Date Night: Hawkers Market & Parka Patio Party

In spite of how far we’ve come, there’s still a stereotype that nothing happens downtown on evenings and weekends. Well, on a recent weekend, we hopped from a great food event to a happening party, which all took place within a few blocks of one another.

We started out the evening at the second Hawkers Market to take place in Edmonton, again at the Mercer Warehouse. Conceived as an incubator of sorts for new food-related businesses, I think it still has a ways to go before it is able to attract the newer entrepreneurial efforts who really are seeking a platform to road test products.


Brittney and I at Hawkers Market

That said, Hawkers Market is still a great addition to the food scene in Edmonton, particularly in the winter, when economical events are harder to come by. Although the line-up of vendors was remarkably similar to the previous event, it didn’t deter the crowds. Organizers estimated about 100 more people this time around, and at least one vendor sold out an hour and a half into the evening.


The Drift team!

Kara of Drift Food Truck made a good point – the provision of seating really changed the experience for attendees. They encouraged people to linger and stay and to perhaps have another drink or dish that they wouldn’t have otherwise indulged in.


Busy night

As a result, the atmosphere seemed more festive, with friends gathering around tables, facilitating sharing all that much more. Mack and I sampled a handful of dishes, starting with bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers ($5) from Low & Slow Barbecue, a new vendor at the event. Some people might be familiar with them from the 124 Street Grand Market, but this was our first encounter with their food. Mack enjoyed them well enough, though we were told later on that their pulled pork was the standout.


Jalapeno poppers from Low & Slow Barbecue

Slow Food Edmonton had a booth, offering both sweet and savoury concoctions. I really liked their version of grilled cheese ($3), made up of a base of Bon Ton bread, a crackling crust of The Cheesiry’s pecorino, and a dollop of Mojo JoJo Pickles’ salted caramel pear butter.


Chad Moss cooks up some sandwiches


Slow Food Edmonton’s grilled cheese

Their local marshmallow trifecta ($4) was a unique dessert, with my favourite of the three being the honey-scented treat, topped with a honey toffee crumb.


Marshmallow treats from Slow Food Edmonton

Mack couldn’t resist Bully’s perogies and ham ($8). We anticipated tasty perogies, but what blew us away was the house cured and smoked ham steak, which was so tender it flaked under a fork alone. And you can always hand it to Bully to win the serving size sweepstakes!


Dean serves a mean ham!


Bully’s perogies and ham

Our favourite dish of the night was from Parts & Service, a food truck hoping to hit the streets this spring. Their take on chicken and waffles ($5) was ingenious from a street food perspective, as it could easily be eaten standing up with one hand. Not to mention, the house made chicken sausage (wrapped in a waffle cone) was delicious! It was served with maple syrup and an apple hot sauce, but really, the sausage was seasoned so well it didn’t need any accompaniments. I’m even more excited about their truck now!


Chicken and waffles from Parts & Service

I was most looking forward to dessert from Paper Bag Donuts (cooked up by Red Ox Inn chef Sean O’Connor). I had missed them at the last event, as I mistook their table as an extension of the bar. This time, they had an overhead sign advertising meyer lemon curd donuts ($3)  and honey crullers ($5). We chose the latter, and weren’t disappointed with the warm, freshly fried treats.


Paper Bag Donuts

We had a great time, and based on that night, I think Hawkers Market has the potential to become a staple event in our community. For those who missed out, mark your calendars – the next event is scheduled for April 12, 2014.

Full, we walked over to Latitude 53, which was hosting their annual Parka Patio Party. Mack and I had attended their first ever winter patio party in 2012, but the weather had been kinder that year. This year, with temperatures hovering around –30 with windchill, we were grateful that the event had an indoor component.

Parka Patio Party

Parka Patio Party

That said, we had dressed for an outdoor function, and like other attendees, had no use for the coat racks set aside.

Parka Patio Party

What coat racks?

Hot tea and soup were served inside, but playing up the Ice Land theme, organizers were offering make-your-own cocktails out on the patio. Not only did this involve an ice luge, but also an array of frozen fruit. Needless to say, we gave it a shot.

