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Green music fest touts all-Canadian lineup

Westfest, a free arts festival in its 12th year is going 100 per cent green this year in a partnership with Ottawa-based mobile solar company, Solar On Site.

The festival took place from June 13 to 14 at 418 Richmond Road, used solar panels, added recycling zones, and water bottle refill stations in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Westfest also attempted to be the first Canadian music festival to rely entirely  on solar panels  to power all three of its stages. Solar On Site contributed a mobile, off-grid generator  to collect the most sunlight.

During the late nights, the festival will still be solar powered with the stored solar energy in the generator. What truly stands out about this invention is its ability to be solar powered during times when the sun is not out, according to the press release.

Elaina Martin, Westfest’s founder and producer, says that she has been attempting to go green for years but had trouble finding anyone in the area with the solar technology. “As soon as [Solar On Site]arrived on the scene, I grabbed a hold of them and created a partnership with them very, very quickly.”

Westfest features a wide range of Canadian art, from musicians to poets.

Supporting Canadian musicians is something Martin, a former musician herself, understands. She was previously a musician while working as a correctional services worker. Martin says she’s been, “playing music since she was 10 years old”, and that “on weekends I was a player, I was playing and performing.”

With this experience being an artist, Martin knows the importance of promoting local acts and dedicates the Sunday line-up of the event to local Ottawa artists and bands every year.

“I don’t feel like the majority or any of the other festivals put Canadian artists in the forefront, and I think if we’re not going to do that, then who’s going to?”

Sylvie Hill, a University of Ottawa graduate and this year’s curator of Westfest LIT, the festival’s adult-only literary showcase. She said the benefit of Westfest’s focus on local artists is that, “everyone has a shared jovialness…and it’s such a cool environment to be a part of.”

Lynn Miles, Juno-award winning musician, is a returning performer this year at Westfest, citing past experiences, “I’ve always enjoyed myself very much. It’s really well organized, and well run, and well attended…everybody seems to have a great time.”