Westboro Fuse launched, ‘bringing us all together,’ says new BIA board member

One of the newest members of the Westboro Village BIA is striking a much more conciliatory tone as the organization launched its new street festival, dubbed Westboro Fuse.


The three-day event June 10 to 12 is replacing Westfest which had a 13-year run before the BIA decided to explore other possibilities.
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“With all of it said and done, it was a communication issue,” said West End Kids owner Sheba Schmidt. “It really had a lot to do with money.”

Ms. Schmidt and former Whispers owner Don Cogan tried to rally Westboro businesses last year in an attempt to keep Westfest, but when it became clear that wouldn’t happen, the pair, who had never met before the festival controversy, both made themselves available for one of three vacant spots on the BIA.

Ms. Schmidt said she was nervous ahead of the vote as “I’m sure there were some people that didn’t appreciate what I was saying.”

Ms. Schmidt said she felt it was important to have a stronger retail and restaurant voice on the board and once the tallies were counted, that is exactly what happened. She and Mr. Cogan both were elected, as was Mary Anne Petrella, manager of Green Tree Eco Fashion. The city’s finance and economic development committee approved their election earlier this month

A major issue facing retail and restaurant businesses, Ms. Schmidt said, is the fact that many of these owners are working on their business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now that Ms. Schmidt’s son is involved in West End Kids, she will have more time.

“The whole issue with Westfest really came suddenly to all of us. It was something that I just really wanted to pursue and make sure that we now have a festival that I am so excited about,” she said. “It’s really bringing us all together.”

Westboro FUSE festival producer, Trina Mather-Simard, outlined the schedule of events at the media launch Tuesday, hosted by new sponsor Mountain Equipment Co-op.

“What we tried to do is re-envision the FUSE festival and bring it back to the street, make it about the members, make it hip and exciting, interactive and fun,” she said.

The schedule is still evolving but festival-goers will be able to enjoy a craft beer garden, a 400-foot zip line down Richmond Road, President’s Choice SuperDogs shows, culinary demonstrations, fashion shows, live music, and a fundraiser comedy night with Canadian stand-up comedian and actor, Mike MacDonald.

The Village Quire owner, Molly van der Schee, said expectations are high for the new festival.

“It will be a challenge to follow Westfest because everybody loved it,” she said. “I think that the idea of FUSE looks awesome and amazing, but it’s going to take everyone rallying together to make it work.”

Ms. Mather-Simard said WVBIA research helped with the street programming for the new festival.

With a new perspective as a BIA member, Ms. Schmidt said she thinks both Westboro FUSE and Westfest, which will be held the weekend before in Hintonburg’s Laroche Park will be successful.

“Ottawa likes festivals,” she said. “We’ll all gain in the end.”

– with files from the Kitchissippi Times

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