Scarecrows and Illumination: Fall Fun

The Firelight Lantern Festival at Crystal Palace. Photo: Ramesh Pooran

The Link, Autumn 2017
| by Sharon Harrison |

Krista Dalby is well known throughout Prince Edward County and beyond for the many hats she wears: puppeteer, playwright and theatre director among them. Krista’s husband Milé Murtanovski is an extraordinary painter and together they created, own and run Small Pond Arts. The 87-acre property incorporates an art gallery, an artist residency centre and trails for walking, picnicking and viewing art. A disused silo (check out the great acoustics) complete with a banner strung in fabric at its apex contains a different message or symbol each year having become annual tradition since the couple acquired the structure. This year’s message and the meaning of the two interconnecting circles: “Don’t Give Up.”

“…a fun and creative event for both children and adults.”

Of the many projects on the couple’s agenda, the annual Scarecrow Festival has become a family favourite. Now in its seventh year, the festival held over the Thanksgiving weekend is a fundraiser for the Firelight Lantern Festival and is a fun and creative event for both children and adults. With a barn full of clothing and a mountain of straw, families can use the provided materials to make a traditional scarecrow – or why not opt for the wildest and wackiest straw man the imagination can muster? There is no obligation to participate as watching promises to be almost as exciting as making your own scarecrow – or perhaps jumping in the big pile of straw will prove irresistible for big and little kids alike.

Much anticipated and quickly becoming a late-fall County favourite is the Firelight Lantern Festival. The evening begins at Benson Park where a brightly-coloured procession of lights complete with musicians, costumes, paper lanterns and giant puppetry wends its way to the beautiful Crystal Palace. The glass structure is transformed for the evening, decorated with lights, lanterns, projections and more. Musical entertainment never disappoints and always promises to be different, fun and memorable. This year, Maracatu Mar Aberto, an Afro-Brazilian percussion group from Toronto, describe their music as “rhythm, song and movement” promise to bring the fire element to this year’s fire and ice theme.

Returning by popular demand will be The Monster of Lake on the Mountain shadow puppetry play. New for 2017, a large-scale installation is planned for inside the Crystal Palace to be created by County artists from Spark Box Studio and Toronto-based Crazy Dames, and an outdoor installation in the form of a large projection screen held aloft by weather balloons is planned by Kingston’s Don Maynard.
The ever-popular lantern-making workshops will be held in the four weeks prior to the festival at numerous locations throughout the County (check out and for dates and locations).

“…a brightly-coloured procession of lights complete with musicians, costumes, paper lanterns and giant puppetry…”

The Firelight Lantern Festival, now in its fifth year, is all about embracing and recognizing the shorter, darker days of late autumn. Dalby notes, “It’s about creating the light for ourselves that will sustain us through the winter and coming together to create that light as a community through the dark months.” The festival is not just about light, but also focuses on colour, music, laughter and joy, as Dalby adds, “It feels very appropriate at this time in the year; getting darker and colder, a celebratory moment, bringing the light.”

Small Pond Arts is open by chance or by appointment – call ahead 613-471-1322.

Small Pond Arts Scarecrow Festival
October 7 and 8, 10 am to 5 pm
Free admission ($25 gets you a fully-clothed scarecrow to take home)
337 Clarke Road, Picton

Firelight Lantern Festival
Saturday, November 18, 6 pm
Crystal Palace, Picton (procession begins at Benson Park)