Parka Patio Party

Ice luge!

If that wasn’t enough, Pinocchio Ice Cream was also on hand sampling newer product varieties – popcorn and salted caramel ice cream.

Parka Patio Party

Tom from Pinocchio Ice Cream

A DJ kept the spirits up indoors, and in addition to art up for silent auction, there was also a fun “Scandinavian Toy-Scape” installed in the space (I loved the little waving monster!).

Parka Patio Party

Too cute

It was great to catch up with some familiar faces at the party, and to take part in a winter event, that in spite of the cold, played to a packed house.

Parka Patio Party

The cold didn’t keep people away

Thanks again to Latitude 53 for the tickets! Here’s hoping it’s just a few degrees warmer next year.

IllumiNITE 2013

Similar to Deep Freeze, IllumiNITE is another grassroots, community-led festival that celebrates winter (in this case, its darkness), and provides a great opportunity for people to engage with art outdoors.

Last weekend, the festival took over the pocket park on 104 Street, lining the paths with fourteen different light sculptures.

IllumiNITE 2013

Pocket Park

Like last year, it was wonderful to see the creativity and imagination from the different artists. The life-sized Street Brite by Chris van der Hoek and Bobby Harris was a fun example of interactive art – kids and adults alike were having a blast playing with the display.

IllumiNITE 2013

Street Brite

I also appreciated the installations that took the park itself into consideration, whether that meant a projection and enhancement of a pine tree, or the use of trees as a structural element.

IllumiNITE 2013

Untitled by Laurissa Kalinowsky and team

IllumiNITE 2013

Lighting was used in different ways too – I loved the eye-catching Morse code display, as well as the ethereal piece strung up on the hill.

IllumiNITE 2013

IllumiNITE 2013

Though we didn’t partake, bannock making was in full swing as well! Fires and food are always a good cold weather combination.

IllumiNITE 2013

Bannock making

A pop-up shop was also set up in former 29 Armstrong space, and after the fact, we heard that there was an ice bar outside of Cask & Barrel. It wasn’t evident on the street that there was anything south of Jasper Avenue, so a minor improvement for next year would be to include a small map on the program. But otherwise, another fantastic event by the organizing committee – bravo on a second successful year!

Visualeyez 2010

Performance art has always seemed a bit elusive to me – more than anything else, it probably has to do with my lack of familiarity with the medium rather than the art itself.

So when I found out that the 11th annual Visualeyez Festival, put on by Latitude 53, had adopted a theme of food this year, I was excited. Nothing like a topic that I love to get me interested and more willing to take the leap into the unknown.

Unlike an art gallery, where the pieces are static and accessible, for the most part, during operational hours, and unlike the Fringe theatre festival, where every staged production is performed multiple times, the Visualeyez Festival is not only brief by comparison at six days in length, but also, performances of some works were only scheduled to take place once.

That said, on the day Communications Assistant Alaine Mackenzie invited me to the festival, I was able to get a taste of three very different interpretations of the theme (and still can partake in one piece not bound by time – by downloading an audio tour of the Sobeys Urban Fresh).

Alaine was also really excited about this year’s theme of food, and really thought the banner would help break down the barriers of those daunted by the idea of performance art. The gallery was quiet when I arrived, but by the time the afternoon’s main event was underway, the main space was nearly full.

First, she introduced me to Alison Reiko Loader and Kelly Andres, who described their project titled kinder/garden as a “food laboratory”. Different from most of the other performances, both were on-site tending to the lab every day, and made a point of changing the space daily.

Alison and Kelly are based in Montreal, where they applied for and received space at the Concordia University greenhouse. They used the greenhouse to explore the idea of manipulating life, including Alison’s creepy but fascinating project of force-growing vegetables into moulds that resembled fetuses.

Pickled tomato

Pickled fetus-moulded tomato and cross-sections

The installation also featured other “live” foods, including yogurt (packed in plastic containers resembling test tubes for patrons to take home), a “doughbie” (a loaf of bread in a baby sling), and bacteria cultures in Petri dishes. Kelly was even serving up wheatgrass martinis (wheatgrass pulp + sparkling mineral water). Alaine and I decided to indulge. More than tasting like grass, it smelled like grass, but it definitely seemed to cleanse on the way down.

