Special to The Record
The Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens Artisans’ Festival has become one of the Comox Valley’s Labour Day weekend “must attend” traditions. This year the festival runs from Saturday, Sept. 5 to Monday, Sep. 7.
Now in its 13th year, the festival is designed to showcase the works of an eclectic mix of artisans and artists from throughout B.C. From exquisite pottery to handcrafted glass, unique driftwood furniture to hand-forged metal sculpture, works on canvas and paper to sterling silver jewelry and much more.
“Our goal right from the beginning,” said Bryan Zimmerman, owner of the gardens, “was to create an event that would not only provide an opportunity for these many talented artisans to sell their work but also to provide a venue that would enhance the garden experience for our visitors.”
This year part of that experience will be to see some hands-on demonstrations such as potter Steve Choi working with clay and Dave Kasprick firing up his forge in order to hammer red hot metal into works of art. 40 Knots Winery will also be on hand so that visitors can get a taste of the art of an award-winning master winemaker.
In addition to the many artisans, visitors will find a number of musicians performing at different locations throughout the gardens. To name just a few, Brad Prevadoros entertains with his classical guitar, Anela Kahaimoe captures the magic of the Islands of Hawaii, Jorge Alfaro soothes the soul with his pan flute and Jack & Don of Canuck Country bring their own special brand of music to the gardens.
Over the years the festival has attracted many different artisans and there are always new participants who come on board each year. Many of these highly talented people are award winners in their disciplines, some have received international recognition and others are sought after by collectors from around the world.
Then there are those who have been exhibiting at the festival since the very beginning. Wood carver and turner Courtney Powell is one such artist. “Aside from being able to showcase my work in a setting that is most fitting for my pieces,” said Powell, “I thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity to meet people face to face so that I can provide some insight on how I work, for example, with a piece of salvaged 1,000-year-old wood.”
While on the subject of woods, the gardens have been recognized internationally as one of the finest informal gardens in North America. With over four kilometres of trails that wind their way through the fern-covered forest floor to the bottom of a valley, the gardens are a showcase for an incredible number of indigenous plants all supplied by Mother Nature.
Being in the great outdoors, walking the trails and visiting the booths can certainly bring on an appetite. To help satisfy the hunger, visitors will find an array of food vendors who will be serving up their own creations including some amazing Mexican fare, gourmet hotdogs, the East Indian cuisine of Ceylon and the ever-popular mini doughnuts.
One thing to remember as visitors take in the gardens is that they are the creation of one man, his family and friends who have tilled the soil, planted thousands of flowers, shrubs and strategically placed fountains and unique garden features so that all can enjoy nature in a more natural setting. And on this weekend the work of many talented artists and artisans.
Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens is located just 15 minutes north of Courtenay off the Old Island Highway. Festival hours are Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 5 and 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday, Sept 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. For further information about the gardens visit the website at woodlandgardens.ca