Artfest at the Distillery ~ Toronto


by Festival Nomad "Scoop" Correspondent, Judi McWilliams

Driving into Downtown Toronto looks likes an explosion of massive concrete buildings popping up everywhere! Choosing to drive into the City just after the morning rush hour was a wise choice. Touch wood (somewhere), we arrived at the Harbourfront in record time. With the Festival Nomads patience, and luck, we found a great parking spot, right near the entrance of Artfest at the Distillery. Artfest, both in Kingston and Toronto, is one of the best open-aired, free juried art shows we have seen in a long time. The organizer and show producer, Lory MacDonald, has the knack of attracting the elite of the elite, with quality, variety and yet affordable artisan and art items for all.

There was no doubt we had arrived at the right location as rows of white tents and lots of signs welcomed us. The cobblestone walkways made the ambiance more intriguing. In amongst the Artfest tents lay unique shops, cafes, boutiques, flower pots and gardens. High above were connecting ducts painted green, running between the red brick buildings. The architecture and historical aspect of this part of Toronto was very interesting.

We were on a mission to find Lory, to let her know we had made it down. True to form, Lory welcomed us warmly. Unfortunately she was laid up with a cast on her foot, but that did not deter her from giving us a wonderful opportunity to “walk” the show with her.

Lory introduced us to many of the artists and artisans. The quality and variety that these talented artists produce is by far “top notch”! Celebrating summer in Toronto and the arts, 65 artists & artisans, from across Canada, gathered at the Historic Distillery District for three days only. These artists and artisans offered hand-made Canadian pottery, glass, leather, jewelry, gourmet food, textiles paintings, live music and more. They were eager to share some of their techniques and describe the makings of their treasures. Various spots along the way provided us with entertaining and enjoyable music. High quality food vendors also display, demonstrate and share their produce at Artfest. One of the vendors recognized our Ontario Festival hats and commentated that she knew about us! Surprised, we asked how she knew us. She told us that she subscribed to our monthly newsletter and that she read them faithfully!

On our travels throughout Ontario this past summer, we were often  approached by event participants and vendors, who recognized our Ontario Visited hats and shirts. They also mentioned they enjoy reading both “THE INSIDER”, our monthly newsletter, and my “THE INSIDE SCOOP” Blog. Again, I was skeptical, thinking that these folks were just being friendly. It turned out that many could quoted statements from my “SCOOP” articles! It's a wonderful feeling to be recognized and appreciated!

After the grand tour, we left Lory and made our way down a side laneway. Here we found a unique open-aired market. At one of the shops we purchased and hungrily  enjoyed grilled bacon and cheese sandwiches and sweet baked treats, all at a reasonable cost. With newly acquired artistic inspiration in my sole, we drove off, just in time to pop out of Toronto before the evening rush hour began.