Wheatgrass pulp

Kelly at work making our martinis

Alaine and me


Alison and Kelly were more than happy to talk about their project, and this struck me as the most exciting thing about performance art – the dialogue between the patron and the artist. Sure, some galleries host evenings with the artists, and some theatres offer talk backs with the actors, but here, the very point is the exchange itself.

Next, I chatted with Cindy Baker, the Festival Animator. Her role was to attend all of the performances and blog about it, in the hopes of generating buzz and documenting the festival itself. She has done a great job, filing several thoughtful posts a day. She did comment that for a festival about food, however, there wasn’t much food being served.

I also wandered into Chun Hua Catherine Dong’s rice painting set, called Hourglass. Cindy did an exceptional job elaborating on some of the themes of her piece, so much so that I feel like I don’t have anything to add. Except to say that while the task of attempting to fill the bowl with painted grains of rice was futile, I enjoyed the experience. I liked the fact that there were only two chairs (even though many more hands would have resulted in lighter work), and that I was able to connect with another person, even for a brief moment, by sharing in the same task.


Two patrons taking on the task

Though Food Wars was delayed a couple hours due to the sheer number of dishes the two artists were putting together, I have to say, the food was worth the wait. The performance was billed as an Iron Chef-esque showdown: “Armed with only amateur cooking skills and each family’s secret recipes, Mexican artist Manolo Lugo and Guatemalan born artist Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa cook up a storm to prove which nation has the best cuisine!” The intention was for patrons to sample food from both countries, and vote for their favourite.

Todd Janes

Latitude 53 Executive Director Todd Janes introduces the artists

Manolo and Naufús both did an exceptional job setting up their display tables, Manolo with a colourful fruit garnish and Naufús with an intense fondant-covered cake shaped like a Mayan pyramid (it was handy that a chef from Junction next door was in attendance, as she ended up helping Naufús with the fondant).

Preparing the cake

Dressing the Mayan cake

Guatemalan table

Naufús’s Guatemalan spread

From reading the description of the show, I did expect more exposition before the food free-for-all – someone in the audience had to prompt the artists for explanations of the dishes. Between the two, I thought Manolo did a better job, which was probably the main reason my vote went to him (because really, the food from both sides was equally good). An idea I was hoping they would explore further was substitutions in spite of their quest for “authenticity” – though some of the ingredients needed for their dishes were available to them here, Manolo expressed that he had to use similar but not the exact ingredients as specified in traditional recipes.

Mexican table

Manolo’s Mexican spread

Standout dishes for me included the Guatemalan stewed bananas in spicy chocolate mole, the Guatemalan cake (it was supposed to taste like Guatemalan egg nog, but I just thought it was delicious), Mexican stuffed poblanos with pecan sauce (the pomegranate seeds on top are such an inspired idea) and the Mexicn pibil chicken topped with pickled purple onions (you can check out the full menu here).

Mexican plate

Mexican plate

Guatemalan plate

Guatemalan plate (as you can tell, I reused the plate)

I think everyone was in a delirious food coma by the time I left, before the winner was declared (for the record, it was Mexico, though apparently some ballot box stuffing went down). And though a part of me still wanted more of a “performance” from Food Wars, between the food and the conversation, did it really matter?

Thanks again to Alaine for the invitation – I’m not sure I would have made it down to the festival without a push, and now that I’ve been to Visualeyez, I will likely return in the future.

Latitude 53 Summer Rooftop Patio Series Finale

I don’t know where the summer has gone – I had great intentions to attend one of the earlier dates of Latitude 53’s Summer Rooftop Patio Series, but before I knew it, their final engagement had come upon us. So though Mack had an early start yesterday (having woken up at the crack of dawn for his segments on Breakfast Television), he was a trooper and accompanied me to the gallery to have a drink.

I loved the laid-back vibe of the event, encouraging patrons to peruse the art with a drink in hand, while volunteers brought around trays of food (in this instance, appetizers were sponsored by Blue Plate Diner).

Rooftop Patio @ Latitude 53

Rooftop patio!

