Fraser Lake arts festival a success

The first Fraser Lake Festival of the Arts drew participants from far and wide.

Artist Jerri Malchow demonstrates the joy of painting at the Fraser Lake Festival of the Arts.

A heavy rainfall didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending the first Fraser Lake Festival of the Arts last Saturday.

The event attracted artists, artisans, musicians, and vendors from as far away as Prince George, and was held at the arena and adjacent grounds, where attendees could listen to music, enjoy the artwork on display, and attend workshops. Several artists worked on projects, allowing people to watch them create. “People like seeing the process of painting,” said Vanderhoof artist Mary Lynn Lawrence, who said she was impressed when she walked into the arena. “There was so much space, and it was so colourful.”

Richard Cannon of the Fraser Lake Arts Council said the Council was formed in 2014, and the arts festival was a focus from the start. “It’s been a year in the planning,” he says. They wanted a mix of fine artists—everything from painters to quilters, jewelers to photographers—along with music, vendors, and a kids’ area. “We’re aiming to make it a two-day event next year. That makes it more attractive for musicians to travel here.” He’s grateful to the Village of Fraser Lake for allowing the festival to use the arena and grounds at no charge, and to the sponsors who enabled the event to happen.

The biggest challenge, he said, was seeing how so many different artists, working in so many mediums, would mix, but says it worked out very well. Artist Pat Gauthier, who was demonstrating the art of watercolour painting, agrees. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, and there a lot of interesting people. There’s a nice energy with the mix of different types of art.”

The new bandstand by the arena was in heavy use, and Cannon said that the rain early in the day made them aware of a couple of drawbacks. “There needs to be an overhang of another six feet, as well as a covered place for speakers.” He also noted that another power station would be helpful, with so many people needing to be able to hook up to electricity.

It’s all, he noted, a part of the learning process. “There are a few things we’d do differently. And hopefully a two-day event would allow us to book more bands, rather than mostly solo or duo performers.”

Fraser Lake artist Marilynn Reyden, who’s on the Arts Council, said that everyone was open to the idea of the festival. “It’s great to be able to educate people. There can be a lack of awareness about what’s in our own town, art-wise. Local people come in to my gallery and say ‘I had no idea!’”

“I can see the festival growing from here,” says Lawrence, while Gauthier appreciates the variety of art forms the festival encompasses, and the fact that there’s something for everyone. “The mix of art appeals to different demographics, young to old.” Perhaps the most apt comment came from a woman who, having taken in all the colourful displays around the arena, paused by the door. “This was pretty awesome!”

Barbara Roden