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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 16:35

Arts and culture festival planned for Alberta Arts Days

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By Susan Quinlan
Fort Macleod
Fort Macleod has been selected by Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, as one of five feature celebration sites hosting events during Alberta Arts Days festivities, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.


“Art is alive and well in Fort Macleod. Everyone should check it out because you’ll have a wonderful time with lots to see and do. Bring the entire family … There’s something for everyone to see and do,” said Maria Rishea, president of the Fort Macleod Allied Arts Council who partnered

with the Empress Theatre and Fort Museum in preparing the submission which led to receiving $20,000 to cover all related expenses.

“The three of us got together. Since we do have such an artsy town, we thought it best we collaborate. We had several meetings to create the budget, because all the activities have to be free ... Everyone is welcome to come; it’s not just for Fort Macleod. It’s free and family friendly.”

In a recent press release, Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett said, “Alberta Arts Days is about family, community, diversity and cultural vibrancy. It’s a celebration of everything great about this province. The support and participation of all communities, governments, businesses, organizations and individuals is required to truly showcase Alberta’s creative spirit.

“We’re hoping the leadership shown by the celebration sites

will inspire even more Albertans

to get involved. Some amazing relationships have developed from the partnerships that were formed in previous years.”

Blackett will be on hand during activities in the five communities selected as feature celebration sites.

“It feels pretty good to have Lindsay coming. I know he loves the Empress (theatre) and he loves doing the job he’s doing. It’ll be really exciting,” said Rishea.

Activities in Fort Macleod will be in keeping with the old-time theme. Risea called it “A Step Back to 1874.”

Events begin Sept. 30 with a downtown art-walk that incorporates a scavenger hunt involving local artists’ displays. Rishea explained the scavenger hunt will have visitors collecting artists’ autographs.

At noon, The Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police will start their celebration with a re-enactment of an 1874 meeting between Colonel James Macleod, Blackfoot Chief Crowfoot and scout Jerry Potts, before providing demonstrations by blacksmiths, quilters and other craftspeople. Those demonstrations will continue throughout the weekend.

At 2 p.m., there is a free screening of the classic western movie, The Lone Ranger, starring Roy Rogers, at the Empress Theatre or listen to live music from

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Main Street.

Friday’s events wrap up with a square dance and hoe down at the community hall. Be warned: those not wearing western attire, may find themselves doing time in an old western jailhouse.

On Saturday, a Hutterite breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. at the North West Mounted Police Barracks provincial historic site, with site tours and mini dramas played out by professional actors.

From noon to 5 p.m., free activities will be provided on Main Street and will include black powder demonstrations and an old western shootout between whisky traders.

A free shuttle bus, leaving from the parking lot behind the Empress Theatre, will take people to

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump to learn about local First Nations’ history and culture.

At 7 p.m., the Empress Theatre will host a main stage event featuring can-can dancers, theatre performances, First Nations dancing and much more.

On Sunday, The North West Mounted Police Barracks site will once again host various activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The events will centre on an old-fashioned family picnic, with people encouraged to bring their own picnic basket lunch.

Forty-nine Alberta communities have planned events for Alberta Arts Days, receiving a total of $375,000 from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit to fund those community events.

In addition to the Fort Macleod Allied Arts Council, the Creative Airdrie Society, Calgary Public Libraries, Blue Quills First Nations College (St. Paul) and Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County were chosen as celebration sites, where three days of activities are planned. The remaining 44 communities will sponsor two days of arts and culture events.

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