I think street festivals – an event to highlight area businesses, to create a gathering space for neighbours and others, and to, in other words, celebrate a neighbourhood – are fantastic. Alberta Avenue’s Kaleido Festival (commemorating their fifth anniversary in 2010) and the East Meets West Festival (put on by Little Italy and Chinatown) are great examples of neighbourhood festivals.
When I stumbled upon details about the Highlands Street Festival (organized by the Highlands Community League) in a recent E-SAGE newsletter, I was surprised to read that this would be the fifth incarnation of the event. Centering at 112 Avenue and 65 Street, business, musicians and artists would be highlighted. Mack and I made plans to check it out after our weekly trip to the City Market on Saturday.
Between the abysmal weather, and an ETS bus completely passing us by at our stop, getting to Highlands was a bit harrowing. We eventually made it though, and found that thankfully, the festivities had continued in spite of the downpour.
Welcome to Highlands!
Most of the activities were relegated indoors. We started at Mandolin Books and Coffee Company, where a musician was entertaining a small crowd. We also happened to run into one of our old high school principals, who not only grew up in Highlands, but resides there still now. She’s been attending the festival since it began five years ago.
We stopped in Sabrina Butterfly Designs and Chickies, a charming little antiques store. While we didn’t buy anything, it was the first time either of us had been inside these shops. The storekeepers were friendly, and very open to people just passing through to take a look.
Inside Sabrina Butterfly Designs and Chickies
Lovely connecting yard
I was most looking forward to visiting the retail location of Catfish Coffee, which just opened at the beginning of April (you can also buy their coffee every Saturday at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, and at Mandolin down the street). The shop is clean and spacious, with a full view of the roasting machine, and set up on that day with carafes of all of their coffee varieties available for patrons to sample (with collected donations going towards the 2011 Highlands Beautification Project).
Though the owners aren’t able to run a full-scale cafe in the space, it was set up that way on Saturday, complete with music provided by Kristilyn Robertson.
Enjoying the ambiance
It was great to chat with the staff (they’re hoping to extend their retail hours over the summer). Of course, we couldn’t leave without picking up a bag of coffee too – the Guatemalan Highlands variety seemed fitting.
Though I’ve been to Culina Highlands a few times, this was my first trek through its neighbouring businesses. I was glad to have the excuse of the Highlands Street Festival to do so! I’ll be sure to look for it next year.