NFOTA’s Opening Weekend–What Fun!

Maple Leaf Champions Jug Band with MC, Jessica Outram

Northumberland Festival of the Arts opened with a fun-filled evening of music Friday at Victoria Hall. Cobourg’s Poet Laureate Jessica Outram MC’d the event. NFOTA president Gwynn Scheltema welcomed everyone to the festival. And Parliamentary Poet Laureate Louise Halfe – Sky Dancer shared her thoughts about our human need for the arts, and how everyone is an artist. We are delighted that Louise agreed to fly out from Saskatoon to help open the festival and to read some of her poetry at Words on a Wire on Saturday.

Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer

Singers and musicians, Lynn C. Bilton, Marie-Lynn Hammond and Chris Cameron of the group What Fun! accompanied by All Britain champion Irish fiddler Saskia Tomkins entertained the audience with NFOTA’s theme song and a new song written for the event.

Then the audience was treated to a premiere screening of Dimitri Papatheodorou’s multi-genre film “Arcadia.” Everyone was also invited upstairs to experience the Art Gallery of Northumberland’s exhibits, “Growing Wild,” presented by Amy Shackleton and Julian Brown, and the membership show “Ambient Landscapes.”

The Maple Leaf Champions Jug band, led by Ted Staunton, rocked the second half of the evening with lively renditions of old-time blues and string-band music.

What Fun!

Words on a Wire and Parade of Poetriots

Saturday afternoon, Cobourg’s Victoria Hall was filled with poets, including Parliamentary Poet Laureate Louise Halfe, Ontario Poet Laureate Randell Adjei, Cobourg Poet Laureate Jessica Outram, Kingston poet Armand Garnet Ruffo, Cobourg poet Stuart Ross, Brighton Poet Laureate Richard Grove, Poet Laureate Emeritus Ted Amsden, and Toronto poet and spoken word artist Dane Swan.

In all, seventeen poets graced the stage, singer songwriter and poet Marie-Lynn Hammond performed one of her original songs, and there was a beautiful video presentation from Toronto poet Sheniz Janmohamed.

Ted Amsden, Jessica Outram and Richard Grove wave to the crowd on King Street

After the readings, poets joined Cobourg Poetician Wally Keeler in the first ever Poetry Parade down King Street, where they delivered Keeler’s Picnic Table Anthology to local book store Let’s Talk Books.

Three Poet Laureates rode in the parade, along with local politicians Adam Bureau and Nicole Beatty, and Cobourg’s Town Crier Mandy Robinson, and accompanied by Miranda Lukaniuk’s Poetry Patrol car.

Miranda Lukaniuk and Louise Halfe pose with the Poetry Patrol Car

On arriving at Let’s Talk Books, Mandy stood on top of the Picnic Table and gave a cry to announce the gift of the table and to thank its maker, Wally Keeler.

The Festival continues until October 2nd.

Wally Keeler with Mandy Robinson–on top of the Picnic Table Anthology at Let’s Talk Books (Adam Bureau and Nicole Beatty in the background)

Mandy Robinson, Donna Wootton, and Louise Halfe – Sky Dancer

Come to the Festival

Get more details or view the entire festival event schedule and purchase tickets here :

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Northumberland Festival of the Arts is a volunteer-run not-for-profit arts organization. To volunteer for NFOTA, please contact

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