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Circus, music, arts in the park

Synchronicity Festival
Robotic Horse Mechanical Sun
Local band Robotic Horse Mechanical Sun delivered their roots rock best at last weekend’s Synchronicity Festival.

The sun god of celebrations smiled on the three-day outdoor Synchronicity Festival this year.

When I arrived at Shirley Macey Park in Gibsons on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 23, Matthew Lovegrove was singing on the main stage — tender tunes from a smiling face.

After the music there was play for the kids, interesting, educational topics on display, a swag shop of hand-crafted items and workshops for all ages.

Actor and master of ceremonies Pat Dorval bellowed to the crowd, “Worms ate my compost.”

It was intriguing enough to draw me to where Naomi Fleschhut was giving a hands-on talk about sustainable, odourless compost using red wiggler worms. A later workshop showed junior woodworkers how to make a bat house to attract the critters that eat biting insects.

At this festival, the emphasis is on sustainable and recyclable. The organizers from deer crossing, the art farm have received some flak about their homemade signs that don’t seem very professional. Maybe not, but the signs are made of found and recyclable materials, lovingly embellished by volunteers.

Tickets sold out early for the 1 p.m. show of the popular Rainforest Circus, a tour de force in the trees. Since I must wait, there’s time to munch corn empanadas or salmon nuggets from the food stands while Harmony, a younger band with original material, performs in the afternoon.

The main stage music stops while the circus is on. It’s a good thing there’s Captain Numbnuts, the human jukebox, to organize a sing-along for the crowd sitting on the hay bales. “Take me home, country roads,” we warble together. He’s accompanied by some other great voices from Illiteratty, a Vancouver-based vocal group.

The Rainforest Circus is still the star of the show despite herculean efforts on the part of organizers to make it musical and fun for everyone visiting the festival grounds.

This year the circus theme is a trip to the Underworld that starts by passing through a grim gate and dark, hot tunnel. Woe to those who disobey the warnings of the guides. You may have to stay in the Underworld forever. A fancy table in the forest is set for dining, and the audience watches other-worldly characters sample unusual dishes that involve a human foot, among other body parts.

From a bed among the trees a chorus of children sing, “If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.”

There’s something creepy about them, like the weird children in Henry James’ story, The Turn of the Screw. But there’s nothing spooky about Steve Wright on the drums while aerial acrobats spin through the trees in joyous movement. Mention of the Underworld brings to mind the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter. That story unfolds in dramatic fashion accompanied by writhing acrobats and the services of a clowning Chad Hershler on hand to “process” it.

Back at the festival grounds, two great acts in the evening follow one another — Robotic Horse Mechanical Sun is terrific at roots-rock with a strong element of country. Returning to the Coast is Elphinstone Secondary School alumna Skye Wallace who has grown immensely in vocal quality and musicality. Her voice has taken on a Joni Mitchell tone that grabbed the audience’s attention.

More music followed and some folks were only just arriving, but for me it had been a full day.

See who else performed at Better yet, be sure and mark the festival on your calendar for next year.