Woodstock ‘inspired’ and entertained

·4 min read

After a week of art, music and celebration, Inspire Woodstock left town, leaving behind lasting memories, images and inspiration.

The Inspire Festival Tour hit Woodstock on Monday, May 23, and remained in town all week, culminating with a myriad of downtown activities all day Saturday, May 28.

Over the week, international artists, despite weather delays, completed remarkable murals in the heart of downtown Woodstock to add to the community's already rich heritage and creativity.

As the mural artists' creative visions grew and flourished on the exterior walls throughout the picturesque and historic downtown core, local and visiting musical acts provided endless entertainment. The festival featured concerts at various venues, including the main tent on the waterfront, in parks, the Woodstock Royal Canadian Legion Branch 11, Crossing Paths Guest House and Event Centre on Main Street.

Working with the Dooryard Arts Festival, the Inspire Festival delivered what organizers wanted and the community needed.

"This has been a wonderful opportunity for everyone to gather and celebrate art and music," said Gloria Yachyshen, executive director of River Valley Arts Alliance and Dooryard Arts Festival. "It has been very satisfying to see people of all ages welcoming the artists, engaging with them, and watching them create —Families and friends meeting downtown and supporting local businesses. It all reinforces the value art can have in our community."

The week-long festival, the second of the Inspire Festival's summer tour through several N.B. communities and Charlottetown, PEI, worked with Dooryard Arts Festival volunteers to deliver workshops, special events and concerts from scores of local and visiting musicians.

Six muralists from around the globe left dynamic works of art for Woodstock area residents and visitors to admire for years to come.

Artists included Sabina from Mexico, Ledania from Columbia, Eelko from the Netherlands, Mique Michelle from Ontario, Allie Howe from Miramichi, and Song from Singapore.

Yachyshen said Song's colourful masterpiece of the Carleton Street wall of the Bicentennial Building is the first mural he painted in Canada.

Howe, whose mural on the east side of the former Fresh Market building on Queen Street pays tribute to Woodstock's railway days, called the Woodstock festival an "amazing experience" in a Facebook post on May 28.

"It was an incredible festival to be a part of," he posted. "Big thanks to all the crew from @festivalInspire and @dooryardfestival, for making me feel right at home."

In addition to enjoying the opportunity to discuss techniques and materials with fellow artists worldwide, Howe expressed appreciation to the "amazing local people" who shared stories with him.

On Saturday, Downtown Woodstock was a beehive of activity. Visitors took in free concerts and family activities at the tent on the waterfront while enjoying meals from a bevy of food trucks. Other singers and musicians took the stage at the Legion and, The River restaurant. Performers included Richard Wetmore, Julian Atherton and Aaron Corey, the Woodstock Ukers, Colin Fowlie Duo, Womb to Tomb, Queen Bennell, Montgomery Street Band and Stinkin' Rich, billed as a Morohubu reunion.

On Friday evening, Amy Anderson and Friends and Woodstock native Sarah Slipp and Atlantic Bridge entertained a large crowd at the Legion hall. Also, on Friday, popular Fredericton singer, songwriter and guitarist Keith Hallett performed all evening at the Crossing Paths Guest House on Main Street.

Throughout the week, the festival delivered scores of family-oriented activities.

Yachyshen said she believes the festival achieved its goal of celebrating art, music, and community.

"We now have a generation of kids in our community that will grow up surrounded by diverse, public art," she said. "And we have a community that understands its value."

Yachyshen hopes that appreciation remains strong through generations.

"My hope is that it will instill a sense of pride, belonging, interaction, and connection," she said. "I hope that this will boost the community's spirit and self-image beyond what anyone could have imagined. And that we continue to dream big."

The Inspire Woodstock Festival will be the Dooryard Arts Festival's only planned event for the summer. Yachyshen welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Festival Inspire.

"The local programming offered a good Dooryard feel and was an excellent kick start for the arrival of summer," she said.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun

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