Kaleido festival at heart of transformation along 118th Avenue

This weekend, Christy Morin is juggling. And juggling, and juggling some more.

The Kaleido Family Arts Festival producer is ensuring heaters are out around 118th Avenue and 94th Street, supervising the delivery of meals for hundreds of volunteers, and wrangling close to 700 artists on 13 stages with five visual art galleries thrown in for good measure.

“The yurt this year is going to be a whole multicultural space and I am thrilled about that from Latin music and it’s going to be a warm space — you can sit there and kick up your heels and do some dancing,” Morin said.

Then there’s the Indigenous village, an artistic mural planned for the old Avenue Theatre, and the front-porch music series.

Meet Edmonton musician David Marlow, who is taking part in this year’s Kaleido Family Arts Festival. 2:08

“This community is all about the ‘little engine that could’ story,” she said.

“There are so many artists that have purchased homes and live in this beautiful old historic neighbourhood, we want to bring Edmonton to our porch.”

Michael Kunicki and Christy Morin working out last-minute details for this year’s Kaleido Family Arts Festival. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

It was 13 years ago that Morin and others mounted the first Kaleido festival on 118th Avenue.

One of the drivers for that first festival was to counter perceptions lingering from the 80s about the neighbourhood.

“It’s the older thinking of people seeing it as a place to avoid because of the crime and grime that had been present so many years ago — and something that we, as a community, are always looking at ways of bringing light into places of shadow.”

Michael Kunicki is a part of that transition.

He’s in charge at The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse at 94th Street and 118th Avenue.

Kunicki expects to be “slammed” with hot chocolate and specialty coffee drink orders during the festival, especially if the weather stays cool.

All 70 baristas at The Carrot are volunteers.

“Everybody has some sort of connection to the neighbourhood one way or the other. Whether they grew up here or whether they have now participated in a Kaleido festival, it’s an Edmonton community hub on the north side,” said Kunicki.

Puppeteers Simon Gushulak and Trevor Duffy and their creations are taking part in the Kaleido Family Arts Festival. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

That’s what keeps Trevor Duffy coming back.

Duffy is a local puppeteer and the entrepreneur behind the Imaginarium Puppet Company.

“We’ve built everything,” Duffy said. “The puppets, the backdrops, the stage, the music, you name it.”

Over the last three years, the Edmonton entertainer has taken his travelling wagon to music and arts festival across Western Canada.

“But Kaleido is probably one of my favourites. It’s in our hometown. It’s family arts entertainment. It’s great.”

You can see more from the Kaleido Family Arts Festival on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.

Maria Pace-Wynters is one of the artists taking part in this year’s Kaleido Family Arts Festival. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

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