The Hay Days Festival saw a special emphasis on music from budding youth artists at the Sound Stage and a seasoned veteran in basket making at the Fisherman’s Wharf Aug. 7.

The Smith Sisters, made up of Rochelle, 16, and Corrine Smith, 14, both of Hay River played to festival goers Saturday morning.

The sibling duo, who tend to play covers and a combinat6ion of country, pop and folk music, had also played an Aug. 6 gig at the Doghouse Pub.

Mother Lisa Smith said the weekend was the first time they had played since the pandemic.

“They hadn’t played all through COVID-19 and so it was a really big deal for them,” Lisa said. “It was the first time since restrictions lifted and they were very, very excited about it.”

Smith said that she owes much of her daughters’ music development under teacher Lisa Duford’s Purple Pick Music Studio programming.

Duford, also a past festival performer this summer, has taught both of them since they were about seven years old.

“Linda really gets those kids going and performing every chance she can and it was their first time at Hay Days two years ago, which was a big deal,” Smith explained.

The duo are expected to play over the next month at the museum and at a private function at the Purple Pick, however dates are to be confirmed.

Smith as mother had been the Meet the Maker Artist on July 17 as founder of Pink Poppy Designs, where she makes contemporary beaded jewelry. Although she wasn’t selling items on the same weekend,

she likes participating in the art world with her daughters.

“I think the Hay Days is a fun and great community event that the whole family can be involved with and with different aspects,” she said, noting the music, food, art and general camaraderie offered for residents.

Yellowknife-based basket artist Cathie Harper, was the Meet the Maker featured artist this year and it was her third time at the Hay Days festival, although she has taught in Hay River before.

As a basket artist of 25 years in the capital, she said she enjoys engaging with people who take her workshops.

“It is a neat opportunity to get out and teach, which is what I do a lot of,” she said of the festival this year.

“I love teaching because I always manage to learn something from students that I hadn’t learned before- even from kids.

“I bring my baskets either functional ones or art pieces and I think people really appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating them.”

On Saturday, Harper had several functional baskets made of commercially grown English willows on display at the wharf. There was a woven bread bannoten, used to proof bread, on display as well as reed baskets of her own colouring and design, birch bark amulets to store little treasures, and other art pieces of different materials.

April Glaicar, festival coordinator, said she was impressed with the festival’s contributors again this week.

“The crowd absolutely loved the mix of cover songs and variety of instruments that the (Smith Sisters) girls played,” she said.

“Workshops through the week by Cathie Harper were well attended and people created functional art including pieces made with locally harvested willow branches.”

The Hay Days 2021 festival lineup has four weekends left and residents are encouraged to rush down to the Fisherman’s Wharf on Saturday morning if you haven’t already.

Next week will feature 5/3 Mad of Hay River on the Sound Stage with Fort Smith-based artist Chris Dewolf of Dewolf Artworks as the Meet the Maker featured artist. Dewolf will also put on workshops Aug. 11 to 13.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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