Blyth Festival officially cuts ribbon on new outdoor Harvest Stage
BY DENNY SCOTT
On Aug. 11, which marked the first day of performances at the Blyth Festival’s new outdoor Harvest Stage, a number of local dignitaries were at the site to cut the ribbon on the new facility.
Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb and MPP Lisa Thompson, alongside Warden Glen McNeil, Reeve Bernie Bailey and members of Community Futures Huron, which had aided in the creation of the stage, were at the site to officially open the stage.
Introduced by Festival General Manager Rachael King, they each took some time to reflect on the new stage and the importance of the Blyth Festival.
Bailey was first to speak, saying that since he had been elected as North Huron Reeve, he has been working hard to make sure the Blyth Festival receives the recognition it deserves. He also spoke about how great it was to see the Festival utilizing the campground and how the outdoor stage project was brought about at the same time North Huron Council was putting an emphasis on having the campground better utilized by transient visitors to the community.
Lobb said the venue is a beautiful addition to the community, and said he expected nothing less from the Blyth Festival. He said the Festival and the community offer such unique experiences that it was no surprise the stage was remarkable.
Lobb went on to say that the Blyth Festival is “ground zero” for new and innovative Canadian content and that everyone from Huron County should be familiar with the works produced there.
Thompson congratulated everyone involved, saying the stage was “another gem” for Huron County and Blyth.
She said the stage would offer unique opportunities as a performance venue and that the Festival should “be ready to rent [it] out”, saying the organization had “hit it out of the park this time” with the creation of the space.
“I’m happy and impressed to see this type of initiative,” she said, adding she looked forward to bringing provincial cabinet members and ministers to the site.
McNeil then spoke, both congratulating everyone involved in the creation of the stage and saying that, to stay relevant, organizations need to evolve and that was what the Festival had achieved.
“Huron County is proud to have this and to welcome people here,” he said.
Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt spoke last, saying the past year-and-a-half has been a trying time, during which the organization was only looking at survival. Since then, however, he said the focus had shifted to putting together a great season of theatre.
He said the stage and even the theatre itself are a “community-building machines” that will work to bring everyone together during the “polarized times” in which the world finds itself. He then thanked everyone for attending before cutting the ribbon on the stage alongside Thompson.