ArtsWells celebrated its 15th year in existence in style with a four day musical and arts extravaganza, which took place smack dab in the middle of the town of Wells from Aug 3 to 6.
Festival goers took in shows at a variety of venues from the grand yellow Community Hall to the warm Sunset Theatre to the intimate Wells Museum; and wandered around the town making new friends and reconnecting with others they might not have seen since the last ArtsWells.
Although the wardrobe varied from one person to another, one thing was constant, everyone was smiling.
There wasn’t a trace of attitude, ego or artifice to be found within the city limits or in the sea of camper vans and tents that surrounded it.
Performers came from all corners of the earth.
Kerryn Fields from New Zealand entertained a packed midday house at the Wells Pub on Saturday. Fields impressed the crowd with her captivating stage presence while performing and charmed them with her clever banter in between tunes.
The Outdoor Stage was geared more towards children, who swayed around a grassy dance floor while their parents enjoyed shows from the surrounding bleachers. California trio, Madeline Tasquin and Sarabande harmonized their way into a modest sized crowd’s hearts with some lovely songs, some of which drew upon Tasquin’s childhood in the Cariboo.
Artistic and Executive Director, Julia Fowler, says it has been a lovely year for the festival.
“We’ve tried to really expand some of the multimedia arts that we do,” she says.
“We obviously have a lot of music but this year we’ve partnered with the Sunset Theatre to show some of their Exploration Series.”
In order to instill a love for the arts, workshops were offered at the festival and in the week leading up to it.
Everything from visual arts to circus arts were very popular with all who engaged.
Thirty kids and 24 adults who took part in the four day song writing clinic performed their creations in front of audiences.
Fowler, who co-ordinated the workshops, found the performances quite moving.
“To see the magic of those connections and the learning that’s gone on was a highlight for me,” she says.
A first for the festival this year was a private reception for a gathering of international festival directors.
Representatives from the Auckland Folk Festival (New Zealand), Coastella festival (New Zealand), Signet Folk Festival (Tasmania), A Thousand Trees Festival (England), the Philadelphia Festival (USA) as well as 15 festival directors from B.C and Alberta came to see some local artists and to find out more about ArtsWells.
“We’re hoping to build more opportunities for artists through the festival,” says Fowler.
“It’s a great atmosphere and way for other festival directors to see an artist because you’re seeing them in a festival environment.”
While attendees were quite well behaved, throwing a festival within the confines of a small town can have its difficulties.
“It’s always a challenge when you’re right in a community and people’s houses are right there and right there and right there,” Fowler says while pointing in every direction.
“But for the most part 99.9 per cent of the people are respectful and we have a lot of returning artists and volunteers and festival goers Who help spread the message to people who are coming here for the first time.”