Westfest finds new home in Laroche Park

Westfest is moving slightly east next year.


The popular festival’s founder announced Thursday the 2016 version will be held at Mechanicsville’s Laroche Park.
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Elaina Martin said Westfest is leaving the strip of Richmond Road it has called home for the last 12 years in far better shape, adding that the move allows the event to go back to its roots of making art accessible and free and giving voices to narratives and dialogues that are not being heard anywhere else.

“We have chosen to move to Laroche Park specifically because we recognize in the area a need for economic and cultural stimulation and want to bring free art and give a voice to a community and area that is often overlooked,” she said in a statement.

Westfest has taken the form of a massive street party up to now, with Richmond Road closed down from Tweedsmuir Avenue to Golden Avenue, but with its new home in a city park, Ms. Martin is envisioning some changes.

“We dream of a space where families can bring blankets, lawn chairs, children and dogs in tow to celebrate with us,” she said, adding that the festival will continue to offer main-stage programming featuring “some of Canada’s most beloved acts.”

Ms. Martin decided to move her festival after the Westboro Village BIA opted out of the second year of a sponsorship deal it signed with Westfest. BIA chair Dan Hwang said the issue simply came down to money, with the board believing it could do more with the $125,000 it spent on the deal than sponsor one weekend of programming.

Mr. Hwang has promised there will be a comparable festival in Westboro in 2016. He said the board was going to issue a request for proposal for such a festival and had hoped Ms. Martin would submit a proposal.

That evidently did not happen and Westfest will be held at its new home June 10-12.


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