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Community Tadbitz: “Living The Dream” Arts in the Park a blast

“I’m living the dream,” says amicable Whitecourt resident, Rob Dalke. “I came for supper and was curious what it was all about this year.”

It was an auspicious evening as “Arts In The Park” was held at Rotary Park with a fair turn out. Everything from fanciful wood sculpting with chainsaws to traditional Mexican folk dance demonstrations were on display this year. It was a total bonus that the weather, for the most part, cooperated with plentiful sunshine and blue skies.

Art is a creative, culturally diverse expression of ourselves and we share it with the world - A glimpse into how the artist sees the world. It is expressed through music, artwork, fabric, the written word, performing arts and architecture.

Whitecourt resident Natalie Valois is a writer and had a kiosk where she sold hand-crafted pillows. Each pillow, she explained to me, is an interwoven narrative. It tells a story. As I was attempting to spell her name properly, my tablet kept wanting to spell “Valois” as value. Ah, autocorrect. In any case I think there is something to be taken from that comes as no coincidence.

Hannah Lawson | Whitecourt Star

Local artist Sydnee Cook told me it was her first time at a venue such as Arts In The Park and she thoroughly liked the experience. She shared with me that she has always enjoyed drawing and recently has begun painting. She had several original pieces at her table for sale as well as samples that displayed her expressively colourful and emotionally provocative art.

The banshee wail of chainsaws filled the air as BC native and reality TV star, Ryan Cook from “Carver Kings” as seen on HGTV, meticulously sculpted masterful pieces of art out of logs using only chainsaws. Ryan has competed in competitions all over the world and in 2013 claimed first place at the Campbell River Shoreline Arts Competition. It was without a doubt an incredible display of craftsmanship. Some examples of his work can be viewed on his website at

“Sawdust makes me happy!” exclaimed enthused wooden sign carver extraordinaire, Laurie Rodd. A myriad of intricate wood carvings were prominently displayed. What caught my eye was hand carved wooden dragon murals which seemingly came to life in breath-taking detail. Laurie creates custom made signs and plaques. For more information you can reach her at 780-786-4796 or email her at

The smell of burning white sage permeated the air from smudging, a Native American practice in cleansing using a smoke bath. It’s meant to purify the body, aura, and energy in a ceremonial ritual. This is done by tying bundles of dried herbs together with coloured threads and burning them. Kateryna Loughran showed me how to smudge. She instructed me to metaphorically wash my hands in the smoke then take some over the rest of my body. She was adamant that I waft the smoke over my heart last. It was a very intriguing and interesting experience. You can contact her by calling 780-778-9376 or emailing her at

This year’s Arts In The Park was eye opening. Whitecourt is lucky to have such local talent. I’m looking forward to attending next year’s community inclusive Arts In The Park. It never disappoints. In the words of Polish novelist Jerzy Kosinski, “The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.”

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