Summer Music Sundays

Jacklyn Wills Band

The summer festival circuit really took a huge hit when COVID 19 shut everything down including the Alvinston Arts & Music Fest. With time off and some reflection the organizers of the annual festival decided to scale back their endeavours in 2022. “I feel that the time taken off for COVID has many of us craving a relaxed social interaction, especially things we can bring kids to, “ Vanessa Benoit, organizer of the Summer Sunday’s in the Park told me.

Local artist and one of the founding members of the Brooke-Alvinston Arts & Activity Group Liana Russwurm (me) stepped down during COVID 19 from running the annual Alvinston Arts & Music Fest. The remaining members including Vanessa Benoit, Jason Benoit, Kathryn Shailer, Stephanie Hinz, Daisy Fresh and Ann Towell have refocused and instead of having a large one day fest opted to 3 Sundays with a focus on the music and hands on art making for the kids.

The group has picked one Sunday each month in the Alvinston Community Park for a day of music and crafts for kids. June 12th marked the first event in the summer music series. Each month the event will run from 1 to 4 pm with two bands scheduled to entertain while Alvinston artist Daisy Fresh in collaboration with the Lambton County Library set up in a tent doing crafts kids. The June 12th show featured the bands JPD Review at 1pm followed by Jaclyn Wills. In the tent Daisy had the kids making musical instruments including a kazoo a drum and beer cap clackers.

Artist Daisy Fresh helping the kids make musical instruments at the first Summer Sunday’sin the Park

Vanessa would like to see the Summer Sundays in the Park continue into the future with 2022 being the inaugural year.

The Alvinston Arts & Music Fest started back in August 2015 as a result of the Brooke-Alvinston Arts & Activity Group (BAAAG) having some hamburgers generously donated to them by the Cattlemen’s Association. The burgers were left over from a meat raffle the group had held at the Alvinston Legion. That first year, a small event with two musical acts, solo artist Jamie Hiscox and the band Ruff Round Th’Edges. They also booked inspirational speaker Talli Osborne to speak about bullying and body acceptance. The group also invited the Deker Bauer Foundation to set up a table where people could pick up info on suicide prevention. A few local artisans also set up displays to sell their wares and overall the day was a success. Organizers hoped the event would bring community awareness to the fairly new arts group and to sell some burgers! Local Cattlemen Association member Tom Lassoline donned his BBQ apron and cooked up some amazing burgers. The Painted Cat from Sarnia spent the afternoon turning kids into zombies and cats while kids made a mess in the arts area.

The group was beginning to raise money to help set up an arts space at the Municipal Building on the top floor. They had received a $10,000 grant from the Lambton County Creative County Program which was to be used towards programming, speakers, presenters and teachers for creative classes. The groups focus included bringing speakers to the community that inspired youth, helping them gain tools to deal with bullying and bringing forth issues and struggles that youth facing in todays society, gender identity, racism, depression etc. Every year after the inaugural Alvinston Arts & Music Fest and Talli Osborne speaking on bullying and body acceptance the group made it a priority to find a speaker for the festival as a way of bringing light to these issues.

Motivational speaker, Talli Osborne at the inaugural Alvinston Arts & Music Fest

Working each year alongside Armor’s Ale House and support from the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston they were able to close off River Street at Railroad to fence off an area with a liquor license. A stage was set up for the main band to end the day with a street dance. The festivals date, always in August, the Saturday after Watford Corn Fest. When it rained the bands were able to move indoors to Armor’s allowing the event to continue. Vendors came with hand made works of art and each year the Arts Council of East Lambton’s Creative Road Show came out and set up a crafts area for kids to explore their creativity.

The Painted Cat working her make up magic at the first annual Alvinston Arts & Music Fest

The 2019 Alvinston Arts & Music Fest was their 5th year and the biggest year to date. The organizers brought back Talli Osborne as the speaker and they moved the handmade vendors out onto the street. They also hired street chalk artists to bring live art out onto the street. This year they also expanded by including a tent where children authors could do readings. This year all the bands preformed on the main stage and it was the first year the group didn’t include any area where it could be licensed for a street dance. The organizers had artist Daisy Fresh create a logo and they had t-shirt available to sell.

The 2019 Fest was a lot more work for the group and I a founding member had already handed over some of the reigns to focus on other creative endeavours. When COVID hit and with those two years off I wasn’t ready to invest the amount of time needed to pick back up. My belief is the festival which I envision wasn’t working. The amount of work required to pull it off wasn’t gaining the audience needed to support the musicians and vendors. Maybe one day as Alvinston grows and new people move to town who are looking for more creative events we can revisit bringing the full festival back. I believe the Summer Sundays in the Park is the perfect replacement for the community and what it needs.

The organizers are once again working alongside Armor’s Alehouse and if the weather turns to rain the music and Childrens activities can move inside continuing the entertainment. If the know the weather isn’t cooperating in advance the group will update people on the Alvinston Arts & Music Fest’s Facebook Page,

The next Summer Sundays in the Park takes place on July 10th and organizers are excited to welcome Désirée McCaulsky at 1 pm followed by Outro featuring Julianne and Ryan Breen. August 14th will finish off the season with local band Deciduous starting at 1 pm with local Alvinston artist and musician Peter Mellis’s band, Crop Tour, getting on stage at 2:30 pm ending the summers music in the park with a bang. “I really look forward to seeing people out enjoying themselves at our Sundays in July and August,” Vanessa said, “bring a lawn chair!”

The first Summer Sundays in the Park

Summer Sunday’s in the Park

Summer Sunday’s in the Park Line Up

Alvinston Arts & Music Fest


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