The fifth installment of Up Here gets underway today, Aug. 16, and organizers are promising a jam-packed, weekend-long celebration of arts and culture.
Event organizers Christian Pelletier and Jen McKerral hosted a press conference Friday afternoon to brief Sudbury on what to expect from this year's festival, as well thank all of the sponsors and community groups that help make the event run as smoothly as it does.
"This really wouldn't happen without our volunteers, they're always ready to help out and they really care, they care as much as we do about this," said McKerral.
Pelletier spoke with pride about the light that the festival has been able to shine on local and regional talent.
"This year, eight of our 10 muralists are from Northern Ontario," said Pelletier. "We have some incredible talent here that we get to showcase."
Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland echoed Pelletier's comments, pointing to the opportunity that Up Here presents to local artists and musicians, along with Indigenous artists.
"In our city master plan we've been talking about community vibrancy, and I think this festival really represents what that is," said McCausland. "This is a launching pad for a lot of artists and is a great way of getting these people off the ground."
The Power Up project is returning for a third year thanks to sponsor Greater Sudbury Utilities who will supply six power boxes as canvases to be dressed up by some of the city's burgeoning artists, bringing the total number of boxes that have been made over to 24 in three years.
One of the biggest highlights of this year's festival is that Sudbury will become home to Canada's largest mural, as Los Angeles-based artist RISK is in the process of covering the old St. Joseph's hospital on Paris Street with brightly-coloured paints.
"With this being a milestone year we wanted to do something bigger than we've done in the past," said Pelletier. "But with the retention of volunteers that we have now and how hard they work, it allows us to be more and more ambitious every year and it seems to get easier every year."
Up Here 2019 will also feature a family day celebration in Memorial Park on Saturday, Aug. 17, which will include a massive water fight for festival-goers and families alike to beat the heat.
Looking back to the inception of Up Here (when it was known as Up Fest), Pelletier says a particular point of pride is how the festival has changed how people see their city.
"I think the impact of the murals has really stood out to me, it's changed the way we see our city," said Pelletier.
"Other cities have landmarks and we seem to be pretty good at bulldozing our landmarks...but these murals act as gateways into different communities in our city. I talked about the downtown being an urban art gallery and I think now people are really starting to see what that means and what it can look like."