It was a weird evening, weather-wise, however. The above photo was snapped just moments before the skies opened up for a huge downpour…only to clear a little while later. So though the intention was to enjoy the cool summer breeze, we spent most of our time there wandering the gallery spaces and chatting with other attendees indoors (Jonas St. Michael’s Gore, Quebec was creepy and stirring all at the same time – how about that cow’s head next to the axe?).

It’s always fun to meet new people at events such as these, and Thursday was no different. We also saw a few familiar faces, and one in particular – my sister Amanda, who was in the area and had decided to join us.

Rooftop Patio @ Latitude 53

Amanda and Mack (shilling for Alley Kat in the photo, apparently)

Though I’m a little sad that this was the last patio date of the season, I’m glad we were able to take in the Rooftop Patio once this summer! See you next year!

Refinery at the Art Gallery of Alberta

Two weeks ago, the Art Gallery of Alberta hosted their second Refinery Late Night Art Party, a new series of events with music, food and drinks aimed at making art more accessible for the “next gen” set. I love the idea, particularly because I think the gallery space, with such a fantastic location, is underutilized in the evening hours. And, really, who doesn’t love a good party?


In place of a welcome sign

Mack was offered two free tickets in exchange for twittering during the event – a fair request, and one he happily accepted. We arrived promptly at 8pm, then realized it was one of those functions where it was chic to be fashionably late. On the bright side, it meant we had ample time to explore the exhibits before the other guests arrived, and had the gallery spaces mostly to ourselves.


Perfect night to enjoy the terrace

Each Refinery party is themed around one of the current gallery exhibitions – this one highlighted The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons, which will be displayed until October 11, 2010. Related activities included: the opportunity to contribute to a film reel, which would be screened later that night; a lecture from artist Josh Holinaty, who had created fun “ACME pocket companions”; an improv show out on the terrace featuring Rapid Fire Theatre’s Amy Shostak and Arlen Konopaki; and amusing condiment portraits with Sarah Jackson, one of our favourite local designers (she was a trooper, drawing non-stop for several hours).


Working on the collective film reel


Amy Shostak and Arlen Konopaki, improvisers extraordinaire


Sarah hard at work

We even had our photo taken in front of a Warner Bros. backdrop, complete with props!


In our own cartoon

ZINC Catering took care of everyone with non-stop trays of food. We were a little aghast at the constant flow of servers who doled out over a dozen appetizers. Most were variations of crostini, but there were some other interesting bites, including rabbit and wild boar patés, and a jicama slaw. The best food item of the night was hands down the ice cream bar – it was difficult to choose between chocolate, strawberry, and strawberry banana flavours, so I took one for the team and sampled all of them (strawberry won out).


Caramelized onion and goat cheese crostini


Jicama salad

Though tickets were on the pricey side ($55, and $45 for AGA Ultra members), between the food and drink, opportunity to view the exhibits and added entertainment, I think it works out to be a pretty good deal. I’ll definitely consider attending the next Refinery party, slated for November 20, 2010.


The crowd after dark

Thanks to the AGA for the tickets and to the organizers for a great night!

You can read Mack’s recap here, and see our photoset here.

Spring Gallery Walk 2010

Mack and I have lived in west Oliver, just five minutes from the Gallery Walk district, for nearly two years now, but have never taken the time to visit any of the galleries. I suppose it felt a bit daunting to just walk into the intimate spaces, all exhibiting art available for purchase. However, I knew that the Spring Gallery Walk, a twice-yearly event encouraging the public to tour the galleries, was just around the corner, so planned to go.

Gallery Walk sign marker in front of Electrum Design Studio

It was a beautiful day on Saturday, and it was great to see many Edmontonians taking advantage of this pedestrian-friendly event. Signs and festive balloons were a welcoming sight, and marked the entrances of each of the seven member galleries. Cookies and beverages were served at many sites, a nice reward for the children we saw along for the ride.

Inside Peter Robertson Gallery

The exhibits were diverse, with some galleries focusing on just one or two artists, and others that showcased dozens. Our favourite galleries overall were the Agnes Burgera Gallery and the West End Gallery, which for us, had more accessible art, and some memorable cityscapes and sculptures. Tu Gallery was also notable for featuring some stunning handcrafted furniture.

