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Treasure aplenty at annual Folk Art Festival

Cape Sable Island folk artist Lisa Wickens poses with her Canada 150 signature piece for the 29th annual Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival in Lunenburg. Wickens will be once again in attendance at this year’s festival on Aug. 5. at Lunenburg’s War Memorial Arena.
Cape Sable Island folk artist Lisa Wickens poses with her Canada 150 signature piece for the 29th annual Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival in Lunenburg. Wickens will be once again in attendance at this year’s festival on Aug. 5. at Lunenburg’s War Memorial Arena. - File image

Their art — in the pure, honest way that folk art presents itself — will come as carved wood, found-fabrics, bits and pieces made anew.

And for Sue Kelly, volunteer chair of the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival, there is a magic to it all.

“We’re very proud,” she said. “As a country, as a community, Nova Scotia has one of the strongest reputations for folk art.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of a festival that will see some 50 folk artists descend upon Lunenburg from Yarmouth to Cape Breton. They practice their art by creating with basic objects like wood or metal.

“The talent of these people is that they take what they see and what they find and turn it into something unique,” said Kelly, noting that this year’s event will feature three new artists.

It is a talent, noted Kelly, routed in the Nova Scotian psyche.

“Lunenburg County, I think, has a particular reputation for folk artists.”

The festival, which will take up residence at Lunenburg’s War Memorial Arena on Aug. 5, has captured the imagination of folk art enthusiasts and collectors across North America.

Kelly credits the ingenuity of the artists, noting that each piece is one-of-a-kind, but also gave a wink to Maudie, the biographical film about Nova Scotia’s own Maud Lewis. The film won a number of awards, including the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture.

“If anyone had sort of gone to sleep and forgotten about folk art and Nova Scotia, that movie brought it to the fore,” she said.

Not that anyone had forgotten about the festival, as organizers anticipate 1,200 to 1,400 people to attend, and roughly 60 volunteers will give their time over the course of the weekend.

Kelly explained, with a hint of admiration in her voice, that some collectors — as they do every year — will have their route mapped to their favourite artist.

“They’re very deliberate about whose booths they’re going to.”

Planning for the event, said Kelly, takes all year but the result is worthwhile.

“Every country has its folk art, but Nova Scotia has captured the imagination of the public,” she said.

The cost to get into the festival is $5. Proceeds from the festival will go to the Lunenburg Heritage Society. For more information, visit the festival’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nsfolkartfestival.

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