Live From the Rock: Red Rock Folk Festival can count another stellar year in the books as over 2250 attendees descended on the festival grounds this past weekend for a lineup of almost 40 acts. In its 14th annual event, the festival drew hundreds of campers to the shore of Lake Superior for main stage acts, workshop shows, and campfire singalong. The festival has a great reputation and continues to grow every year since its iteration.
According to TB Newswatch, over 2000 people showed up for music and festivities on Saturday alone. The crowd themselves reportedly kept the folk spirit going even after performers left the stage with campfire sing-alongs at night and impromptu jamming sessions before the gates opened on Sunday.
While well-loved acts like Jean Paul DeRoover, The Moonshiners, Rodney Brown, and Shy Anne Horvoka drew crowds to the stage, many people also watched all the acts perform workshop sessions, where several artists sit in for communal sessions on the same stage and jam together to create unique music never heard before, and not heard again.
Kathy Chappell of the Chronicle Journal noted that Steve Poltz was a particular force during the workshop sessions: “Poltz had the audience captivated with his unique and at times eccentric of entertaining bringing the crowd to their feet. Some of his antics throughout the day had musicians in a workshop performing on their backs.”
Poltz wasn’t the only artist with interactive techniques. The Journal also reported that Madeline Roger and Raine Hamilton engaged festival attendees to help them write a song that honoured the festival’s theme: Stoked for Folk. The resulting tune was performed during closing ceremonies alongside other longtime favourites and traditional closing songs.
Over 200 volunteers committed themselves to this year’s event, and the board of directors have planned next year’s festival for August 11-13th.
If you’re still seeking North Shore music festival vibes, take a trip over the border to Duluth this weekend for the Bayfront Blues Festival. This year’s major headliners are John Mayall, Southern Hospitality, and War. In addition to full-day lineups of great blues acts, the festival is offering late night dance parties so revellers can keep the party going. For information on schedules, ticket prices, and more, click here.
On Friday July 29th, the InfoSuperior Team trekked from Thunder Bay, ON to Nipigon, ON to attend the Celebrate Nipigon Festival. This year’s festival was an amalgamation of three different annual events – the Paddle to the Sea Jubilee, Blueberry Blast, and artESCAPE. We managed to make it for the Paddle to the Sea Jubilee.
This year’s Paddle to the Sea Jubilee marked 75 years of the beloved children’s book, now celebrated with an annual festival and an ever-expanding park of the same name. This year, Nipigon was proud to
present its latest installation for the Paddle to the Sea Park – a splash pad. The splash pad had been a part of the park plans since approximately 2011-2012, and received funding in early 2016.
At noon, local and provincial dignitaries from the Trillium Foundation, Canada 150, and city council gathered to unveil the splash pad. After a few short speeches and a ribbon-cutting, MP Michael Gravelle invited three-year-old AJ Nayanookeesic to the splash-pad. Nayanookeesic participated in a contest where children draw pictures of the splash pad, and his name was drawn to give the button its inaugural push to start the splash pad’s festivities. When Nayanookeesic hit the button, children flooded the splash pad to cool off in 30 degree heat.
Next to the town hall, all of Third Street was closed off for vendors, information, and activity booths to celebrate. The day featured artisan craft sellers, food vendors, origami, carnival games and children’s activities, a yoga demonstration by Dawn Conci, free cake, and summer tunes on the stereo system.
We were happy to set up shop and chat with locals about the North Shore Remedial Action Plan and their environmental concerns. Thanks to the township of Nipigon for the festivities, and thanks if you stopped by to say hello!
For more coverage on Celebrate Nipigon:
On July 15-17, the Red Rock Indian Band held their annual Opwaaganisiniing Traditional Gathering on the shores of Lake Helen, just upstream from Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior. Taking place on the third weekend every July, the pow wow includes food, craft vendors, drumming, and ceremonial dance. A hand-drum contest was held Saturday evening during the supper break.
This year, the host drum were the Whitefish Bay Singers, co-hosted by the Heron Bay Singers and Little Feather Singers. Todd Genno presided as MC, and Aaron Therreault served as spiritual advisor for the event. The head dancers were listed as Doug Turner and Mary Magiskan.
InfoSuperior’s Jim Bailey attended the pow wow at Lake Helen Reserve on Saturday, July 16 to view dancing and drumming in the afternoon. The InfoSuperior team would like to congratulate RRIB on their 26th year of celebrating culture, ceremony, and tradition in this wonderful event.
