WORDS: TAYLOR BASSO
If you're wandering the streets of Wolfville in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley on Culture Days weekend and you come across a swarm of drummers, dancers, and ten-foot-tall giants, don't be alarmed. You've just crossed paths with the Fresh Beats Rhythm Parade, which roams Wolfville September 29 at noon as part of the Deep Roots Music Festival. And you're invited to join the party!
An enchanting blend of culture, crafts, and local music, the annual Deep Roots Music Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary September 27-30. The product of 175 devoted volunteers, the festival features indoor musical performances, late night dance parties, numerous free workshops, and a Sunday morning "Rise Up Singing" event, which collects donations every year for the local food bank. The heart of the festival? The Fresh Beats Rhythm Parade.
"This is the festival's 15th anniversary, and the parade has been a staple since the beginning," says Peter Mowat, President of the Deep Roots Music Cooperative, which organizes the event. Prior to the parade, participants can attend free festival workshops to make their own costumes or create homemade musical instruments. One such workshop is hosted by the Wee Giant Theatre, who create the distinctive giant puppets that are a hallmark of the parade. Participants can learn how to operate the puppets, and choose a costume from the theatre company's extensive closet to wear in the parade. In another workshop, if you want to embrace this year's Culture Days theme and get #OnBeat, you can use a variety of materials to build your own customized shakers or percussion instruments.
Then, at the stroke of noon, anyone is welcome to march along as the parade takes to the streets. "No matter what year, there are always highlights as young and old join in," enthuses Mowat. "In fact, we are at a point where children who started as young participants are now grown up and joining. We have had participants ranging in age from less than a year, to elders who are young at heart. It is designed for anyone who loves to have fun, and especially for those who love to dress up and make music." The parade has attracted familiar faces and new smiles alike, leading to some memorable moments: "Last year for the first time, we had a group of refugee children from Syria come and march in the parade. The excitement on their faces was truly inspiring."
So bring along your kids, your co-workers, and anyone else who wants to soak up some culture, rub elbows with giants, and lay down some fresh beats at the Deep Roots Music Festival. After all, says Mowat, shared cultural events "allow people to come together for joyous reasons, and to share in activities that make them feel good. It helps to balance their lives, and provides them with a chance to put aside their day-to-day stresses."
And, if the event's Culture Days activity page is to be believed, don't worry about bringing along an umbrella. After all: "It never rains on our parade."
Photos credits (in order of appearance): Anne S.; Bruce Dienes; Bruce Dienes
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