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Lupercalia founder Josh Richardson has an appetite for festival growth

Tara MacKenzie sings at The Roxy Theatre during Lupercalia 2012 with the MacKenzie Blues Band. JOHN FEARNALL/for The Sun Times.

BILL HENRY
Sun Times staff
Lupercalia + ? = ?
With a buzz downtown, still, after last weekend’s Lupercalia, festival, founder Josh Richardson was already musing ahead earlier this week. What’s next for his growing grass roots celebration of local music, dance, film, visual arts and spoken word?
Food, among other things.
Richardson is onto something again, don’t you think?
Full, quick disclaimer: With Scatter the Cats and others, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure and privilege of fiddling at both Lupercalia festivals. And I’ve written here about fellow musicians involved in Lupercalia, and its sister event Otherfolk, running the night before Summerfolk, and about Richardson, who I admire for what he’s accomplished.
It’s clear all four of these growing grass roots events which embrace and showcase our local culture have quickly become an important aspect of that culture.
They unify and liven up the downtown – and in mid February – while filling venues and drawing visitors to the community.
So, food.
Good enough reason to stretch Lupercalia to three days?

Lupercalia founder Josh Richardson at the Lupercalia 2012 Friday night concert at The Roxy. JOHN FEARNALL/for The Sun Times.

“I do think that’s the next step. I’ve been thinking about the food and the popularity of local food now and how many great chefs there are around here.” Richardson said during a Bean Cellar chat this week.
“I just thought it would be great to have a bunch of chefs come down to the farmer’s market and have all sorts of food and have a feast. Because that’s what we were doing on the Sunday anyway, was eating with all the artists. It was a great wind down.”
With the addition this year of a new, artistically and financially successful Friday night concert at The Roxy, in addition to some 20 venues Saturday, and 50 acts, about 1,500 people passed “through the gate” during Lupercalia 2012.
The event was a feast of more than just music, though.
As well as the links with supporting music venues, Richardson has also built relationships with downtown cultural facilities, and included dance, film, poetry and spoken word.
Films were at the library. A partnership with the Tom Thomson Art Gallery put visual art, including work from Richardson’s brother Joel, on display in conjunction with Lupercalia. They included design work from Jes Donovan, collage from Cleo Markowitz-Dyer at the gallery.
John Fearnall’s photographs of last year’s festival were on display at The Griffin Gallery in the Roxy lobby, while the gallery at Foto Art featured roller derby by photographer Carlo Obillos.

Headliners The Silver Hearts perform at the Roxy during Lupercalia 2012 while artist Kyle Haight paints. JOHN FEARNALL/ for The Sun Times.


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