In an inspired tie-in, patrons were invited to collect stamps from each of the member galleries on a postcard-sized passport. If five stamps were collected, the bearer would be entitled to free admission to the Art Gallery of Alberta (we saw AGA Executive Director Gilles Herbert and AGA Board Chair Allan Scott pounding the pavement today).

My completed passport!

Of course, the area businesses also benefited from this event, with many patrons stopping by area shops on their way to the next gallery. We decided to celebrate the sunshine with some stellar gelato from Bueno Gelato (12325 102 Avenue).

Raspberry and banana gelato

We also stepped into Flur Designs (10260 124 Street), a lovely little floral and gift shop that has been in business for two and a half months. A clean, bright store filled with gorgeous flowers and great gifts (like Vanishing Creatures Chocolate, where the packaging can be repurposed into a floating candle display), it’s a great addition to High Street. I couldn’t resist picking up a bouquet of fresh white flowers.

Flur Designs

The Gallery Walk (and the excuse to take time to explore the neighbourhood) was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I’m also happy to say I feel like I wouldn’t need the pretense of the Gallery Walk to visit their exhibits in the future.

The Walk continues on Sunday, April 18 from noon-4pm – check it out if you can!

A Gem for the Core: the Art Gallery of Alberta

I haven’t always been sold on the new Art Gallery of Alberta. When Randall Stout’s design was announced as the winner, I remember flinching at the thought of such a jarring steel structure anchoring Edmonton’s arts and culture district. Over time (and recognition of the “big picture”), I’ve begun to really appreciate the structure and what it might mean to the city. When I attended Stout’s presentation on his inspiration for the design back in September, I was even more enlightened – even though he is not from Edmonton, Stout seemed to understand what we needed – from an architectural perspective as well as a community engagement standpoint. Not only did the building make a statement visually, but the incorporation of more public space (including an outdoor terrace), classrooms, and an underground entrance that connects directly to the LRT should encourage better usage and visitation of the gallery as a whole.

The new Art Gallery of Alberta

I was really excited when Mack told me that the AGA would be extending social media folks a sneak peek of the facility. Although the gallery spaces would be off limits (we have tickets to the grand opening this weekend anyway), it would still be a great opportunity to preview the building, construction and all.

The crowd

Mack behind the camera

Executive Director Gilles Hébert and Media Relations and Communications Coordinator Sarah Hoyles acted as our tour guides, and led our group of thirty or so to all of the public spaces.

Sarah Hoyles and Gilles Hébert

No question – the new AGA is an absolutely stunning facility. Between the sweeping steel aurora borealis, four stories of glass panes, unadorned Douglas fir panels, and alternatively lustrous/matte zinc blocks, the gallery is the building equivalent of a photogenic superstar. In the next few weeks, the public will be treated to an endless image parade of its shiny, pretty interior – and I have to say that I for one won’t get tired of looking at any of them.

Looking east

Glass, steel, Douglas fir, zinc

Collecting snow

I was most excited to hear that the AGA doubled its public/events space, something I think that is sorely lacking in the core. Besides the great hall, I loved the third floor terrace – it’s about time Edmonton has another rooftop patio downtown (the cafe adjacent to the patio will be installed in February).

Terrace reflections

The view from the terrace

Many are also looking forward to the new downtown dining option of ZINC. Walking into the space, I was immediately reminded of Cactus Club Bentall 5, but I couldn’t fathom how 76 people could be seated inside. Staff were busy being trained so we couldn’t stick around, but I loved the blue glass against the bar and all of the natural light. Menu details have been sparse (you can see the teaser here), but the chef has said he will be sourcing ingredients locally.

With fellow food blogger Chris in front of ZINC

The bar at ZINC

Soon to be a cafe (on the basement floor)

Last but not least – the art. Though we weren’t able to view any of the exhibitions (most of them were still being installed anyway), Sarah and Gilles provided us with what to expect. Besides the Yousuf Karsh portrait exhibition (photos include Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill and Audrey Hepburn), I am also looking forward to the multimedia piece called Storm Room. The ten minute installation will treat parties of ten to the experience (showers and all) of an approaching storm. The AGA’s  innovative partnership with the National Gallery of Canada will also mean that the AGA now has access to the National Gallery’s collections, and will be able to design their own exhibitions to display in Edmonton. First up: Francisco Goya’s prints.

