Spending the day in the park turned out to be especially colourful and entertaining for several thousands of Edmontonians who came together for the 7th Heart of the City Festival this weekend.
The free-admission event, held in Little Italy’s Giovanni Caboto Park, offered lots of family-friendly activities like face painting and free art workshops.
Local emerging and professional artists like Painting with Ella and Jeff Morris were sharing the stage to provide non-stop entertainment.
Candice McColl attended the festival with her six-year-old son Seth on both days.
“We just popped over and he loved it. We were here for four hours yesterday and he wanted to come back,” McColl said.
Even though she lives close to the park, this was the first time she had heard about the event.
“It’s great to see a lot of people out here in this area,” she said. “The park has had a lot of drug use and drinking, so it’s nice to see that families are back here.”
For the first time, the festival, financed through sponsorships and countless volunteer hours, spanned two days this year. Fifty-six acts and 146 musicians were on stage this time around.
Last year there were nine hours of music; this year that number doubled.
“Every year it’s a bit bigger. There’s more attendance, more energy around it,” said Katrina Bray, chair of the festival. “We found that we were really overwhelmed by interest.
Our mandate is to support the artists of the downtown core, and we found that we didn’t have enough stage time for them all.”
Doubling the size of the festival was a challenge for the organizing committee, she said. But one that was surmountable.
“Two years ago we were too green to run a two-day event,” Bray said. “We weren’t ready for it any earlier, we sort of grow with the festival.”