Art Burn at the Silver Skate Festival

The recent temperature plunge came at the worst possible time for the Silver Skate Festival. It was easily thirty below with the windchill this evening, and you could really feel it in the relatively wide open Hawrelak Park. To be honest, had it not been for the fact that Sharon and I had agreed to guest judge the 2011 Art Burn fire sculpture competition, we might not have made it out tonight. But I’m glad we did, because it was quite the show! And what’s a winter festival without a little cold, right?

There were six Art Burn fire sculpture artists: Maria Butler, Randall Fraser, Will Truchon, Tanya Garner-Tomas, Vergilio le Paz and Marissa Kochanski. Here’s a little photo tour of the evening.

Silver Skate Festival
We arrived early enough to check out the awesome snow sculptures.

Silver Skate Festival
Some artists were still busily working!

Silver Skate Festival
Sharon just had to sit in the Yelp throne.

Silver Skate Festival
Gather around the fire, that’s how you keep warm!

Silver Skate Festival
Vibe Tribe performed just before the Art Burn.

Silver Skate Festival
I know they had fire in their hands, but I bet they were still freezing.

Silver Skate Festival
This was Marissa Kochanski’s sculpture before the burn.

Silver Skate Festival
Here it is during the burn. Her sculpture was the winner!

Silver Skate Festival
More sculptures burning!

Silver Skate Festival
Randall Fraser’s “hand” sculpture was another favorite.

You can see the rest of my photos here.

Sunday night is “Fire in the Belly”, during which a larger communal sculpture created by the artists will be ignited. So if you missed out on the fire tonight, you still have an opportunity tomorrow! Just make sure you bundle up.

Thanks to Erin and Ritchie for having us, and congrats on another successful year!

Edmonton’s BrightNights goes green

Holiday Light Up!Ever since the BrightNights festival opened for the year on November 22nd in Hawrelak Park, I’ve been meaning to write about it. Not because I love it and am keen to promote it, but for quite the opposite reason actually. I attended back in 2006, and came away unimpressed. I’ve got two major issues with the event – it’s relatively expensive and it’s terrible for the environment. Or at least it was.

This year, the organizers went with a “green theme” to make the 2008 edition of the festival the most environmentally friendly ever (didn’t you know green is the new black!). I noticed a video on the Edmonton.ca site recently talking about the improvements and changes (unfortunately they don’t use permalinks so I can’t link to the video) and took some notes:

  • BrightNights is operated as a not-for-profit.
  • The drive-through lights display runs from November 21st until January 4th, and covers 2.5 km of road.
  • Food Bank donations are encouraged, and any extra funds go to the hot lunch program.
  • The goal this year is to be carbon neutral. They’ve purchased carbon credits to offset emissions from both the power used in the park and from vehicles driving through.
  • All the lights are on timers this year, to avoid human error of forgetting to shut them off. Also, the hours of operation have been reduced from 6 per day to 5.
  • Enmax has joined as a sponsor for three years, and is working to ensure energy consumption is powered by wind.

The website also mentions high-efficiency lighting and certified forestry managed paper for marketing materials. Additionally, BrightNights has teamed up with Climate Change Central to help educate Edmontonians about going green at home.

Apparently the cost has gone up from $15 per vehicle to $20, so the event hasn’t become any more affordable. I’m not sure what kinds of displays they have, but I suspect it is similar to previous years.

Even though I’m still not that excited about BrightNights, I am quite happy to see the changes they’ve made to become more environmentally friendly. The City of Edmonton hopes to have a number of events operating green within three years, and BrightNights is just the first. I hope more festivals and events in Edmonton follow suit.