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Letter: Is Up Here worth your time? Absolutely

Sudbury artist Heather Wise shares her thoughts on Sudbury’s weirdest summer festival
typewriter pexels-caryn-938165 (From Pexels by Caryn)

What was my experience at the Up Here festival this summer? Thanks to the generosity of the Up Here festival, I received a passport through the Independent Living Centre.

Well the first day of Up Here was a great fun evening of live bands, incredible lighting, sets and environments, visual art and vendors selling everything from food and beverage to handmade and unique things — books, baby clothes, ornaments and jewellery as well as endless cool products. 

I loved the atmosphere of people of all physical looks, dressed all kinds of ways, hanging around, shopping, dancing, chilling or simply having fun. Being part of the over-50 crowd, it was so interesting to see younger peoples’ music, fashions and vibe. 

The next day, my friend also had a passport and there were all kinds of family activities and appropriate fun things for children. If your taste is rock music, there was a very talented adolescent girl band playing. It seemed to be a great inspiration for the children with their families there.

At a great Sudbury icon, The Grand Theatre, my friend and I went to the geology exhibit. What a magical environment with free tea and cookies. Sparkly and beautiful rocks were on display and this friendly geologist discussed the earth, meteors, gems, metals and ores in a way that almost anybody could understand. She was a prospector and her enthusiasm and people skills were so friendly. 

After her fun talk, there were magical special effects set up at the front of the theatre. We enjoyed walking through the cool magical mist of dry ice hovering over the floor and hunting for stories in both French and English. I'm an Anglo, but as my friend is a French-Canadian, she enjoyed both the French and English stories. 

As we are both ladies in the over-50 crowd, once again being in the Grand Theatre brought us back to wonderful memories of going to the movies with our mothers in the 1970s. 

She had to go home, but later I saw an amazing live performance art at the Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario. I could not be more Anglo if I tried, but I'm a late-blooming Francophile. 

The Mr. Big exhibit was creepy in a good way without the live performance and I was so looking forward to seeing dynamic performance artist Genevieve that night. The gentleman with Genevieve did music and performances that were so freakily creative it didn't disappoint. 

Now I only had so much time and I haven't been 22 in a long time, so I was not able to use all the perks of the passport pass. I know for a fact that Strange Attractor is one of the best bands in the universe, but I was just too tired to go see them, as well as the other incredible bands the passport pass gave me an opportunity to see.

I am, in fact, the Sudbury artist of the infamous temporary Jesus head at Ste-Anne-des-Pins Church. As I am over half a century old, I have always observed that this incredible city of Sudbury has talent and creativity everywhere I go. 

The Up Here Festival was an incredible showcase of a piece Sudbury’s incredible talent. 

I just started my own business, Heather Wise Studios. I am photographing and selling my 200 to 300 works of art. I am in the process of patenting my Temporary Jesus Head merch, and hope to do the international launch of my merch at the next Up Here festival. 

Even if I am not able to do the launch, I will still be one of the first ones there next year. Believe me, the festival is certainly worth it.

Heather Wise