Our Streets Are Stories
This year marks the 26th anniversary of Regina’s largest festival, the Cathedral Village Arts Festival (CVAF). Revolving around bustling 13th Avenue, the festival showcases some of Regina’s most creative individuals and their art forms. Attracting over 40,000 people each year, the CVAF has become an integral part of our city’s culture.
Yet not long ago, the Cathedral Village – and the festival – was much smaller, and much different than it is today. The neighbourhood began developing over a century ago and like the city, has grown much over the years. Along the way colourful characters, unique events and quirky shops helped to define what we know as the Cathedral neighbourhood today. While it may be one of the smallest and oldest neigbourhoods in Regina, it’s also home to the highest concentration of heritage properties in the city. Once upon a time, trolley cars even rolled through this neighbourhood’s streets, connecting it with the downtown core.
Last year, in honour of the festival’s 25th anniversary, the Cathedral Area Community Association put together a walking tour on izi.travel called “Village Voices”. This tour ventured along 13th Avenue and spoke to some of the people and places that make this community so unique. Some of the highlights included: the best homemade pies in the city; a love story that started in a shoe store; a book store that was used for underground rock performances, and even a tree that is used as a gateway to the fairy world. Mix these with historic school houses that became vegetarian restaurants, ever changing graffiti on building walls and — if you venture a little off the beaten path — the site of one of Regina’s most devastating floods.
This fascinating history is one of the reasons the Cathedral Area Community Association (CACA) was established in 1975. The purpose for forming the CACA was to solve problems that were plaguing the community such as overpopulation, lack of parking, lack of housing and rising crime. Not only did the CACA solve these problems, but their efforts created a new community unlike any other in Regina. With such a deeply rooted background and thriving artistic community, the CACA decided to bring the community together to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of summer. They named this festival the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, and it officially kicked off in 1992 during the May Long weekend.
What began as a short two-day long event quickly grew into a weeklong festival. Today, the CVAF hosts 115 events in 14 venues with over 120 artists and performers, and includes over 330 vendors selling handmade wares. It has also changed from being isolated to the Safeway parking lot to spanning seven blocks.
The festival includes every kind of art imaginable. From music to dance, theatre to film and visual art to picnics, there’s something for people of all ages. One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the 150 Years of Dance on Saturday, May 27th at the Artesian, along with the Art in the Swamp exhibit at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre the same day.
Running this year from May 22nd to 27th, 2017, the festival concludes with a street fair parade. Unlike most years however, the parade will also include the procession of a lucky bride and groom. After the parade is complete, the couple will take their vows before the entire Cathedral community Under the Big Top at Holy Rosary Park; a testament to the close-knit nature of the neighbourhood.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Our Streets Are Stories,” and there is no better neighbourhood in the city for this to describe. Quirky, fun and historic, Cathedral Village is the heart of the Queen City, and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival is the pride of the community.
For 26 years, the festival has been bringing the city together and there is no end in sight. Every street in Cathedral has its own story, and every year this festival helps to celebrate them. This year the festival plans to use these stories to remind the city of the unique beauty of Cathedral Village. “Our Street Are Stories” is the perfect moniker for this neighbourhood, and the 2017 festival promises to deliver a celebration unlike any other.
While the city prepares for its biggest annual celebration, the one question on everybody’s lips is “What will your story be?”