By Grace Oborne
Finding the full breathe of art that is inspired by the Highlands is coming to Head Lake Park this week.
On Friday, July 22 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday July 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and July 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre will showcase its 59th Annual Haliburton Art and Craft Festival at Head Lake Park.
Due to a pandemic hiatus, this will be the first time that the annual summer event will take place since 2019.
The gallery’s curator and executive director, Laurie Jones, is encouraging residents to visit, not only to support local artists and their work, but to experience a festival that holds purpose.
“It’s a curated open air festival experience that has three purposes: One is to create a space where artists and artisans can meet, show their work, and sell their work directly to the to the public. Two, is to educate and give a live demonstration of what excellence and creativity is, and three is to help people understand the value of handmade. To give them the opportunity to touch things, and to perhaps start a collection that they had never thought of doing before, or to get something that means something to them,” Jones said.
Jewellery, sculptures, woodwork, visual art, and fashion are just a few forms of art that will be presented at the festival by the 75 artists and artisans.
Visitors can expect to see a few vendors will be producing clever and distinctive outdoor art made from steel and reclaimed metals and reclaimed objects.
“One artist uses cars and canoes, car hoods and car doors and another artist uses farm equipment. They are quite stunning pieces,” Jones said.
The festival will feature a special performance called The Birds by Les Chasseurs de Rêves. This being presented by Razzamataz Kids’ Shows!, a local non-profit, volunteer group that has brought live entertainment to Haliburton County for more than 25 years.
The show will be live on both Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., where puppet birds are ridden by attired stilt walkers, and follow their tamer in a beautifully choreographed dance and walk-around of the festival’s grounds.
Programmer for Razzamataz Kids’ Shows!, Nicole Stewart, said that since the show is new to the festival this year, it will be exciting and unexpected.
“It’s something entirely new and exciting that we’re bringing here, that we’ve not done before. I think it’s going to be something that people will be quite surprised to see but they’re going to like it,” Stewart said.
The show has been designed to match with the workings and momentum of the festival, which is what makes the show unique.
“It’s not going to be a sit-down show. We’ve designed it so that it fit really well with the festival, in that you’ve got a lot of people sort of stopping by and mingling to see what’s happening. Some may not stay the whole time, but they’ll definitely be able to get a flavor for the show,” explained Stewart.
The annual festival is a fundraiser in support of Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre community arts programming.
“This festival brings in a substantial portion of our operating income. Of course, the funds are to support Rails End Gallery, but it’s part of our core. Our core mission is to present things like this in public space. We wouldn’t be what we are today without all these artists,” said Jones.
Entry is by donation and can be performed in various ways. In fact, the gallery has a new tap to pay system which is wireless and works with credit, debit, and mobile wallets. Donations are $5 per tap. Cash donations can be any amount.
Rails End Gallery is utilizing social media to provide more information about the Art and Craft Festival. Pictures and more information about the event’s vendors can be found @haliburtonartandcraft on Instagram. Jones is encouraging artists and individuals who will be at the festival, to use the hashtag #haliburtonartandcraft to exhibit pictures from the weekend-long event.
For more information on the Haliburton Art and Craft Festival visit railsendgallery.com/haliburton-art-and-craft.