Alberta Avenue is replete with the sounds of a community celebrating its diversity this weekend as the Kaleido Family Arts Festival returned for its 8th annual appearance. This unifying and revitalizing event is destined to attract positive attention for the neighbourhood and allow Edmontonians and visitors to appreciate 118th Avenue as well as the last few moments of summer.
Whether you’re in search of some quality family bonding time, a congregation of YEG’s best food trucks or a visual or performing arts show, this festival delivers. With the intention of finding the “unity” in community, the Arts on the Ave Edmonton Society has definitely drawn upon 118th Ave’s many multicultural resources. While traversing the 4 block span of the festival in search of the four indoor visual art venues I came across a multitude of different ethnic food and goods vendors, artists dancing, painting, performing and even being suspended from the roofs of surrounding buildings. In fact, there are over 200 different performances, activities, workshops, and visual arts shows to be taken in, or stumbled upon, over the course of the weekend. The Mainstage has seen performances by ballet and Ukrainian dancers, Aboriginal vocal groups, MC Shad, bands both local and international, and today you can look for the Fiesta Latina, featuring free traditional food, entertainment, and folkloric dance. If, perhaps, you prefer your art to be a bit more hands-on, then you can look for one of the many workshops, interactive art pieces, henna and glitter tattoo artists, or the large array of kids activities (which includes stilt walking and a life-sized snakes and ladders game) to be found scattered about the grounds. I highly recommend finding your way through the crowd towards venue 3, Don’s Grand Piano Gallery Stage, where you can browse local art while enjoying the melodies of a live pianist in the centre of the gallery. After that, grab a bite to eat at the Patty Wagon food truck for a 100% Non-Vegan experience or find the Sailin’ On truck for the stark opposite of a 100% Vegan meal (Try the Coconut BLT and I dare you to miss the meat). Then, all you have to do is wander and take direction from the many signs advising you to “look up” for artists in the air, dancing in the alley or decorating a lamp post.
The greatest asset of this festival is the eclectic nature of it’s offerings, which truly mirrors the diversity of the neighbourhood. Where else can you see belly dancers, visual artists, clowns, latina dancers, tai chi workshops, or a man dressed head to toe in vibrant spandex, all in one communal space? Besides, as the summer comes to an end, what better way to appreciate Edmonton other than savouring the last few moments of its festivals and food trucks before they pack up for the winter ahead? As clown Stuart McDougall told me, this is truly the “last chances to get out and do your thing [as a street performer] while it’s still nice out. As well, everyone is so friendly and so ready to just have fun and share their art.” So go on and experience the Kaleido Family Arts Festival and enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon surrounded by good people, great art and some sunshine.