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Guelph Mercury Editorial

Three Loud Cheers for the Arts Community
By Sue Richards

I bought a blow-up kiddie pool on the eve of summer solstice so I could properly celebrate the arrival of my favourite season.

My pool is a delightful three-ring, sky-blue number with cartoonish fish painted in primary colours on the sides. I was immediately smitten and could barely contain my excitement as I unpackaged my treasure.

No, I am not a mother looking for a way to occupy a tribe of energetic children over the summer vacation. I am kiddie-less. Nor is the pool meant for neighbourhhood children to frolic in.

This purchase was deliberately made for me. And yes, I am a fully functioning adult. I’m simply an adult with a sense of humour and a good imagination.

And I had a vision.

I’m calling my blow-up beauty the "Martini Pool." Despite the fact that one martini is my maximum, I saw myself lying in the sun-warmed water at the end of a long workday, enjoying a cocktail and kicking back.

In reality, I’ve sucked back a couple of Coronas while partly submerged. And I’ve stood in it drinking my morning coffee. But the sexy scene I’d conjured up has yet to materialize.

Regardless, summer is still in its infancy and I have no doubt that a party will happen poolside before the snow flies. Besides, I smile every time I look at my vinyl tub. Not a bad bang for my 70 bucks.

Having a vision is a wonderful experience. Acting on a vision and bringing it to the light of day is outstanding.

About 20 years ago, I was among a group of people who had a vision to start a music festival in Guelph. Although not at the pot-luck dinner where the idea was conceived, I was a volunteer at the first Hillside Festival in 1983 and danced wildly into the night with about 200 patrons.

I was dizzy with the good vibe that we generated and committed my heart to seeing the vision grow. I stuck with Hillside full force for 10 years. I was and am one of many.

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Guelph’s very own, internationally renowned, money-making, world-class event, the Hillside Festival. It is an outstanding example of community vision and imagination.

Pegged by musicians from around the world as one of the best North American festivals to play, the non-corporate style of this mostly volunteer-run celebration is like taking the “Love Train” for a three day vacation.

And the piece de resistance for the 20th anniversary is the permanent, full-size, community stage that is being built on Guelph Lake Island as I type this piece. All this from artsy folks with a vision at a pot-luck dinner.

Three very loud cheers for the arts community of Guelph please.

For 70 bucks, you can become part of this wonderful experience. Hillside is fun unlike much of our world. Like a giant kiddie pool, filled with a delightful cross-section of colourful characters, mind-blowing talent and major good vibrations, you will end up with a perma-grin on your face that will last well into perma-frost season.

So dig out your tie-dye, dust off your hand drum, grab your tent, get rid of your watch and toss the cell phone. If you’ve never been, it’s the ideal year to start.

The spirit that radiates will warm your winter-frozen heart and make you forget all those nagging adult details for one glorious July weekend.

Hillside runs from July 25-27 on the island at Guelph Lake Conservation Authority. Advance tickets are available by calling 763-8817. Children (12 and under) and seniors are free.

Sue Richards is a social entrepreneur, artist and cultural animator. She is also a member of the Mercury's Community Editorial Board. Check out her Guelph Photo Blog.

Contact Sue Richards at [email protected]

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