Does Lepage Park have a maximum seating capacity? Arts In The Park Production Assistant Kasey Rae Anderson doesn’t think so.
“We broke 500 today,” she boasts after the July 24 demonstration by Leaping Feats dancers and performers from the Yukon Circus Camp.
That sure seems like a lot of people to cram onto three small rows of stands and 30 plastic chairs. One day last year they had more than 1,000 people come through during a lunch hour show.
The stage itself can get pretty packed, too. This summer has seen performances by the Big Band, the Fiddleheads, and the Suzuki Strings, sometimes with as many as 30 musicians elbow-to-elbow, shoulder-to-shoulder and instrument-to-instrument.
Fortunately, there haven’t been any injuries or mishaps.
“Well, the wind blew a guitar off a stand once,” Anderson says.
As always, Arts in the Park isn’t just about the music. Each week, a different artist demonstrates their techniques for the public, in some cases inviting them to share the experience.
“We’ve had painters, someone did felting – a bunch of the kids were doing clay pottery one day and they just loved it,” Anderson says.
During the Wednesday evening shows, carvers come over from Northern Cultural Expressions Society’s (NCES) carving studio.
“It’s good music and friendly people – what’s not to like?” says Ben from NCES, taking a break from working on a carving called “Two Frog Mask.”
Wednesdays host the more kid friendly entertainment, such as performances featuring youth; the family friendly musician Remy Rodden; and an all-ages Zumba class. On these days the grass is filled with children and their parents, as well as groups from probably half of the city’s day cares. A few of the braver kids even get up and dance along.
Occasionally there are special guest appearances by groups from down south passing through on the way to festivals or other events in the territory or Alaska. And there is some room for flexibility in the schedule, so if ever there’s a cancellation, the show will go on.
“There are lots of friends of Arts in the Park,” Anderson says.
Someone is always willing to step up, plus, artistic director Steve Slade keeps his guitar handy.
This summer has been a successful year for Arts In The Park. Even the weather has cooperated.
“We’ve only had to go under the tent a couple times,” Anderson is happy to report.
Singer songwriter Claire Ness will be performing at Arts in the Park on Thursday, Aug. 8 and the whole event will wrap up this year on August 9th with an extended program and free community meal.
“It will be a big party, lots of food, and beverages,” Anderson says. “We will have several performers, Emily Ross, Kim Rogers, Jona and Kevin Barr, and more.”
The 17th annual Arts in the Park takes place in Lepage Park every week day from noon to 1 p.m., with evening shows on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The park is located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Wood Street in Whitehorse.
For more information go to www.musicyukon.com/artsinthepark