When Arts Alive organizer Teri James was casting about for someone to create balloon arches that could mark the entrances to the annual street festival, she landed on Kelly Langner’s doorstep.
That was roughly a decade ago, when James visited Balloonery, a North Vancouver store where Langner was working.
“Because I lived in Langley and commuted to North Van, we took the job,” Langner explained.
“Holy cow – one of the hottest Arts Alives ever. [Teri] gave me a bottle of water so I didn’t pass out,” she said, recounting her first memorable encounter with Arts Alive.
Then, years later, when Langner and Ann Marie Yanko opened up a business called Ballooniverse on Salt Lane in downtown Langley a little more than a year ago, Langner met up with James – again.
“What a small world,” she said, shocked that they both remembered each other and immediately reunited around plans for Arts Alive.
Not surprisingly, Langner has found herself playing a much larger role than ever before in the event – offering to organize all the fun and merriment she could possibly tuck into Salt Lane.
Salt Lane is a small section of road sandwiched between the one-way strip of Fraser Highway and 56th Avenue – and Langner is anxious to draw Arts Alive visitors off the main drag to explore the little businesses and happenings hidden away on Salt Lane.
“We really want people to know what’s down there. We’ve had some different people come and go, but there is a great opportunity to have a little storefront to promote yourself. There are people who have been there for years, a few new ones – us included – and there are a few spots that need filling. It’s a wonderful little community and we all try to help each other there,” Langner said.
With that in mind, for Arts Alive they are organizing a few special features exclusive to Salt Lane, including a pair of 45-minute shows with magician Matthew Johnson (on stage at 11 a.m. and another at 3 p.m.), and performances through the day by a band called West of Memphis.
“For Arts Alive this year, we have an amazing magician, Matthew Johnson – someone I have know for at least 20 years. He was an up-and-coming magician when I first met him working at the Balloonery – and now he has just come full bloom,” Langner elaborated.
“He’s English, he has an amazing dry sense of humour, and he’s been on Penn and Teller’s show in Vegas, where magicians compete for the best show using the props they give them. He is currently learning Houdini’s water tricks and has been training constantly!” she gushed.
“We also have a great band, West of Memphis – Joe and his peeps. He is very involved in entertainment for this area and they like to help out with local venues and bring attention to them. They play cover songs, their own songs, country, pop, just a little bit of everything. I think people will really enjoy them.”
In addition to the featured entertainment on Salt Lane, the decked out roadway – tucked away near the midway point of the street festival – will spotlight the offerings of several of its merchants.
That includes glass blowers, jewellers, and other artists – naturally balloons – a few food venues, collectibles and toys, and gently used clothing and a coat maker, Langner said.