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Family-friendly music festival coming to Canatara

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Gerry Surette hopes a new outdoor festival on July 23 will treat the community to some fresh summer music and raise the profile of Harmony for Youth.

Surette is the volunteer executive director of the group, founded 21 years ago by the late Joanne Klauke-Labelle to support and build self-esteem in local young people.

Canatara’s Music in the Park is being co-chaired by Richard Marhue, owner of Red Rhino TV in the Bayside Centre. Marhue and Surette met after Harmony for Youth moved into donated space in the mall this winter.

“We began talking about a major event that would offer a free, family-based day of entertainment, as well as help out Harmony,” said Surette.

Marhue’s daughter, Cynthia Fay, is studying music at Humber College and has networked and played with a number of Toronto bands.  She spread the word about the festival and six volunteered to play on the outdoor stage in the park’s main field.

It’s been three weeks since the festival was announced and Surette said support is building.

“We expect we can attract around 3,500 people the first year, but we may get 10,000.  You really have no idea when it’s a free event,” he said.

There is no admission charge but festival-goers are encouraged to donate to Harmony, which has grown in scope in recent months.

“We have at least two families a week join since coming downtown,” said Surette. There are now about 50 children and teens participating in Harmony’s free music lessons, choirs and crafts.

Surette said he would like to extend Harmony’s programs to the many seniors who live near the mall.

“When teens and children interact with seniors, relationships develop and it builds on self-esteem,” he said.

Canatara’s Music in the Park will run for 10 hours.  Bands include Toronto’s The Celebration Army (classic rock; R & B), Graham Ko & Kompany (country; soul; rock), Sky Valley Band (country blues), Ave Crux (urban rap), Yucifer (hip hop), and ColinResponse (pop; soul).

Sarnia’s Cynthia Fay Marhue will perform some indie jazz and the Harmony for Youth choir will also take the stage.  Schedules are to be announced.

Clowns, bouncy castles and food vendors will be on hand.

IF YOU GO (rain or shine):

WHAT: Canatara’s Music in the Park. Family friendly. No alcohol.

WHERE: Canatara Park, main field

WHEN: Saturday, July 23. Noon – 10 p.m.

TICKETS: Free. Bring your own blanket and lawn chairs.

The Arts Journal celebrates Sarnia’s cultural life.  Any ideas? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.

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