On Thursday, July 14, Ottawa’s Arboretum Festival announced detailed plans of a new festival village hidden behind Ottawa’s City Hall. The fest’s fifth edition, led by directors Stéfanie Power and Rolf Klausener, will host a party hub in partnership with Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company and the Ottawa Food Bank from August 19 to 20.
During the annual August festival, the Arboretum team brings together artists and artisans from every walk of life. Culture-seekers get to explore what the city has to offer in many different artistic mediums — from musical to visual and artisanal to edible. As Power put it, “Some of the most creative people we know are chefs.”
And what’s more, anyone who comes to the Festival Village to fill their belly will be helping to feed others by paying the $10 admission.
“The entry fees are essentially a fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank,” said Klausener. This donation will help to cover what is easily the city’s heftiest grocery bill. Every summer the Food Bank grows just over 100,000 pounds of vegetables at Stittsville’s Black Family Farm and counts on another 20,000 pounds in purchased produce.
“It comes at a time when the Ottawa Food Bank needs it most,” said Rachael Wilson, the OFB’s director of communications and development. “This summer, we’ll spend about $250,000 on produce as well as $90,000 on local beef.”
In 2011, Arboretum began in and around the Ottawa Jail Hostel, but has since uprooted its festival grounds four times in the last five years. Power, as the festival’s managing director, has organized each year’s ambitious relocation and oversaw last year’s festivities on Albert Island, near Chaudière Bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau.
This year’s festival will host shows in 11 venues throughout Ottawa and Gatineau, as well as on the parcel of land known as Lisgar Field, the modest lawn behind City Hall flanked by maple and honey locust trees. This space will fit not one but two Arboretum villages: one for the concerts and another for the food, drink, and chats. Daily admission to the Concert Village, accessible through the Festival Village, will be $25 unless one has an All-Access/All-Week pass.
The main gates will draw visitors past a Kids Art Tent hosted by the Ottawa Art Gallery, as well as past other booths including the Beau’s Summer in the City Beer Garden. Best described as a smorgasbord of local flavour, the Garden will feature a wide range of food carts and brick-and-mortar eateries like Little Jo Berry’s, Merry Dairy, and Gongfu Bao. A City Night Bazaar where visitors can peruse wares from several dozen local vendors, including Victoire, Blumenstudio, and Black Coffee Apparel. Revellers can then visit the Commons Charging + Talks Lounge or Exclaim!’s pop up tent to see talks on sustainable farming and food security or hear chats with featured artists.
As Klausener explained, the festival village will be ideal for those who don’t necessarily want to see a packed line-up of concerts but want to come and hang. Anyone who wants to have a drink, hear a talk, and help fill some empty bellies will find themselves at home in the locavore village.
Arboretum Festival runs from Aug. 17 to 21, with its Festival Village coming to life on the Friday and Saturday. Tickets and passes can be purchased here.