It was a fantastic night for community in Nelson’s downtown last Friday. The streets were buzzing as hundreds came out on a perfect summer evening to check out the ArtWalk kick off.
These types of events and gatherings help define what small town life in the Kootenays is all about. Celebrating local talent, breathing in the mountain air and connecting with each other.
Our front page story in today’s paper is about an upcoming gathering in Crawford Bay. Starbelly Jam brings together musicians from near and far for a weekend of great entertainment. The festival grows every year and is one of the highlights of the East Shore summer.
Later this summer there will the Kaslo Jazz Etc. festival, UnityFest in Winlaw and Shambhala near Salmo. Mixed in there are two more MarketFest events in Nelson’s downtown.
All of these are feel-good events that provide locals and visitors highlight outings to remember. They also provide economic stimulus at a time when every penny counts.
Though the calendar is packed, there is always room for more. And what this community really needs is a family friendly event that appeals to all ages and tastes. Something along the lines of StreetFest that was wildly successful a decade ago and jammed the downtown in July. The international street performers festival was a weekend of entertainment that provided something for everyone.
A festival of that size and scope took a tremendous amount of volunteer effort and financial resources to pull off. That is part of the reason why it doesn’t continue today. But since it ended a few years back, there has been a void in our summer. That hole must be filled.
StreetFest was born out of controversy in the late-1990s when downtown business owners were upset about the direction the core was headed. That period spawned bylaws like the downtown dog ban and the elimination of hackey sacks on sidewalks. StreetFest, however, managed to turn a negative into a positive.
We don’t need controversy this time around. What we need is people to step forward with a vision and enthusiasm to add another major event on our summer calendar.