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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Art by the River takes over Fort Malden

by Garrett Fodor

From picturesque views to paintings, original art, and handmade goods, local artisans and their crafts were on display at the Fort Malden National Historic Site over the weekend, as the Gibson Gallery and the Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts hosted their 55th annual ‘Art by the River’ event.

  Each year, the festival draws thousands of people through the historic grounds of Fort Malden, as local artisans set up booths to sell handmade goods, arts, crafts, and food. The event draws vendors from across the local region, up to Toronto, and across to Manitoba. 

  “We were fortunate enough to hold a smaller-scale event last year, but this year vendors and patrons are ecstatic to be back and have the event at full scale,” Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts President, Syl Gagnon, described. “The weather has been great and so have the crowds. We had a record-setting attendance Saturday. It’s great seeing people out here in Amherstburg, at Fort Malden, enjoying some of the art the community has to offer again.”

  Gagnon noted last year’s show featured one-way traffic flow and masks. This year’s edition nearly doubled in size, featuring over 165 vendors, making this year’s edition one of the biggest shows the Gibson Gallery has hosted for Art by the River. The two-day festival serves as the biggest fundraiser for the Gibson Gallery, with proceeds covering operating costs, staffing, maintenance, art classes for children and adults, along with scholarships offered to local students. 

  “I love seeing the patrons come in, and, when they leave, the smiles and more importantly with bags in our hands,” Gagnon said. “What I get the greatest pleasure from is on Sunday when we’re shutting down every one of the vendors thanks us and they tell you ‘this is one of the best run shows that I’ve ever seen.’ And it just makes me so proud of the volunteer work that we do that we’ve done such a great job to make them that happy. So many of our vendors return to the show each year and it is extremely gratifying.”

  Gagnon noted the planning process for the event began in January, before ramping up in May and June. The event is made possible by the help of nearly 20 volunteers, along with the Town of Amherstburg, and Gagnon noted her majesty the Queen, for allowing the event to happen on the National Historic Site Grounds. 

  The Gibson Gallery concludes the calendar year by hosting a holiday show at its building located in Amherstburg, Gagnon invites everyone to check their website, for details as they come available. He would like to thank the community for supporting the event and invites anyone interested in learning more about the Gallery or art classes to also visit the website.


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