It is very nice how Beth Latwaitis and I became friends. It turned out that we had the same outlook about the Town and County of Antigonish and we both wanted to find a way to make a contribution to the economic and social development of the community.
We met casually at one the many and very successful musical events at the Dragon Fly Café presented by Suzanne Benoit in late 2013. Beth’s sister, Coline had told me that Beth and I should meet as we share a similar outlook about the greater Antigonish community. Beth lives in the county and I live in the town. We brainstormed and decided to explore developing an event focusing on the already vibrant local arts scene comprising of various mediums in visual arts, artisanal arts with an international and local food component and musical entertainment of various forms. The aim was to introduce new and established artists in an informal format to local residents and their families as well as the summer visiting public.
We wanted to make use of Chisholm Park that is well located, bordered by Antigonish’s Main Street and the Brierly Brook. It has a gazebo that is an ideal platform to present music and dance. Having decided to proceed and organize the 1st Antigonish Art Fair (A.A.F.) in the summer of 2014, we approached the Antigonish Town and County with the concept and received positive responses and support. We also garnered the support of volunteers of all ages and financial support from numerous individuals and businesses from the greater communities. So in late June 2014, the 1st A.A.F. took place, we hoped for a few attendees and helped by a beautiful summer’s eve over 800 persons came out for the fair. It has been growing in artistic participants and attendees ever since.
When Beth and I met we talked about the arts and the very positive community support it receives. We also wanted to make more use of Chishom Park. The Park was named after Beth’s father Colin Chisholm who had been the very successful Mayor of the Town for many years.
Having made the decision to setup the Art Fair we began to make plans and they resulted in the first Antigonish Art Fair in 2014. We expected only a few hundred attendees and helped by excellent weather had 800 or so at the first event. It has been growing ever since.
The current Fair has over 40 artists, a international food section, a kids corner, a under the bridge graffiti painter, a scholarship program for high school students in the arts, a partnership program with the community bus service, a raffle program to raise more money for the artists, professional music groups to play on the same stage as the beginners, a training program for artists on how to sell their work, a significant presence on social media especially Facebook. All this has financial support by many local businesses as well as governments.
By: David Miller