Stewart Park Festival


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Beautiful Historic Perth

Perth is one of the prettiest towns in Ontario and is known for its great festivals and events. We were in Perth a few years ago for the Festivals of Maples and now we are back to visit the Stewart Park Festival. This is a free three day music festival that consists of onstage performances. There are a number of arts and crafts booths including artists, soap makers, jewelry and more. During the festival a number of workshops take place, such as Reiki in the Park, Dance Fusion, and Yoga. This is the Stewart Park Festival's 20th Anniversary and takes place in Perth’s sensational Stewart Park! We arrived in Perth after visiting Smith Falls' Canal, Railway and Chocolate Festival. Perth as we have written before is a scenic historic town with wonderful stone buildings. Stewart Park lies just west of the Town Hall and is divided by the winding Tay River. The downtown area was very crowed when we arrived in Perth so finding a parking spot was a bit of a challenge.

At Stewart Park...

After parking the car we walked back to the main festival entrance and passed through the gates. We were welcomed by the volunteers who were wearing colourful festival T-shirts. The first thing we saw as we entered the festival grounds was a large crowd sitting in front of the main performance stage. This was a great introduction to a fabulous event! We walked to the area to find that Jadea Kelly had just finished her performance and Caracol, (Carole Facal) was warming up. Since there was a lull in the music we decided to take a look at the vendors area. Everything from beautiful glass hand made jewelry, to fine art, to Reiki massages were being offered. Of course, there were wonderful choices of food for the entire family. During this time we also introduced ourselves to Heather Hansgen, the producer of the Stewart Park Festival. Heather told us that this was a free 3 day festival that attracted approximately 25,000 visitors over the weekend. After we had spoken to Heather, we went back in front of the stage area and joined the crowd who were enjoying the music of Caracol! The audience was very appreciative of her performance.

Moving On...

From the main stage we walked towards the rivers edge. Along the way we noticed a “Kids” play tent set up. This was an area where parents could allow their children to play while they listened to the music on the main stage. Once we were at the river and about to cross the bridge over the river, we noticed several children swimming and splashing in the water. There was a small rapid that flowed under the bridge, The kids were allowing themselves to get caught up in the current and to be swept along with it. It looked like a great deal of “cool” fun, especially on such a hot day! Judi wanted to "wade through the water", I wanted to “walk on it”, we decided to walk “over it”, via the bridge. On the west side of the Tay River another stage, the Wendy Laut River Stage, had been set-up. On stage several musicians were discussing their techniques to the audience. The performer who was speaking, when we were there, was a Flamenco guitarist and he was telling the audience about rhythm, clapping and beats. Once he finished talking he then began to play along with the rest of the musicians. He was accompanied by a wonderful vocalist. a combination that mesmerized us all! We listened for quite some time and then walked towards the workshop area.

The Rest of the Stewart Park Festival...

The festival had scheduled a number of workshops for festival attendees including Dance Fusion, Tai Chi and Waterfront Yoga. To get there we once again we had to cross over the scenic Tay River. It was wonderful to see how many people were enjoying the coolness of the water. Walking through Stewart Park is a wonderful experience, one that I feel everyone should experience. This park is beautifully maintained with numerous gardens and shade trees. Judi and I plan on coming back to Perth, soon, just to enjoy the park. The Stewart Park Festival was a wonderful a surprise. It was obviously well organized and well attended. CBC Radio was even on hand to record two of the performances for one of its evening radio show. This is an event definitely worth attending and a town worth visiting!