From July 14-17, hundreds are expected to gather at Ojibway Park in Garden River First Nation, ON for the Great Lakes Gathering. The event is a gathering inviting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to discuss and collaborate on ideas to protect watersheds in the Great Lakes basin.
Garden River First Nation is located along the St. Mary’s River, and the gathering at Ojibway Park will be held on the shores of Lake Huron. An open invitation was issued on Feb 18 for “all Anishinaabeg, Metis and supporters to come to the shores of Lake Huron to meet, discuss, and hold ceremony together for the waters of the Great Lakes and for future generations.”
According to SaultOnline, issues discussed at the gathering will include “nuclear waste burial at the Kincardine site, the aging Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Makinac, and Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s proposed sites for a deep geological depository site along the north shore of Lake Huron,” in addition to “the health and well being of the Great Lakes, as well as their value and import for Indigenous nations in the Great Lakes region.”
The open invitation promised a variety of cultural activities, including a sacred fire, water offerings, an Elders Council meeting, traditional healing, a ceremonial lacrosse game, storytelling, and Anishinaabemowin immersion.
Currently, there are three canoe teams headed toward the event, including a group of women from Wahnapitae First Nations who dub their passage the Water Keepers Journey. CBC reported that paddlers set out from Wahnapitae Lake near Sudbury on June 26, and are expected to paddle 458km for 19 days to reach Sault Ste. Marie. Their ultimate destination is the Great Lakes Gathering, and they’ll be travelling 20-30 km per day.
CBC reported that two of the women on the trip would make the entire journey: Stephanie Recollet and Josie Langelier. The other paddlers will join them at stops along the way. To keep up with the Water Keepers Journey, click here.
If you’re in the area, participate in the Great Lakes Gathering and demonstrate productive, respectful support for its causes July 14-17.
For the last 24 years, a growing number of Minnesota veterans and charter boat captains have kept the last Monday in June open for an annual fishing trip on Lake Superior in Silver Bay, MN. The event was started by combat veteran and Lake Superior charter boat captain Jim Latvala, who wanted a way to thank disabled vets for their service. The volunteer coordinator at the time suggested he take a vet fishing. Latvala called up his fellow charter boat captains and set his sights on a bigger event, and a tradition was born.
Event participation has swelled since, and the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that this year 60 vets on 17 boats were scheduled for the June 27 event. Northland News Center reported that 49 vets from the Silver Bay Veterans home attended. The remainder of the participants were to come from Hastings, Minneapolis, and Fergus Falls veteran homes.
The Pioneer Press observed that the event is a complex operation, including the vets, the ship captains, and VA personnel to aid with mobility, safety, and medicinal requirements. This year, a small crane bolted to the marina’s gasoline dock helped hoist a wheelchair user and his wheelchair aboard a vessel. The charter boat captains come from communities along the shore from Duluth to Grand Marais.
Latvala explained to the Pioneer Press that it’s become easy to coordinate the annual day of the event among the ship captains. “That first year, the other captains had been skeptical. Giving up a day is giving up a day. Our season is only a few months and a lot of us book every day. It’s a long trip from Duluth, and gas is expensive. But after we were done, all of us saw how much the guys (vets) loved it. The other captains came up right away and started asking, ‘Which day next year, so I can keep it clear?’ Last Monday in June.”
The vets wake at 3:30am, attend the Knife River Marina by 5:30am, and fish until 11am. They then return to the shore to have a fish fry with the catch – this year they brought in more than 50 lake trout and salmon, in addition to 16 pounds of walleye filet donated by Pike for Vets from Grand Rapids, according to the Northland News Center. Their biggest catch was in 2013, at a whopping 154 fish.
The event is well-received by the vets, and eagerly anticipated by the vets every year, a fact Latvala is very satisfied with.
He told the Pioneer Press: “For a long time, I kept thinking we’d do this 15 years and that’ll be it. But now I know it’s never going to go away, and I’m damned proud of that. We’ve got young captains getting involved. When I can’t do it anymore, they’re gonna lift me into one them charter boats. And one of those young captains will take me fishing.”
An ambitious, large-scale art installation taking place this week in Toronto, ON, is aiming to beautify urban spaces while drawing attention to the challenges faced by the Great Lakes. Part of a larger series of programs called Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, the Toronto installation will constitute the first freshwater edition of the project.
Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans is sponsored by the PangeaSeed Foundation, and is beginning to collect teams of international artists to complete the mural projects in various locations around the world. The inaugural installation was completed in Napier, New Zealand. The project team had the opportunity to visit local marine ecosystems, learn about the environmental challenges they face from experts, and in turn facilitate educational workshops to teach youth about these issues.
The artists spent time in Napier from March 10-21, and “within the span of 5 days, 35 large-scale public murals were realized throughout Cozumel’s town center, addressing pressing marine environmental issues such as shark finning, overfishing, coastal development, climate change, and coral reef conservation.” The idea behind the murals was to raise awareness among locals and tourists alike about the effects these issues are having on native marine species and ecosystems.
The PangeaSeed Sea Wall project dubs itself ‘artivism’ (and its team members ‘artivists’), believing the project to be as much an educational process as it is an aesthetic one. “We believe that art, design and new media can transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries inspiring positive global change. PangeaSeed collaborates with today’s most influential creative minds to help give the oceans the voice they so desperately need.” To date, the Sea Wall project boasts a team of 300 artivists from 30 countries.
Currently, the artivists have convened in Toronto to complete the second Sea Wall project from June 20-25. They’re hoping their installations “[celebrate] the majesty of the Great Lakes” while “[stimulating] a broader public awareness of the critical issues facing this breath-taking and unique natural resource, containing a staggering 95% of North America’s surface freshwater.”
Seventeen murals are being done by 20 artivists at Queen/Ossington, Queen/Spadina, and the mouth of the Don River. The project team is hoping to draw attention to six major Great Lakes issues (a fitting choice, for a city which now dubs itself ‘The Six’!). They’re listed as disappearing native species; non-point source pollution (i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, oil, grease, salt, sediment); invasive species; atmospheric pollution; polluted beaches; and point-source pollution (effluent from industrial operations).
The murals are due to be completed by tomorrow, June 25. If you’re around in Toronto today, a bike ride will take place from 3 pm to 5pm to tour the murals as they near completion, ending up at the Amsterdam Brew House. If you miss the bike ride, a party will be held at the Amsterdam Brew House to wind up the week and celebrate with the team members. For details, click here.
If you’re not in Toronto this weekend, be sure to visit the murals when you’re in the city. Until the final murals are revealed, sneak peeks of the artistic process can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
On June 9th, Samuel Pegg of the InfoSuperior Team got a chance to catch up with the members of the Our Shores Run, who were passing through Thunder Bay and had scheduled a day of rest in town. Evan, Allissa, and Andy are circumnavigating Lake Superior on foot to collect water samples and raise awareness for microplastics research, and “for love of the lake.”
Starting in Ashland, WI, the runners have been on the road since May 20. Though the runners are preparing themselves for the long haul on their three month journey, they say that their bodies are starting to adjust to the grueling conditions and physical demand of the run.
So far, the runners have collected two samples on their journey, around Duluth and Grand Marais (both Minnesota), and said they would be collecting another in Thunder Bay before they set off. They’re looking to collect a mix of urban and rural lake samples to gauge population impact on the water. Their next samples will mostly be all rural, as they will not reach another major city centre on the North Shore until they hit Sault Ste. Marie.
For their interviews, the runners are aiming to speak with a large cross-section of society, everyone from farmers to academics to young entrepreneurs. They’re hoping to ask what brought people to the shores of Lake Superior, what their connection to the lake means to them, and what challenges they face as inhabitants of the Great Lakes Basin.
For their own challenges on the run, the runners laughed and told Sam they find themselves end their daily runs with a gigantic hill – “some cosmic coincidence” that just seems to happen as a result of their route planning. Allissa noted that the best part of running the hills is that they’ve been treated to stellar views of Superior from the top. She also noted that they’ve tried to stay as close to the lake as possible, but that the roads can stray from the shoreline so they will sometimes go days without seeing water.
To hear the whole podcast, clocking in just over 6 minutes, click ‘play’ on the link above. To read the runners’ blog detailing their experiences on the road, click here. And if you see these three pushing a stroller down the highway, cheer them on!
Have you ever seen a Spanish galleon, viking ship, or giant rubber duck gracing Lake Superior waters? If the answer is no, you’ll get your chance at Tall Ships Duluth this summer. (We haven’t seen them either, for the record. Yet.)
