BY ANDREA BERNECKAS
In May 2003, the first official Collingwood Days celebration took place at the Safeway parking lot at Tyne and Kingsway. Before then, a group of creative community-minded residents had been putting together yearly events to bring people together in shared experiences.
In 2000, there was Faces of Our Neighbourhood, an initiative that led residents on a parade from Collingwood Neighbourhood House to Slocan Park for a community celebration. Mosaic Madness followed in 2001; and in 2002, residents gathered to celebrate the installation of the Renfrew Totem Pole through Nature Meets Art.
The interest and need for regular community celebrations and gatherings brought about both Collingwood Days Festival and the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, which began September 2003.
After a couple of years at the Safeway location, Collingwood Days Festival moved to the Sir Guy Carleton Elementary school site, where it remained until 2016. After the closure of the school, the festival made the move to its new location at Gaston Park.
Throughout the years, the festival has highlighted the unique stories of Renfrew-Collingwood residents, and over time we have based our festival themes on these stories. We have discovered and showcased the histories of individual community members, the natural environment, artists and performers, local businesses and even our dogs!
What’s new for 2018
This year, we have a particularly fun theme, that of Play and Playfulness – “The quality of being light-hearted or full of fun” – and we invite community members to join in on all sorts of play and games, sports and arts alike, that are being held throughout the community.
Throughout the world there is play. There are schoolyard games, board games, sports and word games. Music, performance and making art can be playful. While we often think of play as something that is only for the young, play is critical to the physical and social well-being of everyone, no matter their age. This wide-ranging theme allows us the space to celebrate ways of playing from around the world.
This year, the festival week begins after the Victoria Day long weekend, on Tuesday, May 22; but you can jump-start playing by joining Family Board Games at Renfrew Library on Sunday, May 20 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.
Among the many different things happening throughout the community are:
- Lego Block Party at the Renfrew VPL (May 23, 3:30–4:30 pm)
- Games Night at the Bamboo Café (May 23, 5–7 pm)
- Mahjong at Renfrew Park Community Centre (May 24, 11 am–1 pm)
- Open Mic Night and Board Games at First Lutheran (May 25, 5:30-9 pm)
- Annual Graham Bruce Carnival (May 25, 4–8 pm)
- Exhibition of art on the theme of play by the students of Dr. George Weir at Collingwood Branch library
- Last but not least, Madam Beespeaker, the artist-in-residence at Renfrew Park Community Centre will be holding a Sketch-a-Palooza at Renfrew Community Centre on Sunday, May 27, 1–3:30 pm
On Saturday, May 26, Gaston Park will be the site of playful activities ranging from live musical performances such as the Wooly Bears Square Dancing, Balkan Shmalkan and Vietnamese Fan Dancers; roving performers such as Lola Loops, Birds on Parade, and Ariel Amara; art and craft making with Still Moon Arts Society and local artists; as well as games led by InterACTIVE volunteers, Tin Can Studio, and other groups.
This is your chance to try out handball, bocce, backgammon, hoops, and juggling; make paper airplanes in the Artisan Village; and enjoy a variety of multicultural foods. We hope you join in the spirit of play!