Culture Days returns, in person, with new activities

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Brockville Culture Days is back in person this year, with a new reading event and a host of other activities scheduled for Saturday.

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The latest event to reappear as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, Culture Days runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on King Street West, between Buell and Perth streets. It will be followed by a literary evening from 7 p.m.

As part of a national celebration of culture and the arts in local communities, Brockville Culture Days is returning to an in-person format after a two-year period.

The event reappears in a year that City Council has declared “A Year of Culture and the Arts in Brockville”.

Dubbed “Brockville Culture in Four Blocks,” Saturday’s event will feature spinning demos, a hand loom or two, analog game demos (Dungeons and Dragons-like), interactive potter’s wheel demonstrations, the Shout Sister Choir, Bollywood and Bhangra dances, a community painting project, chalking activities – and zombies from the band Tunnel of Terror.

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In all, organizers promise more than 40 groups and individuals doing their thing.

“My motto this year is Bring Your Curiosity,” said organizer Russ Disotell.

“If you walk those four blocks and something doesn’t make your heart beat faster, I’m pretty sure you’re dead.”

The local Culture Days event went digital in 2020 because of the pandemic, and didn’t happen last year, so people are eager to come back in person, Disotell added.

“By definition, we like to be in person,” he said. “Everything we do is pretty much centered around people coming together in public.”

This year will showcase some of the artistic richness of new cultural communities that have taken root in Brockville as a result of immigration, Disotell said.

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Later Saturday, the River City Reading Series will take place at Medium Effort Art Supplies, 162 King Street West in downtown Brockville, as part of larger Culture Days activities.

First Nations author Rick Revelle is one of five writers reading their works during the literary event, which begins at 7 p.m.

The River City Reading Series aims to introduce readers to writers from Eastern Ontario and beyond, according to organizers, with a mix of new and established writers of poetry, spoken word and fiction.

Hosted and produced by writer, comedian and newly transplanted Toronto native Carolyn Bennett, the literary series had a trial run in April at the From Here to Infinity Gallery on King Street. One of the goals of the series is to animate local businesses.

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“Brockville has a beautiful, historic downtown,” Bennett said in a statement. “Holding Literary Night in different spaces gives audiences the opportunity to explore unique local businesses while engaging with Canadian writers.

Algonquin author Rick Revelle will read an excerpt from his new novel The Elk Whistle Warrior Society. The evening includes readings by poet, actor and educator Lois Lorimer, speculative fiction writer Sandra J. Jackson, essayist and poet Christopher A. Taylor and writer/comedian and host Bennett. A question-and-answer session will follow.

“With more people from urban centers moving to Brockville and the Greater Ottawa Area (GOA), arts and culture will continue to grow. River City Reading Series seeks to complement the existing literary community while encouraging arts professionals,” added Bennett.

COVID-19 protocols will be respected and wearing a mask is encouraged.

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Sara H. Byrd