Residents, visitors, and everyone in-between are welcome to participate in this year’s Smoky River Cultural Days: A Celebration of Arts, Culture, and Community.
The three-day event is being held from Sept. 8-10, with a variety of events, workshops, and artistry sure to appeal to all demographics.
Nord-Ouest FM executive director Gisele Bouchard says the radio station hired a summer student, Aaqilah Charron, to organize various projects including Cultural Days.
“We received a $4,000 grant from the Alberta government,” says Bouchard.
“It was a lot less than we expected but we’ve managed to find a few sponsors. We’re also running a 50/50 draw and we’ll have a cash bar on the Friday night to help with some of the costs,” she adds.
The event is affectionately called ‘Journées de la culture de Smoky River Cultural Days’ and will feature artists, performers, artisans, and other aspects of the community that will focus on creativity and a celebration of the arts.
Bouchard explains Cultural Days are a regular occurrence in larger centres across the nation, but are rare in small communities like the Smoky River area.
“This is a great occasion to bring people to Centre Chevaliers,” says Bouchard.
“We know the Société du Centre Communautaire would love for the hall to be used more often for community events. We thought we would bring organizations together to hold an art and performance event right here in the Smoky River area.”
The radio station has partnered with Falher Library, Smoky River Adult Learning, ACFA régionale, Café Nord-Ouest, Smoky River FCSS, Centre Chevaliers and Rural Northern Chicks to host and organize the event.
“We hope this event will help promote the many artisans, artists, authors and performers from our area,” says Bouchard.
“It’s much more about recognizing the talent we have in this area. Instead of always looking further afield for cultural entertainment, we should take the time to appreciate the talented people we have right here,” she adds.
Festivities will start with a Happy Hour Karaoke and barbeque supper on Friday night, sponsored by New Horizon Co-op and East Peace Gas Co-op. As part of the evening, Nord-Ouest FM will commence its season premiere of Les artiste de chez-nous, featuring Magmatix, Rocky Mountain Sound, and the Blues trio Lavoie Ferrée.
Saturday will feature lots of local talent at the Centre Chevaliers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Renelle Ray, Jenna Loewen, Alexanne Fillion, Kendall and Justin Beaudoin, and Manon Mano performing.
There will also be local authors Pierrette Requier and Talena Winters reading excerpts, workshops, a craft market, and treats available at the canteen. The evening will feature a Smoky River Transportation dance fundraiser with Diamond Highway performing. Tickets for the supper can be purchased by phoning FCSS at (780) 837-2220.
“The event is open to everyone, and we made a point of making sure most things are free,” says Bouchard.
“There are workshops for adults and youth, live music, public reading, and a chance to meet two local authors. There’s no charge for Friday evening and we’re keeping the barbeque supper charges to a minimum, with toonie hotdogs and $4 burgers.”
Sunday will feature the Association Canadienne-française de l’Alberta’s annual Corn Shucking event, featuring the Franco-Albertain cover band Dépaysé from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Falher Municipal Campground.
“I think there’s a variety of reasons people will choose to attend this event,” says Bouchard. “They can just do it out of curiosity or they can do for their love of art, of music or just to come browse the craft market.”
Bouchard says the event is an exciting opportunity to shine a light on the talent that is in the region and to celebrate it.
“Both Renelle and Manon Mano have albums out, as does Joël Lavoie, who’s playing on Friday night,” says Bouchard.
“We need to nurture and promote our indie performers as well as our amateurs and up and comers like Magmatix, who won the Chicane Albertaine and performed at the francophone games in Victoria this summer.
We’re also very lucky to have Sasha Laboucan with us on Saturday, who will be performing a few dances for the crowd.”
More information about the available kids’ and adults’ workshops can be found by visiting the event’s Facebook page Journées de la culture de Smoky River Cultural Days or by phoning Aaqilah Charron at (780) 837-2346 or (780) 279-0104.
“It’s a pretty cheap way to get your cultural fix,” says Bouchard.
“You can get a really early start on your Christmas shopping. and you can support the Centre Chevaliers Hall at the same time. It’s a great space for events and the new board is trying hard to change people’s perception of the space. Hosting these kinds of community events is one way to show the community how this space can be utilized and how it can profit the whole community.”
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Aug 30, 2023