Small Town, Big Arts Festival


The Village of Mayo, named most astutely after a certain Alfred H. Mayo, one-time circus acrobat, is hosting, for the fifth year in a row, a back-bendingly large assortment of homegrown artistic and musical talent.

Set this year on summer solstice, June 21, the Mayo Arts Festival, along the banks of the Stewart River in Galena Park, will be offering workshops and demonstrations by visual artists and crafters as well as performances by musicians.

The twist is, almost the entire lineup is homegrown. And, for a village of 450 people, it’s a big list.

“The people that are coming to this festival are either local or have strong ties to the area,” explains Esther Winter, festival co-ordinator.

And, the talents and skills are diverse. “Shann Carmicheal, she’s going to be doing pottery workshops so people will be able to create and have the pieces glazed and fired and Susan Stuart, she’s going to be spinning wool. She’ll be spinning all day as well as having a dyepot for the wool, so people can see how it’s done,” adds Winter.

Many of the artists also wear more than one hat. “Mary and Pete Beattie, they’re musicians and they are going to be performing music and Mary will be putting on a doll-making workshop using all natural materials and scraps.”

Winter, as co-ordinator, embodies this small-town multi-tasking. As well as co-ordinating the festival, she will also be selling her sterling silver jewelry line, Winterchild Jewelry, as well as playing in her band, The Wild Berries.

The Mayo Arts Festival mixes things into even more diverse directions by sharing space and billing with two other events. Because the Saturday festival falls on National Aboriginal Day this year, the day officially kicks off with a pancake breakfast at 10 a.m. which is free, provided by Nacho Nyak Dun, with National Aboriginal Day festivities running until 2:30, when the Arts Festival starts.

And, at 8 p.m., as the Arts Festival winds down, people have time to gear back up for the Mayo Midnight Marathon.

While the festival itself is free, there will be a concession and individuals selling their wares, such as health and body products, a variety of jewelry, wood-turned burl bowls, portraits and landscapes and more.

Musical performances range from rock to folk to Celtic to country. Musical acts include Simple Messengers, Retrospect, The Wild Berries as well as individual acts.

Excitedly, Winter describes one youth group, The Black Hat: “It features youth from Mayo and Whitehorse. One of the musicians is a student from Mayo who went to Whitehorse for the MAD program and created a band, so they’re all coming up here to perform.”

As to what makes this arts festival special, Winter feels “it’s very looked forward to. I think the festival has encouraged people to try.

“I’m in a band now myself and the first year we spent all winter practising for our half-hour set.

“There’s people who have hidden talents who have emerged for this festival. It’s very homegrown, but I think if we didn’t have this festival a lot of musical talent would be really stunted.

“The whole community is excited. And, for visual artists, people know that it’s going to be happening every year and they work through the winter to sell things for this. And I think people would probably never see the vast majority of these artists and musicians at any other festival.”

The Mayo Arts Festival runs from 2:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, contact Esther Winter at 996-2043.

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