Three days of amazing weather and community welcomed guests of the 15th Westfest in Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighbourhood.
With the dancing beginning right on schedule on Friday, June 8 with spirited performances from Silla + Rise, Witch Prophet and Bear Witness of a Tribe Called Red. Joining the opening night of music and art, was contemporary solo dancer, Artin Avaznia; a first for Westfest audiences in several years.
In another first for Westfest was the Saturday afternoon panel discussion. Held inside neighbouring Tom Brown Arena on June 9, featuring Ehren Thomas (aka Bear Witness), Elsa Mirzaei of the Babely Shades, Lake Urmia and Carleton University’s Education coordinator Fiona Wright joined artist, activist and educator Cara Tierney to discuss how festival organizers can better accommodate and promote artists representing indigenous, LGBTQ+ and other minority groups within their festivals.
Carrying on Westfest’s proud tradition of inclusion, Saturday afternoon’s diverse lineup included performances by Julie Corrigan, Kimberly Sunstrum and Rita Carter. Also returning to Westfest tradition, the festival welcomed Canadian indie legends, the Pursuit of Happiness; who are celebrating 30 years of their platinum-selling album, Love Junk. Meanwhile, inside the Tom Brown Arena, an after party featuring Brockville blues outfit, River City Junction, partied well into the early hours.
Westfest wrapped up on Sunday, June 10, with a lineup that delighted the west Ottawa crowd. From the growing talent of 8-year-old Illiyah Rose, to Hintonburg’s own Bad Parent, to the return of the magnificent Bella Straight’s and her House of Illusion drag show, nobody was left sitting by the time Cody Coyote (joined special guest Crook the Kid) took the stage in a triumphant homecoming.
The feeling of home is one felt from everyone involved with Westfest; and as the festival eyes it’s 16th year, it’s a welcome feeling everyone in Ottawa’s west end communities cannot wait to experience again.
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Born and raised with thoughts and aspirations of becoming a famous bassist in Sarnia, ON; Emily Plunkett now lives in Gatineau, QC, and considers National Capital Region home sweet home. A product of the Beatles, MuchMusic and the Southwestern Ontario summer festival circuit (circa 2000), her interest and love in concert photography came almost completely by accident when her journalism program at Algonquin College required courses in photojournalism (and she quickly realized that photos taken at concerts using a DSLR are enormously better than ones she was taking on a point-and-shoot she bought for a trip to England). She is extremely proud of the fact she has seen Sloan in some form or another 25 times.