Sixteen years after it began, Artwalk is not only a major event in its own right but also boasts a legacy of revitalization, job creation and community pride.
This year’s Artwalk running June 1– 3 will offer more than 90 artisan and food vendors, two stages of free live music and a new tent to showcase emerging artists.
“We’ve been here for 16 years because of a very committed group who wanted to have a thriving downtown full of people and businesses,” says festival president Nathan Colquhoun.
“Artwalk’s founders wanted it to be something made by Sarnia people, for Sarnia people.”
An outdoor festival that shut down traffic on Christina Street and brought as many as 25,000 people downtown over three days, also spawned the monthly First Fridays that continue to bring more people to the core for art, music, food and shopping.
That in turn attracted new investment, both in small business and residential development. Since Artwalk began in 2002, the downtown has enjoyed a major renewal.
“Although Artwalk only lasts the weekend, the results of the cultural cross-pollination are long lasting and plain to see,” said Colquhoun.
This year’s edition has a full roster of creative demos, music and special activities for the whole family. And it’s all free.
Two stages will offer a diverse lineup of bands and performers, both local and from afar.
This year’s entertainment includes The Wooden Sky, My Son the Hurricane, Harrow Fair, Spencer Burton, Robb Sharp & Lit’l Chicago, Skye Wallace, PUCE, Al Weiss Quartet, Rodney James and the Riot, Isabelle Robinson and much more.
For a full entertainment schedule, see www.sarniaartwalk.com.
One stage will be located outside The Refined Fool on Davis Street, while the second is in the Scotia Bank parking lot between Christina and Front streets. Beer gardens and food vendors will be nearby.
New this year is a tent set up near the Scotia Bank parking lot to accommodate about 18 local artists, each with a small sampling of their work for sale.
Colquhoun said Artwalk decided to add the local artist showcase area because booth space costs $300 for the weekend, too expensive for an artist who might sell little or no product.
“We wanted to include the up-and-comers too,” he said. “One thing I’ve always liked about Artwalk is that it’s inclusive and there is so much for people to see and do.”
A Creative County grant made it possible to offer the showcase tent as well as a workshop area where local artists will lead hands-on activities all weekend long.
Workshop leaders include reps from Sarnia Speaks, Art Attack alumni making macramé hangings, painters and more.
Sarnia-Lambton Artwalk is a non-profit organization that is able to host a free festival thanks to the county’s grant, strong sponsorship support and fundraisers, added Colquhoun.
Two Art Attack events throughout the year help bring in money, as does the upcoming Restaurant Tour on Thursday, May 24.
This year’s tour features 11 downtown eateries that provide a sampling or small dish to each participant. Tickets are $30 and available by visiting www.sarniaartwalk.com and clicking on the eventbrite link.
First Friday June 1; 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday June 2 ; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
*Bands play Friday and Saturday night.
Sunday June 3 ; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
5 p.m. – Closing ceremonies with Aamjiwnaang dancers on Main Stage.
See www.sarniaartwalk.com for details.