Westboro Village BIA gives sneak peek at this weekend's FUSE festival

West-end BIA presents fourth-annual summer street festival full of free entertainment and activities
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When in your life have you not been in the mood for jugglers? 

Never, right?

Attention-grabbing street performers made a special appearance Thursday night at a launch party held at the Clocktower Brew Pub, located on Richmond Road. They gave invited guests a sneak peak of what's to come at this weekend's Westboro Fuse's free two-day street festival. 

The giant block party is taking place Saturday and Sunday in the Village of Westboro, which remains one of the city's most desirable neighbourhoods. It's brimming with cool coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and specialty stores, and even a local beach. 

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Yoshi Chladny juggled as many as five pins in the air at once during a VIP launch party for Westboro FUSE. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The street festival, now in its fourth year, is mostly funded by the Westboro Village BIA, which is a roughly 300-member association of business people looking to draw more business and customers to the neighbourhood by promoting the area and by improving its overall attractiveness. 

It's the festival's sense of community spirit that Molly van der Schee finds most rewarding. “I love the feeling of camaraderie that we’re trying to build,” said van der Schee, head of the board of the Westboro Village BIA and owner of The Village Quire greeting card and gift store.

Van der Schee will be donning her jelly bean-print hot pants, by the way, when she hits the festival's TD’s Street Roller Disco with her 10-year-old daughter, Kat. It's being hosted by Neon Skates.

The festival is very family friendly, so don't let the BATL axe-throwing competition cause you to believe otherwise. There will be crafts, activities, games, performers and special guests to delight children of all ages. 

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Westboro Village BIA board chair Molly van der Schee, owner of The Village Quire, with her husband Dave on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, at the VIP launch party held at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Richmond Road for Westboro FUSE. Photo by Caroline Phillips

On hand were Michelle Groulx, executive director of the Westboro Village BIA, and Darren Prashad, vice-chair of the BIA board, as well the manager of festival sponsor Merit Travel.

The number of Westboro merchants actively involved in this year's event has more than doubled since last year, said Groulx of the 46 participating businesses. That's a good sign, she added, especially when one considers that the festival is not about generating profits at the cash register but about getting the community to come together and celebrate all that Westboro has to offer.

Michael Wood, partner of festival sponsor Ottawa Special Events, a local event design and production company, shared with everyone the lineup of talent. The live music will feature Vancouver alternative rock band Odds, Tragically Hip tribute band Road Apples, Ottawa’s Dueling Pianos, The Rock Steadies seven-piece party band, Good Advice, The MacLovins, Five + None, Joshua Earth & The Rotators, Pei & The Joynt, and singer-songwriter Mikhail Laxton, who performed at Thursday’s launch party. 

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From left, Michael Wood and Victoria Lamothe, from Ottawa Special Events, with Westboro Village BIA executive director Michelle Groulx and Jake Naylor, partner at Whiskeyjack Media and event producer for the Westboro FUSE street festival taking place this Saturday and Sunday in Ottawa's Westboro neighbourhood. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Tara Beechey, the new operations administrator for the Westboro Village BIA, with board vice-chair Darren Prashad at the VIP launch party held at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Richmond Road for Westboro FUSE. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Mikhail Laxton, seen at the VIP launch reception, will be performing with his band at Westboro FUSE on Saturday, from 2:30 to 3:30. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Special guests included Mayor Jim Watson, who credited Ottawa's festivals — all 100-plus of them — for helping to boost tourism for the area.

"The third-largest industry, after government and high-tech, is the tourism and hospitality sector," said Watson. "If we can do a better job of attracting more people here to shop in stores and eat in restaurants and have a beer on the patio from not just outside of Westboro but outside of Ontario and outside the country, that bodes well for employment and that bodes well for the quality of life here in the beautiful city of Ottawa."

At least 20 businesses will also be helping to raise money for Cornerstone Housing for Women, which provides emergency shelter and safe, permanent housing for vulnerable women. The charity was represented at the reception by its new executive director, Kia Rainbow — who took over from Sue Garvey following her retirement — and by resource development manager Jessie-Lee Wallace.

Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit fair trade retail store, has also partnered with Cornerstone to provide it with sidewalk space to help raise awareness over the good work that the charity is doing in the community.

Motorists should be aware that road closures are in effect from early Saturday morning until late Sunday night. Cars won't be allowed on Richmond Road, between Roosevelt and McRae avenues, including the intersection at Churchill Avenue

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Mayor Jim Watson with Cornerstone Housing for Women executive director Kia Rainbow and Jessie-Lee Wallace at the VIP launch party held at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Richmond Road for Westboro FUSE. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Kathy Neufeld and Judy Lincoln from Ten Thousand Villages at the VIP launch party held at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Richmond Road for Westboro FUSE. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Lily Do (Westboro Infinity Nails), Lauren Hart (Natural Food Pantry), Kaylie Taylor (Barley Mow Pub) and Claudia Arizmendi (The Cupcake Lounge) at the VIP launch party held at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Richmond Road for Westboro FUSE, taking place Aug. 17-18th. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca