"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Monday, August 8, 2011

More about the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival

Travelers on the seashore route that connects Masstown, Great Village, Bass River, Economy and Five Islands have been admiring the stunning flower baskets and colourful banners on roadside poles, and perhaps wondering “What’s the occasion?”

The Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Arts Festival is a once in a lifetime happening that is raising the level of pride for all the communities of the Cobequid Bay Shore. The Festival, August 19, 20 and 21, features many free events open to everyone (full details at www.elizabethbishopns.org) plus writers’ workshops and three excellent concerts.

Volunteers from all of these communities have been planning together for two years to make this festival happen. Joy Laking, one of the local artists, designed the t-shirts and banners. "For over thirty-five years” says Laking, “I have lived and worked in the area and there has never been an event like this that includes all of the local communities. The banners and the flower baskets represent our pride in our area and our willingness to work together to keep our shore a wonderful, beautiful, vibrant place to call home."

Starry Night in Great Village, Painting by Joy Laking
(This colourful and expressive image is the one presented on the Arts Festival brochure and the banners that line the shore road. It has also been put on T-shirts, which will be for sale at the festival.)

Although most of the concerts and readings are taking place in Great Village, the ancestral home of beloved poet Elizabeth Bishop, there is also a full day of children’s activities in Bass River on Saturday, August 20, organized by the Bass River Heritage Society. A jamboree of Maritime blacksmiths will be on hand, forging metal, and providing the ring of the hammer on the anvil. Karen MacFarlane, the president of the Bass River Heritage Society is delighted to host the blacksmiths as a tribute to Mate Fisher, the Great Village blacksmith who moved to Bass River in Elizabeth Bishop’s day. It was the constant rhythm of the hammer that provided stability in Elizabeth’s fragmented world and it is the sound that underlies her most famous story called “In the Village.”

In Great Village, the festival includes a farmer’s market, readings by well-known authors Don McKay, Michael Crummey, Joan Clark, Anne Simpson, Sheree Fitch, Sandra Barry, and Mary Rose Donnelly) and three evenings of eclectic concerts. On Friday Lenore Zann presents a dramatic reading of a play about Elizabeth Bishop, “Running to Paradise,” with music by Rosalee Peppard. Saturday’s concert features Susan Crowe, Cindy Church and Raylene Rankin and on Sunday there’s a Musique Royale concert, “At the Fishhouses,” with Suzie Leblanc and Tempest Baroque. Throughout the festival there will be horse and wagon rides, guided walks and also Elizabeth Bishop House tours. On Sunday morning there will be an old-fashioned church service and a blueberry tea.

The Board-to-Boat Competition challenges everyone along the shore to participate. Families, young people (8 and up), community groups and Fire Departments, even the Colchester County Council, are invited to build a cardboard boat on site in Great Village and then there will be a walking parade of boats up to Logan Spencer’s pond where the actual racing begins at 5 p.m. on August 20. Prizes for the fastest, the prettiest and the best sinking will be awarded! Registration is $20 at Danny Smith’s Store in Great Village, refunded after participation in this event.

And there’s more: a display of paintings done recently in the area on a special artist’s weekend in June, and a book sale presented by Bookmark, Halifax’s beloved independent bookseller. Information, sales and registration can be found at the Great Village Legion. Elizabeth Bishop would be proud of her village, and happy to greet visitors to explore the wonders of the West Colchester Shore.

No comments:

Post a Comment