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2014-07-26 at 16:23

Street sounds

By Matt Vis,
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THUNDER BAY -- Street corner music isn’t always common in the city. 

Yet a visit this weekend to a popular north side business district will show the talent that is out there.

The second annual Valley Fresh Buskers’ Festival, which is being held in the Bay and Algoma neighbourhood, is bringing entertainers together with members of the public in a street festival.

Kerrie Atkinson, treasurer of the Bay and Algoma Business Association, said the festival makes local music and entertainment more accessible to the average person and gives them a different performing experience.

“There will be the odd busker here and there but (this weekend) we’ve brought them all together,” Atkinson said Saturday morning.

“They’re musicians actually who don’t always play on the street. A lot play in pubs and other kinds of venues and this brings them out right on a level with the public.”

For the musicians the change in venue is quite refreshing.

The outdoor atmosphere is more casual and conducive to performer and audience interaction.

The duo of Sydney McInnis and Farren Tropea were performing in the morning by the corner of Bay Street and Secord Street and they relished the opportunity.

“More often when we play it’s in a secluded setting where this is open and free-spirited. Anyone can come,” Tropea said.

McInnis added the festival is one of their only chances to play in that kind of environment.

Other performers included magicians, dance groups as well as a pair of unicyclists.

The festival includes much more than just the performances. Vendors were selling food, jewellery, art and other items.

Most of the businesses in the area had displays outside their shops to catch passersby and sidewalk shoppers. There was also a wide variety of food vendors.

The festival helps serve as a showcase for the vibrant neighbourhood, which contains an assortment of local, independent businesses.

“It brings more people in and it’s a vibrant neighbourhood but you have to keep reminding people,” Atkinson said.

The presence of the local community is evident throughout the area.

McInnis felt a sense of community amongst everybody involved..

“I think everyone here probably has a common interest. They like shopping local, eating local food and listening to local food,” she said.

“We love supporting local festivals and events and definitely love playing music for people.”

The festival continues Sunday, running from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Bay Street will be closed from Court Street to Secord.

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fastball says:
With the amount of people there, THAT should have been the day that Algoma was closed!! As opposed to the other week - when it was just basically a walk. The shops were open, lots of business being done...good for the neighbourhood economy.
They could do that for one Saturday a month during the summer...that wouldn't bother me a bit.
7/26/2014 4:45:03 PM
Swirly-Q says:
Both events were wonderful successes with great turnout and positive feedback. There's no need to try to pit one against the other. I hope both events continue to run for many years to come (maybe even multiple times a year!).

Good job everyone!
7/27/2014 9:06:38 AM
Surfer79 says:
And funnily enough *lots* of people came out and walked around, enjoyed the (open) stores, grabbed a coffee or explored - without any major road closures!
7/26/2014 8:59:14 PM
djs says:
Thoroughly enjoyed checking out the unique stores in this area. Definitely competition for the waterfront development! Friendly clerks; clean, well kept stores; unique Thunder-made products in some cases even--all adding to the charm of the area. Add in some wonderful food available and one can see that THIS area is being developed with some thought to promoting Thunder Bay, not selling it out from under our feet....
7/27/2014 9:21:37 AM
caesarjbasquitti says:
The "Cultural Square" at the cross roads of Algoma and Bay Streets, including Secord and Court Streets has always been a vibrant community of restaurants, shopping, churches and schools.

The area has always had a wide spectrum of specialty stores, bringing unique products to local citizens without the BIG BOX look and costs.

While City Hall would like to take credit for this area, the reality is that this area owes its attractions to the hard work and dedication of many of the family owned businesses from Maier Hardward, Janzens Pharmacey, Renco Foods, Donato Bakery, Kivela Bakery, The Italian Cultural Centre, The Hoito, Bar Italia, Vi's Restaurant - La Casa Nostra, and more...

Caution directed towards the 'cities' involvement, like the 'bottlenecks' that are creating problems in the area.

The only thing this area needs is a small neighborhood school, so that children can walk to school.

This area, was always a vibrant shopping area, it was also a vibrant living area as well.
7/27/2014 11:53:32 AM
caesarjbasquitti says:
Worked out great this co-operated, and you don't want to block off the mains street like Algoma....most people drive to and from places in this city.
7/27/2014 6:41:00 PM
fastball says:
But it's not as if you need to do a backtrack or take a major detour if they closed Algoma from Cornwall to Pearl.
You can go down Cumberland or Court...or use any parallel street like Secord or Machar to make that little detour around that 1 kilometer stretch.
7/28/2014 9:51:02 AM
Eastender says:
How about that, people come out for a good old open air festival. Businesses notice an increase in business. No event centre needed. And cheap too, you dont need $150.00 tickets to participate, that money just leaves the city with the performers. Now instead of putting up a $100,000,000.00 building and eliminating the bus depot, how about just putting up a tent in the parking lot and just have several open air events throughout the year, people would come out by the busload to participate. A winter carnival would be just one idea. A jazz festival with bands at various restaurant and bars would attract huge crowds. No need to break the bank, and throw an anchor around the citizens necks in the form of huge tax increases, really is there.
All you gotta do is use your imagination, its free!
7/27/2014 10:32:47 PM
fastball says:
And you've obviously used a lot of imagination in that scenario. Tell me, what colour is the sky in your world?
7/30/2014 1:14:48 PM
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