Thanks to the AGA for organizing this preview! I didn’t think I could anticipate the official opening any more, but after this teaser, I am counting down the days to the weekend.

There are numerous posts on the tour, but here are a few: Mack’s blog, Chris at Eating is the Hard Part and Bruce at Moments in Digital. You can see our photoset here.

Alberta Arts Days: Citadel Open House and Randall Stout

After a visit to the City Centre Market (only 2 more opportunities left!), I packed up a lunch and met Mack at Churchill Square. Our day of arts activities would start at the nearby Citadel. As a part of Alberta Art Days, the Citadel had opened its doors and stage to the public for a behind-the-scenes look at their theatre, and I wasn’t about to miss it as I had last year.

Mack in the Tucker Amphitheatre

There were costumes on display, in addition to dance and stage combat demonstrations, but the real draw for me was the backstage tour.

Costumes from the Wizard of Oz

Citadel staff led us behind the Shoctor Theatre stage, where we took a peek inside their beautifully-refurbished green room, narrow change area, quick change area, and incredibly complex fly system of ropes and pulleys.

Change area

Quick change area (with my reflection in the mirror)


A small portion of the ropes backstage that control the fly system (to allow for backdrop changes, among other things)

The brother-sister team who head up carpentry and lighting then gave us a quick orientation to their work. Unlike some other companies, the Citadel constructs all of their own sets. However, they pressed upon us how “low-tech” things could be – for example, the bottle that conveyed Tinkerbell’s bottle prison in Peter Pan was nothing more than LED lights and a circuit board controlled by simple switches.

Heads of lighting and carpentry, on the set of The Drowsy Chaperone

The view from the Shoctor stage

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the whole of the tour, as we had to leave for our engagement next door at the Winspear. When we both heard that Randall Stout, the man behind the controversial new Art Gallery of Alberta design, would be speaking, we jumped at the opportunity to hear his address.

Randall Stout

Like having the curtain drawn on anything, listening to Stout talk about his inspiration and choices behind the design made me appreciate the building further. The dichotomy of the sweeping stainless steel curves and boxy zinc forms was Stout’s observation of the disparity between our serene river valley and urban core, although the curves also reference the aurora borealis. The interior will have not only a great hall accented by four stories of glass panes, but also a grand staircase that will link it all together. Photos of the hall reminded me of the stunning Newseum we visited in DC, and if it has even a fraction of the grandiosity of that building, I think Edmontonians will have something to be extremely proud of. I’m also excited to see the  third floor outdoor terrace and street-level cafe.

What most struck me about his address was how well Stout seemed to know Edmonton, or at least the ideal that the city could be. For example, he showed one early conceptual shot of the gallery, with a similarly sweeping steel entrance highlighting the LRT across the street – he said that although the LRT entrance was beyond the scope of the competition, it was his “gift” to the City’s fathers, in the hopes that they would incorporate it on their own.

The new AGA, still under construction

The gallery will officially open on January 31, 2010. If you want to learn more about the background of the design, the Art Gallery of Alberta is currently hosting an exhibit called Building a Vision, which covers its conception to construction (remember – the gallery offers pay-what-you-may admission on Thursdays from 4-8pm!).

These are exciting times in Edmonton – I’m looking forward to January already!

Take it to the Streets: Old Strathcona Fashion Extravaganza, Street Sale & Art Walk

I remember having intentions to visit last summer’s Whyte Avenue Street Sale, but never got around to it. So this year, I jumped at the chance to kill three birds with one stone – namely, the Old Strathcona Art Walk, Fashion Extravaganza, and of course, the opportunity to shop on pavement.

