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Youth talent on tap at Illuminate arts festival

The theme for 2022 is Step Up to Your Potential
1708 Illuminate 2 sup CC
Singer-songwriter Jenn Nguyen is set to showcase her multiple talents and powerful voice at Illuminate on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, at Kingswood Park. SUPPLIED/Photo

Trees are bursting with green leaves, the sun shines until 9 p.m., and once again youth art is set to take over Kingswood Park.

The Amplify Youth Committee is putting the finishing touches on Illuminate, a carnival-themed arts festival on Saturday, Aug. 27. 

The youth-driven arts fest will be packed with live musical performances, an art battle, a photography exhibit, poetry readings, chalk art, a balloon artist, and more. Instead of a carnival barker’s traditional call, “Step right up and win a prize,” the theme for 2022 is Step Up to Your Potential. 

“It’s bright, colourful, fun and it has an entertainment theme. We have different types of performances that fit different people. Different themes were introduced, however the carnival theme really caught fire with the committee. What we do every year at Amplify is encourage youth to explore their creativity and this theme fits our mandate,” said Kathleen Bell, the city's community cultural co-ordinator. 

A whimsical, all-ages favourite is Dan the Balloon Man. He has been tagged to create intricate air-filled sculptures from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. There is no cost for the balloon sculptures. 

In total, about 35 youth artists from St. Albert and the surrounding area will contribute their talents to the arts festival. Eight sidewalk chalk artists hope to lift visitors’ spirits by creating popular characters and bright, carnival-themed imagery. 

Another 10-plus photographers have submitted their images to be printed, mounted in plastic, and strung in between lights on Kingswood Park’s trees. 

Spoken word artists Amy Bearon, Zoe Adams, Alexi Leblanc, Yuri McGillvery, Kierra Leung, and special guest poet laureate Lauren Seal will drive the literary conversation at their stage in the park’s northern rock garden. 

Stretching throughout the evening is the famous Art Battle featuring three rounds ranging from 30 to 45 minutes in length. Eight visual artists will compete while the public casts its vote. 

“It’s a fun activity for visual artists. They’re released from the idea of working on it until it’s done or until [it has] achieved perfection. They enjoy it as an exercise,” said Bell. 

Another big draw is an evening-long variety show featuring a diverse spread of singer-songwriters and musicians. The musical styles range from folk, pop, and rock to R&B, Latin, instrumental, and everything in between. 

Leading the pack will be Quinn Pudlo, a popular guitarist who employs backing tracks for his songs. Immediately following will be Isaac Friesen and George Zhang, popularly known as ph15. The duo was introduced at Amplify’s 2020 online show and will return to sing indie rock covers. 

Another new singer to join the Amplify fold is Theadora Harness, an emerging songwriter who just released an EP. Jake Souch, a Sherwood Park-based folk-roots artist will also be back with original material. 

“His songs are very meaningful. They’re very compact. He's a very good storyteller,” said Bell. 

St. Albert’s own Cyra Paddon, a mesmerizing singer, brings out the joy and enthusiasm of R&B covers. 

“She has these powerful vocals and an incredible stage presence. She’s super fun, chatty and very interactive with the audience,” said Bell. 

Jaimi Remple, a Grade 8 student at Lorne Akins Junior High, will be the youngest performer to stand at the microphone. Her go-to music is Tom Petty, The Beatles, pop, folk, and classic rock covers. 

Sisters Ayla and Saskia LaPierre are trained in musical theatre but plan to shift genres to sing classic rock, punk, and alternative rock. Alexa Leon, formerly of the Paul Kane High quartet King Casserole, will feature sultry Latin music. 

Similarly to Paddon, Savannah Hill also celebrates blues and R&B. 

“She’s great on guitar, and she has a beautiful, powerful voice. She also likes to do covers from 1960s and 1970s folk artists,” said Bell 

Jenn Nguyen, a late addition, is a young pianist with mad singer-songwriter skills. 

“She’s another of these super talented people with powerful vocals,” said Bell. 

“The committee wants to bring the community together and have fun at a light-hearted evening. We were proud and lucky we could run an event in 2021, but we were still nervous. This year, we’re excited about focusing on art and fun. The artists are so talented and it’s a free event,” said Bell.

Visitors are encouraged to bring snacks and lawn chairs or blankets.  

Illuminate runs Saturday, Aug. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Kingswood Park. Although the event is free, parking is limited. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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