It’s official: a new festival is coming to the streets of Westboro this spring.
© Justin van Leeuwen
Westboro Village BIA executive director Mary Thorne
by Craig Lord
The Westboro Village BIA has selected a festival proposal to replace Westfest, one that they hope will reflect the priorities that customers and members highlighted during their rebranding over the past year.
Aboriginal Experiences, Arts & Culture, the non-profit group behind the annual Summer Solstice festival, was chosen from a shortlist of three proposals submitted when the BIA put out its request in September.
Though the group has a decade of experience, working on the new project in Westboro represents a departure from previous events aimed at promoting Aboriginal artists and cultural education.
“I love thinking of new ways to engage people and learn more about our culture and a sense of community,” says Trina Mather-Simard, president and general manager of Aboriginal Experiences. “We’ve always enjoyed that festival aspect, being able to do and try new things to have people interact and engage. That’s what was really enticing to me about the RFP.”
The name and branding for the festival will come from the BIA’s first partner for the new endeavour, 50 Strategy and Creative – the same company that helped the WBIA with its recent rebrand.
“The relationship just makes sense for us to continue,” says Mary Thorne, executive director of the Westboro Village BIA. “They understand us. They will understand what the festival image should look like.”
Though plans are far from finalized, Ms. Thorne says she is excited about the possibilities. A main stage with headliners and a community stage for local talent are on the list, live culinary demonstrations, shows promoting active living, fashion, and maybe even a gospel choir.
“What our festival will reflect is what our customers told us. They have told us that we are dynamic, exciting, we are healthy, we are outdoor living, we are active, we are hip,” says Ms. Thorne.
The festival will take place June 10-12, one week after Westfest runs at its new location in Laroche Park. It is estimated the new festival will cost $100,000, a savings of $25,000 from last year’s Westfest.
“We’re very anxious to see this event happen. We promised it to our community, and we’re going to deliver it,” says Ms. Thorne.