The weather was perfectly glorious for outdoor activities of any kind on Sunday, including the open-air catwalk that greeted us at 82nd and Gateway Boulevard. As my sister predicted, the fashion show turned out to be rather “lame” – the DJ had a preference for one-hit dance tunes from the 90s, some of the models left the stage before the announcer was finished with their outfit label rundown, and tags on some items were clearly visible from the crowd. On the bright side, much improvement can and will happen should the event be repeated in the future (here’s a video clip courtesy of Mack’s Flip if you’re interested).

Crowded runway


We continued down the street, pausing on occasion to peruse discounted wares in addition to displays set up by local artists participating in the Art Walk. Perhaps it’s too cliché or tourist-oriented, but I was expecting to see more pieces devoted to Edmonton’s land or cityscape for sale.

Street sale

A kayak, anyone?

How about a turtle?

Art Walk

More art for sale

Mack can never avoid the beckoning call of mini doughnuts

We also wandered into a number of stores. Notable was Ten Thousand Villages (10432 82 Avenue), where Mack found a visor that was perfect for him, and Eden Lilly (10416 82 Avenue), which carries a line of locally-designed cards that were too cheeky not to photographically commemorate.

Coke visor!


Double take? (Cards by Brulak Design Studio, available in 11 locations in Edmonton)

On our way back north, we noticed that the High Level Bridge waterfall was on as it had been earlier in the day (yesterday was also the Sourdough River Festival – it amazes me how many events took place on one day). We scrambled to park the car so we could take pictures (and a video!).


By late afternoon, we had built up quite the appetite. Thankfully, we had tickets to Edmonton’s Countryside Taste of Summer event.

Edmonton: Free to Discover

I have the privilege of compiling a monthly calendar of events for my clients at work, in the hopes of encouraging them to explore and enjoy what the city has to offer. Since undertaking this initiative over a year ago, I must admit to the secondary benefit of becoming quite well-informed about economical and unique happenings in Edmonton. Thus, I am now quite dismayed when I encounter anyone who claims that “There is nothing to do in Edmonton.” At least, nothing related to either West Edmonton Mall or Whyte Avenue nightlife.

September, besides being the time of year that induces groans of children and teens everywhere, will also see the occurrence of four distinct, growing festivals:

  • Only in its second year, and taking place about a month before the better known Lit Fest, the Edmonton Poetry Festival is offering a plethora of events, many free, from readings, to poetry slams to a hip-hop night.
  • Edmonton Fashion Week runs from September 24-28, this year moving its runway shows from the south side Planet Ze Design to the unbridled space of Churchill Square. Besides being great for the current movement towards the publicity and revitalization of the downtown core, it also allows the festival itself increased exposure to new crowds. While the runway shows are not free, the opening night gala, featuring displays and a preview showcase, is open at no cost to the public (though attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable donation to the food bank).
  • The revamped Edmonton International Film Festival starts on September 28. Although it’s a shame the filmed-in-Alberta Assassination of Jesse James isn’t being screened, the matinee documentary series can be seen for $5 a pop.
  • Revitalization of a different sort is being celebrated in the form of the second annual Arts on the Ave Kaleido Festival. Nurturing the artistic in the ill-famed Alberta Avenue district, the festival is hosting a number of free performances and street entertainment (and for those who missed the five-star Fringe favorites Water and Homeless, you’ll get the chance to see them on stage for a bargain $5 a ticket).

I always wonder what it would have been like to grow with the Fringe, now just having finished its twenty-sixth consecutive run. With these four festivals still in their relative stages of infancy, perhaps one day you can look back and know that you were there for the beginning.

Other notable free activities during the month of September:

  • City Farm, which aims to expose the public to cultivation and animal care techniques, is holding its Harvest Festival on September 15. Admission by donation.
  • Free admission week at Kinsmen Sports Centre runs from September 22-30.
  • Two fun, cheeky exhibits at the Art Gallery of Alberta, including pieces by Andy Warhol start later this month. Admission into the temporary space at Enterprise Square is free from 4-8pm on Thursdays.
  • The City of Edmonton’s celebration of recreation, Free Admission Day, offers no cost entry to all city-owned facilities on September 30, including the perennially-popular and family-friendly Fort Edmonton Park, Valley Zoo, and Muttart Conservatory, as well as recreation centres and arenas.