Sioux Narrows Arts Festival held on Saturday

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Sioux Narrows Arts Council held their annual Sioux Narrows Arts Festival on Saturday from 10:00 3:00 p.m. at the Sioux Narrows Provincial Park. Admission was by donation to raise funds for the 60th anniversary festival next year.
Usually, the festival is held in the Sioux Narrows Curling Club. But due to COVID-19 precautions, the organizers moved it to take place outdoors. Artists were out at campsites along a 1.2 kilometre trail route. The event organizers said this will give artists the opportunity to reconnect with a new audience in a spacious outdoor environment.
There were about 20 vendors displaying art pieces featuring paintings, carvings, jewellery, woodwork, textiles, paintings and other crafts by local artisans.
Vendors came from Fort Frances, Kenora, Devlin, Longbow, Lake Naotkamegwanning First Nation and Sioux Narrows to support the fundraising event by local residents in Sioux Narrows.
Laurie Ward, 69, came from Kenora to display and sell his woodwork. He said he has been woodworking and displaying his work for 35 years. It is the satisfaction he gets after he finishes each piece that keeps him going.
Ward had 20 pieces of woodwork walking into the festival and ended up selling 11. Ward makes platters, bowls and vases.
Woodworking is just a hobby for Ward. Before retiring, he was a contractor most of his life and he also worked as a teacher for six years.
Ward said he got into woodworking when a friend of his had a wood lathe and and he liked what he was doing with it that he ended up buying one himself.
Ward works with maple, ash, birch, poplar and willow. However, he said some wood is harder to work with then others.
“I work with a lot of spalted wood. Spalted wood has great colour in it but there is a fungus that, if left too long, rots the wood and so I have had some that the project has flown right off the lathe because it is too rotten. Some of them become extremely hard to finish because they are very close to being rotten.”
Ward said the time taken to finish his pieces vary. Some take four hours and others take up to four days, he said. However, the wood type dictates what shape it will be and how it can be used.
“It is mainly decorative,” Ward said. “It can function as a vase and I also some function as platter to serve raw vegetables on it. You can wipe them, but you can’t immerse them in water.”
According to Sioux Narrows Arts Festival’s Facebook page, the Sioux Narrows Arts Council raised $2,068.90 towards the 60th Anniversary Sioux Narrows Arts Festival events in 2021. This event is set to feature juried artist show, free concerts, children’s art exhibit, demonstrations, local artist gallery and other special events.