Getting back to their roots 

Squamish celebrates arts, culture and heritage at fifth annual Wild At Art festival

click to enlarge Artful Fest Local artwork is displayed as part of Squamish's Wild at Art festivities in 2007. Photo by Garry Broeckling
  • Artful Fest Local artwork is displayed as part of Squamish's Wild at Art festivities in 2007. Photo by Garry Broeckling

Squamish is gearing up for a weekend full of fun and entertainment, as its fifth annual Wild at Art festival wraps up.

Events kicked off last weekend, and so far, festival coordinator, Carolyn Grass, says everything is going amazingly well, with a sold-out crowd on their opening night. But she anticipates that Saturday’s activities will be the pinnacle of the festival.

The West Coast Railway Heritage Park (WCRHP) is serving as the main hub of the festival, with the gallery housed in the PGE Car Shop – a massive building that is still used to store the Royal Hudson, and to work on machinery.

“It’s wide enough for three tracks and long enough for about two or three cars, so it’s a huge building, and it’s a heritage building, as well,” Grass points out, adding that it’s a great venue to help tie in the heritage element of the event.

Saturday starts off at 11 a.m. with a cookout by the Squamish Lions at their main venue at the WCRHP, where selections by artists from throughout the Sea to Sky corridor and as far south as North Vancouver will be on display at the gallery. Local performers will also entertain the crowds up on the Heritage Stage.

An entire block in downtown Squamish will be shut down from noon until midnight to make room for the festival’s main stage tent, which will be used for Wild in the Streets, an open-air concert headlined by Whistler’s own Kostaman.

The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic mascots – Sumi, Quatchi and Miga will also make an appearance to help kick off the day’s activities, and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the upcoming Games.

The third venue is the Community Connections at the Brennan Park Leisure Centre from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., with a free skate, an ice show entitled, “Sugar, Spice and Ice,” a farmer’s market, lots of food and crafts, live music, and art activities for kids.

Outside, there will be hot drinks, llama rides for kids, environmental displays, cars and bikes on show, and large working trucks, such as fire engines, available for exploration by curious children.

The concept of the festival first emerged in 2004 as a way to showcase the region during the Olympics by the District of Squamish. But in more recent years, the festival has started to evolve, growing into a 10-day celebration of local arts, culture and heritage. And it’s only going to get bigger.

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