Langley Arts Alive: Guests travelling to attend downtown festival

In its 21-year history, the downtown Langley Arts Alive festival has gone through some dramatic changes and experienced phenomenal growth.

Event organizer Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association, has been around through much of that evolution – at least during the past dozen-plus years.

A few days ahead of this year’s festival, she took a moment to reflect on the metamorphosis, and said most of the changes have been “incredibly positive,” and she predicts nothing but good things for the event’s future.

As any show of this magnitude continues to grow, James said people have to expect – and she hopes embrace – change.

This year, for instance, they’ve relocated the children’s venue to the old CIBC parking lot at 204th Street and done away with one of the entertainment stages – instead bringing in more buskers who will mingle and perform on the street, amid the crowd.

They’ve moved all the live bands and entertainers to a main stage in the recently revitalized McBurney Plaza.

With art and artists still being the backbone of the event, James announced that more vendors than ever before are coming. To accommodate the jump from 120 to 140 booths this year, the show has been extended past St. Andrew’s Plaza to 206th Street. It now runs the full length of the one way, James said, noting that this year there will also be more interactive booths – rather than just sellers – and more artist demonstrations.

“This little festival of ours is attracting such an array of artists,” James said, tongue-in-cheek about the “little.”

This year’s show has the traditional painters, potters, and sculptors, plus glassblowers, wood carvers, metalsmiths, musicians, quilters, authors, fabric artists, and jewelry designers, to name a few.

New this year, James said her office is fielding multiple calls from participating artists and guests alike – from the B.C. Interior and the western U.S. – asking about accommodations because they want to come to Langley to be part of this show.

“This has never happened before, not to this magnitude,” James said. “That has to help drive local tourism numbers.”

Among other changes, Soroptimists of Langley remain the only food vendor at the festival, but James said at least half a dozen of the restaurants in the vicinity have approached her this year about developing new and different ways to engage with festival goers.

“All in all, if the weather is nice – which it sounds like it is going to be –  it will be an awesome day,” she said. “See you Saturday. ”

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