notre jeunesse !
by Isabel Mosseler
It was a hot weekend, somewhat threatened by forest fires 12 km away, but even with a strict fire ban in place the River & Sky Camping & Music Festival (R&S) in Field was a wonderfully eclectic event with music, food, vendors, swimming, night sky-watching, art experiences and more. There were adults, children, old hippies and young hipsters, and dogs, friendly lazy old dogs and rambunctious puppies. The grounds were kept clean and safe, with a focus on environment – the food vendors used tin plates, and volunteers kept them washed. The performances were all over the map, emerging artists for the most part, tweaking the musical spectrum. Some hit, some missed, but most scored with a very easy crowd willing to be engaged by something new, opening ears to different sounds, some very experimental.
The event took place over four days, July 19-22, at Fisher’s Paradise. It was the 10th annual festival for organizers Peter Zwarich and Lara Bradley who have nursed this event into something that has morphed into a life of its own. In his welcome address, Zwarich noted, “Over the R&S weekend, we get to live a somewhat more ideal and idyllic life and escape the ‘grind.’ Shake off all that sullies your soul and your spirit—dance, sauna, swim and smile it away —fill yourself with a good bunch of peace, love, happiness and fresh country air.”
The mission of this festival is to “present regional, national and international emerging indie, folk and roots music while showcasing a community-based, simple and sustainable way of life. …Music makes us happy and we want to bring it into all aspects of our work and play.” The festival drew primarily people from outside of West Nipissing, people from Sudbury and North Bay, Toronto and Ottawa, and also out-of-province. But more local people are participating in this event.
Mique Michelle, a well-known graffiti artist from Field, created a large-scale art piece collaborating with many children and adults, ending up with four large panels of inspired art. There were also artists from Sudbury, Nipissing, North Bay and Toronto. Trees were festooned with hoops and picture frames, crocheted sleeves, lights, webs and giant bird nests, so that whichever path one walked there were little surprises. There were slack lines for people to try their balancing skills, fishing by canoe, yoga on the grass, and looking at star clusters and nebulae with the North Bay Astronomy Club. There was paddle-boarding, bicycle fixing workshops, groove dancing, bread making, and booth after booth of crafters with everything from ceramics to sweaters to handmade instruments. The food ranged from Big Foot’s fried bread and Indian tacos to vegan options and cob-oven cooked pizza. And then there was the music – both at the beach stage and the main stage. Over the four days, there were 36 different performances.
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