FernFest fostering ­community ­connections through local ­performances

›› Melissa Faye Reid

On June 21st and 22nd, Fernwood Square transforms into a swirling cosmos of ­performances, markets, a bike parade, and above all else, community spirit. FernFest is back for its 24th year and, let’s just say, is only ripening with age. This free, two day, all-ages event features an array of local musicians and performers. From comedy to funk, FernFest’s community vibe is ­mirrored in this year’s lineup from Vancouver-based Schwey, to local folks, such as Fox Glove.

Fox Glove’s own Renn Madeleine Bibeau said, “Including local performers in festivals not only keeps local musicians, artists, and performers engaged in their own community, it keeps the local arts community vibrant.”

Many colourful acts will appear on three different stages this year, including the ­Belfry, Gazebo, and Market Stage. If you’re looking for some laughs, be sure to check out the Campfire Empire ­Comedy Hour, but keep your eyes peeled for local performers Rotten Apple Ruckus, The Copper Lights, Stevie Wise & The Big Feelings, Diamond Café, Downtown ­Mischief, Nasti Weather, and many more.

Comedy isn’t the only new program added to FernFest’s lineup this year. The Belfry Theatre will host a range of ­workshops giving FernFest attendees the chance to meet local performers and learn about their creative processes.

By highlighting local talent, patrons can experience a sense of comradery with other community members. Supporting local festivals and performers fosters strong ­community connections, which is one of the core values of FernFest, and why, I think, it is successful year after year.

Local band, Betty and the Kid, ­performing on the Belfry Stage said, “It’s important to celebrate and acknowledge the artists that you see day to day. So many folks in our community have something special to share and it can inspire us all to make art, because when we see people in our ­communities that create, we can say ‘oh wait, I can do that!’ It reiterates that anyone can participate in the cultural experience.”

So come one, come all to the 24th annual FernFest! See a new band, check out a workshop, grab a hot dog, and swap a stranger for a new friend. Put yourself out there because no one knows where that connection may lead. We formally invite you to jump into—and become—the ­swirling ­cosmos that is FernFest. All we ask for in return is that you enjoy the show!

Check out the performers at fernwoodnrg.ca/fernfest/performers