The north core may feel a little strange to anyone who wanders into the downtown area Saturday night.
The streets will be bustling with people dressed in costume travelling from venue to venue for Definitely Superior's massive Halloween event The Hunger 8.
Eight years ago, the Hunger saw 750 people pack into two bars downtown. Last year, almost five times that number came out to fill seven venues.
This year gallery director David Karasiewicz said they're expecting 4,000 people to come see the 52 performance acts taking the stages at The Foundry, The Sovereign Room, Gargoyles, A Little to the Left, Black Pirates Pub, Crocks and Hell.
With everyone moving from venue to venue, the streets are busy and there's an excitement in the air, said Karasiewicz.
"It's like being in a very large city. It's like going to Toronto at some really huge event and people are all over the streets. It's pretty surreal.”
The growth of the Hunger is directly tied with the growth of the downtown area, he added.
The more bars that have opened up shop mean more opportunities for local artists to perform and the city has seen the local music scene grow exponentially in the last decade.
"It's kind of exploded," said Karasiewicz. "We could not have done this 10 years ago; there just wouldn't be enough acts."
The boom in the local musicians can be credited to the affordability of living in a city like Thunder Bay as well as the relatively low recording studio costs, said Karasiewicz.
"It's been a good growth and I think it's just growing organically, hand-in-hand. Everything is being provide for; it's that whole nurturing environment," he said.
The Hunger is not only a showcase of local talent, but it helps downtown venues by bringing in new people, particularly university and college students from out-of-town.
The Foundry owner Dane Newbold said The Hunger is one of the city's best events with all the bars getting involved enforcing the pub crawl idea.
"These kinds of events are probably the best thing for Thunder Bay's downtown," he said, adding Saturday is about getting a feel for everything the area has to offer.
"That's great cross-promotion and it shows a real sense of camaraderie and working together amongst the bar owners, so I think that's really positive, especially moving forward in this entertainment district we have going," Newbold said.
Waterfront District BIA vice-chairman Jim Comuzzi agreed the Hunger helps build community in the area just like bigger events such as Rib Fest and Blues Fest.
Definitely Superior has been a great advocate for the north-side downtown and Comuzzi said the Hunger has brought another facet to the downtown core.
"If you've ever been a part of it, the amount of new people that come down into our BIA is exceptional and it's the art world meeting with the urban world and it's a great event for the downtown," he said.
The Hunger starts at 8 p.m. Saturday; $10 to get into all seven venues. The performance schedule can be found online.
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