MERA to host multi-disciplinary arts festival

 McDonald’s Corners/Elphin Recreation and Arts (MERA) will host its first multidisciplinary one-day arts festival on June 13th. The MERArtsFest will be an all day event, beginning at 10:00am and running till dusk. The festival will take place in the MERA Schoolhouse at McDonald’s Corners and on the spacious grounds around the building. Admission is free, and the festival is a rain or shine event.

The day’s activities will include a number of workshops and demonstrations by the various arts groups that regularly meet and use the MERA facilities, including the MERA Heritage Weavers, the MERA Pottery group, the fine arts “Arts Circle” and many others. A number of activities for children are planned, including  include clothesline art, willow and wildflower crowns and mega bubbles.

Flying Box Theatre 1
Flying Box Theatre

One of the festival’s highlights will be a puppet-making workshop given by Montreal’s Flying Box Theatre. They make a variety of styles of puppets, tailoring their workshops to each audience, and are looking forward to teaching puppet-making to young and old alike.

Among the Arts Circle’s contributions will be a pair of workshops given by local artist Gloria Lee-Shoebridge, who will demonstrate “Wrap Up Your Art” in the morning (10:30 am) and “Rust Into Art” in the afternoon (1:30 pm). The MERA pottery group will conduct  ongoing hands-on activities, instructing participants to make pottery tea-light holders and other small items. Exhibitions of artwork, pottery, weaving, quilting, knitting, and the work of home-schooled children will be found in the Schoolhouse and on the grounds.

The MERA Schoolhouse has long been a venue for concerts and music events, and music will be a formidable feature of the ArtsFest, beginning at 10:00 am with a build-your-own-ukulele workshop. This is the only part of the festival that requires a fee and pre-registration, as places are limited by the number of materials kits available. The material fee is $25. The kits are normally $75, but the fee has been subsidized by a grant donated by the Perth and District Community Foundation to cover the cost of the workshop.

Music events continue in the afternoon with a “learn to play” the ukulele workshop, led by singer-songwriter Eve Goldberg, followed in the evening by a gala concert. The Flying Box Theatre will present a performance of “Hans Dudeldee and Other Forgotten Fairy Tales.” This show brings to life stories from a newly discovered collection of Bavarian folktales,  with an eclectic mix of puppetry from rod marionettes to cardboard cutouts. Featuring live accordion music, sing-alongs and storytelling, Forgotten Fairy Tales keeps kids and parents entertained while presenting fresh stories that read like the quirky cousins of Snow White or Cinderella. After Sleeping in a basement archive for around 160 years, these tales now grace the portable Flying Box puppet stage with their fantastic adventures.

Other performances in the gala concert will include Eve Goldberg, accordionist Chantale Urbain performing French gypsy tunes, and Australian guitarist and singer-songwriter David Ross MacDonald. MacDonald is a particular favourite with local audiences, having played sold-out shows at MERA three times in the past few years.

David Ross MacDonald
David Ross MacDonald

For more information, or to register for the build-your-own-ukulele workshop, contact the MERA administrator at meraschoolhouse@bell.net. To see the schedule for the MERArtsFest, go towww.meraschoolhouse.org.