File photo Fanny Starchild (second from right), with members of her band, is one of the returning performers at this year’s White Rock Sea Festival.

White Rock Sea Fest to play to everybody’s strengths

Emphasis on local entertainment speaks to continued community involvement

If there’s a familiar look to the entertainment and event schedule of this weekend’s White Rock Sea Festival, it’s scarcely accidental, according to city cultural development manager Claire Halpern.

Jim Black did most of the programming for us,” said Halpern, who told Peace Arch News she’s pleased at the emphasis on local entertainers in the latest edition – ranging from Sunday headliners Hawking to such other well known talents as Heather Crawford (Korki the Clown), Fanny Starchild, Madison Bell, Richard Tichelman, Heidi McCurdy, Sarah Jickling and Black himself, as guitarist-leader of his ‘Collective’.

Although this is the first time the city has taken on the organization of the event in its 69-year history – in past years it has always been run by community organizing committees (most recently the White Rock Events Society which bowed out at the conclusion of last years festival – the latest development seems like a natural evolution, Halpern said, one that plays to everybody’s strengths, without bogging down spare-time volunteers in a nightmare of logistics.

“We’ve had lots of the major players come back to help,” she said, also noting the involvement of longtime volunteer organizers Cindy Poppy and Maureen Beales in creating this year’s Sunday night torchlight parade, and Crawford in organizing the Pirates in the Park event.

“We’ve been lucky to have people like this come back – they have so much knowledge of the event,” she said. “And in many ways it really works out well – they can do the part they love and leave it to us (on city staff) to do the administrative and logistical part.”

Another positive, Halpern said, has been partnering with Semiahmoo First Nation’s Semiahmoo Days activities at Semiahmoo Park to create one seamless weekend event.

“We’ve been providing some logistical support to them – it’s been a great partnership, which is helping solidify our relationship,” she said.

Another discovery this year has been how well Totem Park in East Beach has worked as an events venue, Halpern said.

While that was necessitated as a temporary measure for this year’s Concerts at the Pier schedule – due to delays in the reconstruction of Memorial Park on West Beach – it has provided new public exposure to East Beach, she said.

“People have really been enjoying it, and the residents seem to like it, too – we see them out on their patios enjoying the music.”

That has suggested that an East Beach stage could be an even more important part of Sea Festival in coming years, Halpern added.

“We’ve talked about two stages and spreading the love between East Beach and West Beach,” she said.

”But, all the same we’re looking forward to having a completed Memorial Park by next year – that’s going to be fabulous.”

For more information, plus details on free transportation options to and from the beach, visit www.whiterockcity.ca/seafestival, www.facebook.com/WhiteRockSeaFestival or www.instagram.com/wrseafestival

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