Home Feature 5 things Zarah Calvert can’t wait to see at the Hillside Festival

5 things Zarah Calvert can’t wait to see at the Hillside Festival

Photo by Lisa Iesse.
This summer marks the 40 anniversary of Guelph’s Hillside festival, and as is the case with many folk fests, Hillside is about more than just music. It’s also about food, art, sustainability and, most importantly, community. So with that in mind, here are five things I can’t wait to see at the festival, and they don’t all involve music.

1. The food vendors

I know, I know. It’s a music festival, but we all need fuel to enjoy and soak it up to its full potential. This is why I’m so excited for the vendors. I’m based in a small Mexican town where it’s pretty much taco city, so this weekend will be like a mini world-travelling tasting extravaganza. I’m particularly excited about The Bollywood Bistro and imbibing some curry, as well as LemonGrass Thai Food for some coconut-based fare. I’m liking the sound of The Conscious Kitchen, as I know they are a farm-to-table vegan kitchen that provides zero-waste meal and grocery service in the Guelph area. Very cool. Very Eco. Very Hillside.

2. The Indigenous Circle

There will be a sacred fire burning throughout the weekend providing sacred space for downtime, reflection and contemplation. The fire is an important part of community, and I know that this festival draws heavily on creating harmonious community. In the Tipi, I’m particularly looking forward to one workshop called, How are You Kin to Mother Earth? (Sunday, 4 p.m.). I know that, for years, Hillside has prided itself on its green initiatives, so seeing how this pillar of the festival weaves in with Indigenous teachings will be a highlight for me.

3. Body and Mind

As a somatic psychotherapist (and peri-menopausal musician and writer), I’m so intrigued with many of the workshops happening in the Body and Mind space, particularly Women in Transition: Menopause Guidance. I mean, it’s not very often you can rock out to tunes all night, then receive wisdom about hot flashes the next day. There’s also a workshop in the Interplay area called Movement Based Empathy Building that’s calling me. Seems like we could all benefit from moving our bodies, and also building compassion and empathy these days.

4. Martha Wainwright (Saturday, 4:05 p.m. at the Sun Stage)

I’ve been a fan for many years. My muom introduced me to the McGarrigle Sisters when I was in my teens, and then it was a natural progression to fall under the spell of Kate McGarrigle’s (and Loudon Wainwright III’s) daughter, Martha. She’ll be showcasing tunes from her new album, Love Will Be Reborn (to be released in August), and I’m excited to hear her always raw and heartfelt music. After a break from being in the public light, we’ll be privy to witness this rebirth here at Hillside as she explores her rise from the darkness, back into the light. Get your lighters ready.

5. The Sunday Gospel Session (Sunday 10:15 a.m. at the Island Stage)

For a gal who gets FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and has minor anxiety at festivals having to decide between which fantastic act to see, this one will help relieve that. This session features Lonesome Ace Stringband, Leyla McCalla, Mike Sharp, Tia Wood, Catherine MacLellan, Mountain City Four, Emmanuel Jal and Nico Paulo. Looks like we’ll get a lot of bang for our buck with this one. And it’s a great way to start a Sunday. It’ll be a time to sing together, raise our voices and raise our spirits in community. Hallelujah!


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