of the gallery and children’s activities will be in abundance with bouncy houses, crafts and sidewalk chalk art, said Allan Boss, Town of Okotoks cultural and historical team leader. Boss said June 28 marks the first of the Town’s Summer Saturdays Festival. Two more festivals are scheduled each in July and August.

He said partnering with Buskerfest creates continuity in Okotoks’ culture and arts.

“Visual art, music and theatre, all of those things are so closely related,” he said. “You end up with a product with some creative aspect to it. It’s sort of a natural evolution of the festival.”

Various downtown businesses are also getting involved in the festivities featuring special lunches and deals throughout the day, said Boss.

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