On a rooftop terrace overlooking the village of Westboro, the sun was shining, the drinks were flowing, the tunes were spinning and, best of all, everybody was pumped over the fact that a two-day street festival was about to hit their neighbourhood.
Westboro FUSE takes place this Saturday and Sunday, bringing with it a mix of live entertainment, fashion and food, as well as fun activities for families. From fire dancing to duelling piano players to toddler races, the neighbourhood's main street of Richmond Road is the place to go strolling this weekend.
“Let’s make this a huge party that’s not going to die at 6 p.m.,” Michelle Groulx, executive director of the Westboro Village BIA, told sponsors and organizers at a VIP Reception held Thursday at the tippy top of CLV Group’s 236 Richmond Road, a luxury apartment building that's lofty enough, at nine-storeys high, to catch greats view of the Ottawa River.
Attendees of the reception included Kitchissippi Ward Coun. Jeff Leiper and Sue Garvey, director of Cornerstone Housing for Women, which provides emergency shelter and supportive housing for women at risk for homelessness. It and the Westboro Region Food Bank will be benefitting from the funds raised during the giant block party bash.
Much to the relief of organizers, Westboro FUSE can expect mainly sunny skies, with a low chance of rain. “I’ve been watching the weather every single day,” a relieved Groulx told OBJ.social.
Representing the BIA's board of directors was its chair, Westboro dentist Dan Hwang. He was looking forward to having the main street of Richmond Road shut to vehicles so that the public could move about freely. “I simply love it when the streets are closed and we’re able to roam around; I think that’s what really brings the community out,” he told OBJ. social. “I’m just looking forward to having a drink on a patio, on a pedestrian street.”
Westboro FUSE takes place between Golden and McRae Avenues.
The BIA started the street festival three years ago after it decided to part ways with the Westfest arts festival, which, incidentally, celebrated its 15th anniversary this summer at a new location.
“Initially, when we switched the event over, there was some hesitation because we were getting rid of a good thing,” said Dr. Hwang, who owns Westboro Station Dental on Byron Avenue. “But, it all came down to the costs; it was becoming unsustainable for us to be supporting a true music festival.
“This is the third installment now of the street festival and I find that the merchants are getting more and more engaged. We’re really bringing it back to the merchants, which is what we wanted to do in the first place.”
Leave it to a banker, such as Tony Salvati, the Westboro branch manager of live music sponsor RBC, to count up how many performances will be taking place on the festival's three stages during the two days. The answer is 38, he informed guests.
The crowd got a taste of what’s to come at Westboro FUSE with a percussion performance by Baobab, as well as DJing by Olivia "OH JAY" Johnston. She will be in charge of the music at a dance party happening Saturday night at Wall Space art gallery and framing. The $5 cover charge is going to Cornerstone.
From Wall Space was director Patricia Barr, who was a walking Westboro billboard, from head to toe, with her dress from Canopy, her purse from Carousel Collective, her prescription sunglasses from Ollie Quinn, her earrings and bracelet from her gallery — which also represents jewelry artists — and her shoes from Max’s, just a little further down the road. She even got her pedicure at The Ten Spot and her massage at Back in Balance.
It’s just so convenient to shop in Westboro, explained Barr, a busy businesswoman who likes being able to duck out to her neighbouring stores, where she always gets good, speedy service.