Monday, September 13, 2010

23rd International Festival of the Stick (Small Pond Arts)

On the weekend I had the pleasure of taking part in the 23rd annual, International Festival of the Stick at Small Pond Arts ( in Prince Edward County. The hosts of the festival, and owners of Small Pond Arts, Milé Murtanovski and Krista Dalby, did a great job of organizing the event. Price of admission was one stick that you placed in the "River Styx" (second down on right) that ran from a bush to a tree in front of the house. There were even stepping stones so that the more daring could try and cross.
The main highlight of the event was the Museum of the Stick.
Some of the things you'll find in the museum (as it's still open) are drawings that Milé had done with lipstick (bottom right), Fun Dip with the Lik-a-Stik, a brief history of the stick, the history of the sticky bun (with samples), chop sticks, glue stick, chap stick, memory stick, Hickory Sticks (with samples), a talking stick (beautifully sculpted by Peter Paylor), rainmakers, a didgeridoo, hockey stick. . . you get the picture. For the kids (and some adults) they had paints set out so you could paint your own souvenir stick. You could even pick up a complimentary stick cozy to protect it.
Some kids had already done some drawings of the festival's mascot, Hickory Stick (seen top right), originally drawn and designed by Niall Eccles.
Later in the afternoon people were walking on sticks as Milé and Krista brought out the stilts and gave lessons to anyone brave enough. Shamefully I was not, though one of my nephews, Mitchell, was. He enjoyed walking on stilts, but found it odd; especially when he got down off them. He did a great job and wants to give it another go.
Special thanks to Milé Murtanovski and Krista Dalby for being such great hosts and putting so much work into it.
Not to take anything away from the glorious stick, which has earned all its honours, but the festival was creativity for creativity's sake; and what is greater than creation?
I can't wait until next year!

Milé, Krista and I all did readings in honour of the stick; below is the piece I wrote and performed.

The Glory of the Stick.

Initially when Milé and Krista asked me to do something for the festival of the stick, I thought I would just get up, grab a stick and try to improv my shtick; but I was struck with a fear of getting stuck. So I grabbed a stick, that someone was kind enough to put some lead in, and jotted some thing’s down.
As I scribbled I was reminded of our ancestors who would have used a stick for drawing in the dirt, the earth as their scroll, by the light of the sticks burning in the fire, torches creating a protective circle, audience sitting on logs; I wondered what pictures they drew?
Using stick figures to create the first graphic novel as they added pictures to their words. The dancing flames may have made the images look like they were moving, planting the seed of an idea that would be passed down to later become television and film.
All of civilization owes itself to the mighty and humble stick.
The sticks used to tell stories in the sand and record them on cave walls so fellow travellers and future generations could learn from the adventures, triumphs and mishaps of their ancestors and fellow human beings.
We harnessed the power of fire, thanks to the stick. And the wheel, the wheel is a wonderful thing but to find it you only need to look at the end of the stick. And where would that wheel be without an axle and what is an axle but a stick? A big stick, I grant you, but that is yet another glory of the stick; it comes in all sizes to suit our needs, to shore us up when we walk or put a roof over our heads when we stop and need shelter.
Look at what the written word has done for us and what are our letters but images of sticks, crossed, dotted and bent to represent different sounds so we can communicate learn and grow.
Small but mighty, humble and inspirational, these sticks that we walk on without a thought are holding us up.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, yes, two sticks, they comfort me. And if all shall fall to pieces I’ll gather the herd and rub those sticks together over a pile of other sticks and create fire. Then we’ll sharpen other sticks into arrows and fashion others into a bows and we’ll hunt for our supper to cook it over that fire, and use other sticks to dig out and hoe a garden.
And with the humble stick, that has given itself for us in so many ways, we will rebuild civilization.
Thank you, dear stick; we owe our lives to you. And you will always be, my dog’s favourite toy.

Copyright © Colin Frizzell 2010. All rights reserved.

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