James Cotton performs at the Harrison Festival of the Arts on July 17 in Memorial Hall.

Harrison Festival returns

The annual festival on Harrison Lake runs July 9-17

Every summer, the beach at Harrison Lake comes alive with music, theatre, and an explosion of colourful offerings of art and whimsy.

Memorial Hall is rigged up with risers to seat the hundreds of people that will fill them each night of the long-running Harrison Festival of the Arts.

“We’re setting up the risers and focusing the lights,” Ed Stenson, festival general manager said Monday. “We’ve been in here since yesterday, getting the indoor stuff all done so we can start outside on Thursday.”

Ticket sales have been strong and steady, and while there were no sell outs early this week, that may not be the case for long.

“Next Sunday night’s James Cotton show is selling strong,” he said. Cotton is one of the more notorious musicians on the bill this year, as a Grammy-award winning harmonica player. He spent 12 years playing with Muddy Waters, and is in the Blues Hall of Fame.

But he’s not the only reason to come to the festival. As always, each night promises to transport audiences around the world.

On Friday, the flavour is Cajun, as Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys hit Memorial stage. Then there’s Tambura Rasa’s five-piece act on Saturday that includes fiery Spanish guitar, a fully orchestrated Baladi gypsy string section and burning Afro-Latin percussion.

Hans Theesink and Terry Evans play on Sunday, bringing the blues from Europe across the pond. There’s a break from music on Monday as the focus turns to all things love, with the Literary Cafe.

Tuesday night will feature two plays chosen from the UFV Directors’ Festival, The Art of Self-Defense and The Dagger’s Before Me.

Then on Wednesday, July 13, it’s back to the beats, with the Celtic group Beoga.

Etran Finatawa has made a name for themselves around the world, from their homeland of Niger. The Harrison Festival Society named this group as one to watch for earlier this year when they released the line-up of performers.

Friday, July 15, Ti-Coca and Wanga Neges takes the stage, followed by Hapa on Saturday, July 16. The festival closes with James Cotton on July 17.

Full festival

There’s more to Harrison Festival of the Arts than the nightly shows.

Live music is lined up along the beach, with performances throughout the weekend, and at 7 p.m. on weeknights.

An art market featuring an array of handcrafted items runs each weekend as well, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays.

There is also Children’s Day, a mass celebration of arts and culture geared to little ones, on July 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Organizers have planned a crystal spirit sound healing workshop, a drum making workshop, and a special Aboriginal Collaboration on July 16, which features performers such as Leela Gilday, Diga, Cris Derksen, Kinnie Starr, Diyet and Sylvia Cloutier.

For a full list of all festival information, including ticket prices and showtimes, visit www.harrisonfestival.com.