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Going rogue all about ‘discovering art’

Rogue Arts Festival
Marina McBride and Dean Schutz, Art Gallery coordinators at Rogue Fest last year.

“Everybody loves a good party,” says Rogue Arts Festival artistic director Arwen MacDonald, and a good party is just what you can expect at the festival’s fourth annual production, which runs Friday, Aug. 23 to the 25th. 

But for MacDonald, there’s more to it than just a big bash. “For us, there’s a lot of heart involved,” she told Coast Reporter. “I definitely believe in this kind of platform in terms of community building and offering inclusive places for people to discover art. It’s important to me. I love it.” 

Much of the art comes in the form of music at Rogue Arts, which is held at Clarke Farm on Tyson Road in Wilson Creek. More than 100 local and off-Coast musicians will take to the main stage over the weekend, including Vancouver’s Bend Sinister, surf rockers Kitty and The Rooster and Australian duo This Way North. Among the locals will be the hard-rocking and award-winning Fir, The Georgia Fats, Monty Montego and the Rocksteady Crew, the Billy Hillpicker Band, folkie Ken Dunn, and more. 

A musical innovation of the festival is what it calls “collective sets,” MacDonald said. “Bands get paired up that have never played with each other before. They get 50 minutes to play together, and often that pairing is between out-of-towners and locals, which is cool.” 

Another festival feature is the pop-up gallery, which this year will be showing works from artists Dean Schutz, Simon Haiduk, Hawkfeather Peterson, Wendy Watkin, Ben Tour, Caroline Weaver, Jill Pilon, and Rose Sicard. 

Workshops are also regularly part of the schedule and there will be nine throughout the weekend, on subjects as varied as making beeswax food wraps and effectively coordinating activism to help fight climate change. 

“Ultimately, trying to provide an inclusive event means having a little something for everyone, and recognizing there is a massive diversity of people and tastes,” MacDonald said. “That’s why the image of the wolf is in our logo, and we use that image a lot – whether you’re a lone wolf or travelling in a pack, we got ya covered.” 

Organizers take pains to help people get to the festival, which is a five-minute walk from local bus stops on Highway 101. There is parking at the site, and a lock station where visitors can leave a bicycle. “We also have a shuttle bus, sponsored by Harbour Air, that is available Saturday and Sunday. We have a schedule on our website telling where people can jump on or off.” 

Rain is always possible in the last week of August. “There are lots of undercover places to hang out at the festival. We try to make everything as comfortable as possible, but we also encourage people to bring things that will help make them feel comfortable, like pop-op umbrellas, hats, and sunscreen,” MacDonald said. She also noted there’s no WiFi at the site, and no ATM, although credit cards are usable at the ticket gate and the Libation Station. 

Schedules, maps and ticket information is available on the festival website at