Produced by Draw Events, Tall Ships Duluth celebrates just that – tall sailing vessels which come to Duluth harbour for a weekend so that festival attendees can explore and take rides on them. This year, Tall Ships Duluth will run from August 18-21, 2016, and promises to be the largest event in the festival’s history. According to the festival’s website, “Duluth will be one of only a handful of Great Lakes ports that will host the prestigious Tall Ships Challenge and is the only destination on Lake Superior.”
The event boasts that nine ships will visit, ranging from replica Spanish galleon and viking ships to re-creations of 19th century Great Lakes three-mast schooners. As part of the Tall Ships Challenge, the ships participate in a race around the Great Lakes, stopping in several Great Lakes ports along the way. The stops are listed as Brockville, ON; Toronto, ON; Erie, PA; Fairport Harbor, OH; various ports; Bay City, MI; Chicago, IL; Green Bay, WI; and Duluth, MN. According to their website, the races will held from July 1 until mid-September. While nine ships are advertised on the Tall Ships Duluth website, they caution that not all ships may make it for the event. Through MarineTraffic.com, they offer a real-time mapping tool which allows you to track the ships as they cross the Great Lakes.
Every year, the Tall Ships Challenge is held in a different part of the world. Last years’ challenge was held on the Atlantic Coast; it has been two years since the challenge has been held in the Great Lakes. Festival gates open at noon on August 18th, and the Parade of Sail is slated for 2pm the same day. Opening ceremonies will be at 4pm on August 18th.
To compliment the tall ship line-up, the event will host an entertainment line-up, food and drink, and “The Big Duck”: the world’s largest rubber duck, making its first appearance in Duluth. The attraction, dubbed “Mama Duck,” is an inflatable and available for viewing, but not for rides. Tickets, festival schedule, and more are available at TallShipsDuluth.com. You can also follow Tall Ships Duluth on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for up-to-date information.
Photo credit: Tall Ships Duluth
Erin Denny and Lexi Bruno are looking to make a statement, and they chose a precedent-setting Superior kayaking adventure to do it.
Starting on June 4, the two University of Minnesota Duluth grads will be setting out from Part Point beach in Duluth, MN to circumnavigate Lake Superior in kayaks. The Duluth News Tribune reports that they’ll be travelling northeast towards Canada, and hope to end up back in Duluth. If they’re successful, they’ll be the first women in documented history to do so.
While two other female paddlers completed the journey in 2011, they were in a canoe, not kayaks.
While the prospect of paddling Superior is a scintillating adventure in and of itself, the long-time paddlers are hoping to make the journey a statement. The best friends worked together as paddle guides with UMD’s Kayaking and Canoe institute in 2013-2014 and encountered some frustrating sexist commentary, despite being qualified and highly-skilled instructors.
You really think you’re going to be able to get that person back into their boat by yourself?” Bruno recalls being asked.
“You can load a trailer?” Denny was questioned.
In response, Bruno and Denny are naming their journey “Making Waves” – a call to women to trust their abilities, pursue adventures, and disrupt limiting stereotypes. While they are completing the journey for themselves, they hope to inspire other women to undertake similar journeys. They’ve presented their idea to women’s groups in Minnesota, and hope to speak about their experience to audiences of local women when they return to Duluth.
While they’re tackling Superior, Bruno and Denny are stocked up on gear and taking safety as the highest priority. They will be able to communicate with loved ones while on the lake by using a GPS device which tracks their location and allows them to send messages when they’re without cell service. They’ve also invested in a strobe light, flare gun, and two-way marine radio in case of emergencies. They told the News Tribune that safety material was their biggest expense.
If you wish to help, they are currently fundraising for their trip at gofundme.com/makewaves.
The paddlers are particularly looking forward to seeing the beauty of Superior’s shore in its various forms. On the North Shore in Canada, they’ll be treated to soaring cliff faces and stretches of forest. Superior’s south side will expose hollowed-out caves and sandy dune beaches.
While they’re exploring, the pair will keep up a tradition of taking headstand photos on their adventures. The pair make their love of yoga known on social media, and it looks like they’ve mastered good core strength!
To keep up with the headstand updates and Superior adventure, follow ‘Make Waves’ on social media. They’re posting updates to their makewavespaddle Twitter feed, makewaves-adventure Instagram account and Make Waves page on Facebook.