Street festival shows off big talent

Arts: Summer Saturdays a celebration of Okotoks arts and culture July 19

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 08:43 am

An employee at Bistro Provence serves up food at last year’s First Saturdays event. This year the Olde Towne restaurant is offering sausages and vegetables at the Summer Saturday Street Festival on July 19.
An employee at Bistro Provence serves up food at last year’s First Saturdays event. This year the Olde Towne restaurant is offering sausages and vegetables at the Summer Saturday Street Festival on July 19.
Wheel File Photo

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Talented artists from the Okotoks region will converge on a downtown block to offer a sample of the area’s arts and culture in a street festival this weekend.

The Town of Okotoks is hosting its second Summer Saturday Street Festival of the year on July 19, closing North Railway Street from Lineham Ave. to Alberta Ave. to bring artists and spectators together for a day of fun in the sun.

The event replaces last year’s First Saturdays, offering more entertainment and activities on select Saturdays throughout the summer, many times in conjunction with other Town events in downtown.

“It’s about getting people out here,” said Allan Boss, Town of Okotoks cultural and historical services team leader. “It’s a great opportunity to hear some fabulous music, see some great performances, eat in some fabulous restaurants and go into some fabulous stores.”

Not only does the Summer Saturdays Street Festival provide a day of entertainment for Okotoks residents, it often draws Calgarians to the community for a taste of the local culture, said Boss.

“Okotoks is becoming a place that you come to on the weekends because there is something going on here and it’s going to be something great and it’s going to be something fun,” he said. “You come to Olde Towne Okotoks for the weekend and do your grocery stopping at Costco after that. We’ve got great restaurants, we’ve got great stores. We really want to be that weekend destination.”

The festival includes an artisans market featuring locally-made items from jewelry to paintings and crafts for children to showcase their own creative abilities.

Those wanting a look at the work of one of the area’s more accomplished artists can view the Okotoks Art Gallery’s latest exhibit Canadian Sport Heroes Collection by Turner Valley artist Gordon Milne or learn more about the history of the town by touring the Okotoks Museum and Archives.

“It’s a great chance to go in and enjoy the air conditioning and learn a little bit about Okotoks,” Boss said of a museum tour. “It’s great for visitors to learn about our history and the importance of the railway, the importance of oil and gas, floods we had in town.”

Musicians of varying ages and abilities will perform on the outdoor stage in front of the Okotoks Art Gallery throughout the day, said Boss.

“What we’re going to try to do this year is make it every type of music, every type of performance,” he said, adding future events could also feature local magicians and poets.

Boss said the street festival is an event that even Olde Towne Okotoks merchants get caught up in.

Ed Povhe, co-owner of Bistro Provence, changes his whole operation for the Summer Saturday Street Festival.

Rather than serve up his regular menu, Povhe brings his outdoor furniture onto North Railway Street and selects a different dish for each event. This weekend he is serving sausages and vegetables.

“I was involved in First Saturdays right from the first Saturday (last year),” he said, adding he used to bring in performers and have wine tasting.

When Povhe learned the Town was changing things up this year by shutting down a portion of North Railway Street to traffic and having art vendors and live music on the street, Povhe made sure Bistro Provence remained a part of the experience.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s exposure you can’t beat,” he said, adding he often prepares for the day as early as 7:30 a.m. and is packed up by midnight.

“I don’t nearly do the revenue I would if I just had my regular customers based on the amount of hours it takes to do this, but the time I spend is part of my advertising budget and getting people down.”

Povhe noticed some nearby restaurants and stores close over the last three years, but said that has changed more recently with more businesses opening and merchants working to revive Olde Towne Okotoks.

“It’s come so far in the last couple of years,” he said.

“We want to make this a vibrant community. It’s about getting people to know we are here and what we have.”

The Summer Saturdays Street Festival takes place July 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those interested in performing at upcoming Summer Saturdays Street Festivals are encouraged to go to www.okotokscultura.ca and click on the Summer Saturdays page.


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