East Comes West for Atlin

There are so many East Coast-ers performing at this year’s Atlin Arts and Music Festival, organizers felt it only made sense to program an East Coast kitchen party during the festival, taking place in Atlin July 7 to 9.

“Definitely (the kitchen party) is an acknowledgement of the volume of East Coasters on the roster,” says producer and artistic director Angela Drainville. “There are a lot from the East Coast. A number from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario.”

Not only is Halifax headliner Joel Plaskett playing twice (Friday at 9 p.m. with his father, musician Bill Plaskett, and Saturday at 10 p.m. with his more raucous Emergency Band), the lineup also includes Rose Cousins, a singer from Prince Edward Island (8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday), and IsKwé, a Winnipeg-born, Toronto-based singer songwriter (midnight on Friday).

Drainville says there’s also a good number of performers from Vancouver, as well as a solid line-up of Yukoners, including Antarcticus (6 p.m. Saturday), Calla Kinglit (3 p.m. Sunday), Claire Ness (noon Saturday and Sunday), Major Funk and the Employment (midnight Saturday), and Speed Control (8 p.m. Saturday).

At the moment, Drainville says the festival is 80 per cent sold out, with roughly 300 tickets remaining between sales agents online at YukonTickets.com, at the Yukon Arts Centre, Arts Underground and Dean’s Strings and Music Supplies.

“We do anticipate that this is going to sell out,” she says.

As of June 23 there were still campsites at the festival grounds available (sites can also be booked at YukonTickets.com), which isn’t normally the case this close to the festival.

Even if these sites sell out, though, Drainville notes there’s plenty of overflow camping available.

“There’s tons of camping,” she says. “We’re never going to run out of camping.”

Drainville is excited for this year’s festival because of some of the new features, including Kids Fest. There have always been workshops for kids, she says, but the festival ramped it up this year, partly because families were asking for it.

“It certainly didn’t hurt that I myself have four children,” she says. “I really have a passion for engaging youth in the arts.”

This year that engagement takes the form of a Frantic Follies vaudeville camp and a rock camp led by Yukon band Speed Control. There will also be square dancing workshops and a children’s reading room, featuring live readings of kids stories.

The festival has also partnered this year with a literary event called Atlin Lit Up! For programming that spans Saturday and Sunday.

Finally, Drainville says the fireside jams are back this year, with a slate of artists scheduled to head out into the campgrounds (maps will be available at the festival) to lead singalongs on Friday and Saturday nights.

Drainville says she doesn’t know what it is about Atlin that makes it so appealing to such a broad cross-section of people, from families with young children, to 20-somethings, to retirees, but she suspects it has something to do with the town itself.

“I think there’s something about the environment there. There’s a certain feeling that you get when you’re in Atlin that takes over,” says Drainville. “It’s evolved into being a really family-friendly, peaceful atmosphere that people really enjoy.”

The Atlin Arts and Music Festival takes place Friday, July 7 through Sunday, July 9. Atlin is a 2-hour drive south of Whitehorse. For more information go to www.AtlinFestival.ca.

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