Thousands of visitors enjoyed a new, unique, four-day event featuring world class puppetry and family-themed activities, which opened new doors and brought in new fans for Stratford Summer Music.
World in a Weekend took place in the Festival City at various locations Aug. 4-7. Stratford Summer Music partnered up with SpringWorks PuppetWorks! for the inaugural show that was a hit for all ages.
Kendra Fry, general manager, Stratford Summer Music, said the weekend was a 'stellar success' and marked a dramatic expansion from last year.
“We came out of the gate strong,” she told StratfordToday. “This is the first year we've done this. Last year, we had some of the stilt walkers wander past the barge and that was the extent of our collaboration. This year, we collaborated on activities all over town and on Veterans Drive."
“There's still some numbers to do but we know we saw 3,000 members of the public on Saturday … Sunday, it was a little quieter, because I think the second day of heat did people in, but I think we're still looking at maybe 1,500 to 2,000 people.”
Those numbers represent just the outdoor activities. Fry says they are still crunching the numbers when it comes to the events which required an activation to attend – such as indoor events.
The street festival atmosphere included puppet creation play areas, a puppet show from Iceland and stilt walkers making their way around the city. Barge music and other Stratford Summer Music musicians complimented the activities.
Fry said that seeing the community get out and enjoy themselves was the highlight – that and seeing how far away people came to watch. The weekend drew in people from three provinces and 16 different countries. There was a large population from across southwestern Ontario, too – Toronto, Orangeville, Barrie, and Sarnia, to name a few.
Although proud of the accomplishments of her and her team, Fry noted that some issues that were present this year are concerning when thinking about next year. Fry had the capability to hire three paid positions but they were all unfilled.
“We had lots of grants and lots of money to hire people, but we could not get staff,” she explained. “I had hoped to hire two or three more crew and was completely unable to. If I can't solve that, I'm not sure how it all comes together. It's scheduled for next year. We'll do a post mortem. We'll talk about it.”
She noted that if it weren’t for the many volunteers that stepped up – some of them on short notice too – World in the Weekend would not have happened.
Stratford Summer Music Festival runs until Aug. 14. For more information, visit their website.