Forest Fest takes over Alberni’s McLean Mill

The veritable Alberni Forest Fest is being held at McLean Mill in Port Alberni on July 29-31.

Ivan Coyote sits on the writers’ panel and is also giving a course on storytelling.

There will be something for everyone at Forest Fest 2011, a weekend of fun activities for all ages and interests, at the McLean Mill July 29-31.

Families with young children won’t want to miss the children’s concert by popular Treehouse TV characters Bobs and Lolo at 11 a.m. on Saturday. There will be children’s activities at the family tent.

Music lovers will delight in a concert by Juno award-winning folksinger/songwriter David Francey and his collaborator Craig Werth, at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

The Sojourners, a seriously spiritual powerhouse from Vancouver, will make the forest ring at 3 p.m. on Sunday. And local buskers and musicians will keep the music alive all weekend long.

There’s lots for the literati at Forest Fest too. The Writer’s Festival kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at the mill, with a writer’s panel, emceed by poet Wendy Morton and featuring popular storyteller Ivan Coyote; internationally acclaimed author Jack Hodgins; reknowned environmental and gardening writer Des Kennedy; award-winning journalist and memoir writer Brian Brett; novelist and short-story writer Caroline Woodward; and successful children’s novelist Nikki Tate.

All of these writers will be back at the mill at 2 p.m. Saturday to perform their own original works.

Local scribes Bob Collins, Vicki Drybrough, Derek Hanebury, Shanny Nadudvary, Victoria Roscoe-Roumanis, Florentia Scott, Fran Thiessen, and Linda Thompson will share their stories and poems from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday in the Nikkei Tent at the mill.

Clayoquot Writers Janice Lore, Joanna Streetly, Jacqueline Windh, Ashley Little, and David Floody, will perform from  1 to 2 p.m.

Would you like a poem written about you or someone you know? Morton, who is McLean Mill’s Poet in Residence and author of What Were Their Dreams: Valleys of Hope and Pain – Canada’s History, about the Alberni Valley, will be happy to oblige.

Anyone interested in honing their literary skills will have the opportunity to learn from featured writers at workshops held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at North Island College.

Hodgins’ workshop on narrative writing is already sold out, but space is available in Coyote’s spoken word performance session. At time of writing, there is still room in Woodward’s character development class, Morton’s poetry workshop, Brett’s memoir-writing group, and Tate’s children’s writing workshop.

Pre-registration is required. See www.forestfest.ca for details. The $100 registration fee includes a weekend pass to all Forest Fest activities. Saturday lunch is $15 extra.

Throughout the weekend, the Tin Pants Theatre will perform their show Timber Talk. Steam sawmill demonstrations, guided nature hikes, and great food from the Steam Pot cafe will be available both Saturday and Sunday. There will be two steam donkey demonstrations on Sunday.

Advance tickets for Forest Fest are available at the Rollin Art Centre, (by Visa phone 250-724-3412) and at Echo Centre in Port Alberni.

Adult ticket prices are $10 for the Friday night writers’ panel; $15 for Saturday day and evening; $10 for Sunday; $20 for Saturday and Sunday.

Children 5–12 years pay $5; children under five get in free. Tickets at the festival gate are the same as the regular McLean Mill entrance passes.

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