Art & Nature Fest

This year's Canada Day weekend was an embarrassment of island riches: Saturday Market, the Raging Grannies, Crab Fest, classic cars, harbour fireworks, Ganga Giri at Fulford Hall. And the whole scene was made doubly fun by the thousands of wall-to-wall tourists, all duded up in their mustard pizza ice cream fudge stained t-shirts, providing delightful pitch-perfect straight man sunny dispositions of sincerity and gratitude when sent on harmless snipe hunts by humor-minded locals whenever they asked for directions. ("Turn left at the next street and then it's right across the street from the Walmart.")

Perhaps the most quintessentially Salt Spring Canada Day event was the Art & Nature Fest at Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve, home of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy. If there's two things that embody the intrinsic spirit of Salt Spring, it's definitely art and nature; and as the flyer title suggested, this event had an abundance of offerings.

Although it's a fairly common island sight to see someone doing interpretive dance in the park, or salamba sirsasana yoga headstands in a meadow, or to hear a Hang player lightly tapping out tones beneath a tall cedar, the Art & Nature Fest upped the ante by programming a multitude of music, dance, and visual arts onto the outdoor canvas of one of Salt Spring's most lovely jewels, Blackburn Lake.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the SSI Foundation also kicked in a grant to run the Kids' Zone. It's easiest to describe with a list, which is far from comprehensive: a labyrinth designed by Tisha Boulter; moth-themed printmaking for kids; origami seed packaging; the woman's singing group Women of Note; walking tours with butterfly, birding, and watershed experts; meditation, poetry, writing, photography, tai chi, and yoga workshops; and even the wee sound of bagpipes wafting in the wee distance.

Festival organizers have slated another day of fun on Monday August 7, from 3PM to 9PM. Visitors are strongly encouraged to bring a picnic, stretch out, and enjoy the old time North Americana sounds of the Buck Dodgers String Band. Shutterbugs may still submit photos from the event for consideration here in the COUGAR. Post your shots on your favorite social media with the #artandnaturefest hashtag and add “GRRRR!!” in your comment.

Photograph by Coreen Boucher

Photograph by Suzan Denis

Photograph by Justin Kolberg

Photograph by Greg Molesky

The Salt Spring Island COUGAR is open to art, literary works, poetry, creative non-fiction, photography, and other submissions from local residents.