Up Here 4 transformed downtown Sudbury this past weekend and attracted carfulls and busloads of out-of-towners.
The urban art and music festival shut down part of a street for dancing and art installations, took over Memorial Park on Saturday, introduced several new murals, and packed local venues with festival-goers.
While many of the 8,000-plus people (“We just finished crunching things … We had record-breaking entrees with 8,595 attendees. We're over the moon,” said festival co-founder Christian Pelletier) were locals, a significant number of them came from away.
We were curious to know what these folks thought about the city, so we asked!
Responses ranged from “the people remind me of East Coasters” to “it’s desolate and strange but very welcoming” to simply “Whooooooo!”
Some people came up from bigger cities like Toronto or Montreal. To many of them, Sudbury was refreshing in a few different ways.
“It’s a cool breeze,” said Veronique Dault, here from Toronto, adding that she meant that literally — it cooled down quite a bit at night — and more metaphorically.
“It’s a different vibe than other cities,” said Toronto’s Korea Town Acid. “People are friendly, it’s chill.”
Some, however, noted that is was a bit of a trek to get here.
Charles Blondeau, who drove from Montreal, quipped “far” when asked for one thought about Sudbury.
At the same time, Andrew Demers (another Montrealler) who drove the nine hours to Sudbury crammed in a car with four other musicians (and their gear) assured us that he “would put [himself] through 29 hours of discomfort to get here.”
“I’m coming back,” agreed his bandmate Stuart Buckley.
Some festival-goers were here for the first time and wound up loving it.
“I never even heard of this place before I met these guys,” said Pete Manchetti, referring to Tommy and the Commies, who he just signed to his record label Slovenly Records. He wound up DJing an after-party at someone’s house and getting to know quite a few Sudburians.
Another first-timer, Maddy Elias from Hamilton, said, “This is where I feel ultimately free, the body language, the energy, it all says ‘You do you’”.
Others had been to Sudbury before and had already developed a weird sort of love affair with the place.
“Sudbury feels like the Twilight Zone, with a weird gravitational pull that keeps me coming back,” said Sarah London Bergman, a Torontonian who’s been to Sudbury to work on films and several times and made friends with the locals over the past couple years.
“Sudbury is fascinating,” said Pierre Bedard. “I’ve been three times before and each time I come, I find cool things, like ‘Ooooh, they have a gay bar!’”
Whatever people’s exact thoughts on the city, it’s worth noting that not one person had a bad thing to say about the city, and a good chunk of them plan to come back soon.
Tignasse Arsenault who performed with Donzelle may have summed up what others tried to articulate about Sudbury best: “It reeks of happy,” she said.
To see what some of the specific out-of-towners had to say, click through the photo gallery and be sure to read the captions.
Ella Jane Myers is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury. She's fueled by good grub, old sci-fi and long walks with the dog. Visit her at EllaJaneMyers.com.