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The Beacon Herald
Year 2 of SpringWorks in the books
By LAURA CUDWORTH, Stratford Beacon Herald

In just two years SpringWorks has started to make a name for itself on the fringe festival circuit.

Producer Eileen Smith couldn't be more pleased as performers from this year's festival enquired about coming back next year.

“We as a festival want to be a venue, a vehicle for artists of calibre. We need to tell rural stories. And bring that which is not here, here,” she said.

Stories from cultures which are not heavily represented here and dance are examples of some of the art forms that are not as strongly represented in Perth County.

There were 21 different shows at Factory 163 over the past week in dance, theatre, puppetry among others geared toward children as young as three and adults as old they come.

“It's been fabulous. I'm really pleased with the growth,” she said.

Audience numbers were up for each show and some had a full house.

The idea is to build SpringWorks into another destination festival for Perth County. The hope in future is to branch out to several locations around the county.

Unlike most fringe festivals, SpringWorks is a juried festival so performers must have experience and proven ability.

The festival will always be held the second weekend in May when the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is in previews, Smith said. SpringWorks has been working with the Stratford Festival and is looking at offering packages that include bed and breakfasts and local shops.

“We had less funding this year than last so we're learning to do corporate sponsorships,” Smith said.

She's grateful to the sponsors who stepped up to support the very young festival.

“The intent is to support the town. We're small and young but everything starts somewhere,” she said.

Workshops were held for some Avon Maitland District School Board schools as well.

“We had 120 kids here in one day,” she said.

They did acrobatics, improv, stage combat and saw a play among other activities. The Aerial Angels workshopped a new dramatic show at the festival and also performed at Avon Public School for 240 pupils and worked with a range of students at Central Secondary School.

The goal has also been to program three shows on a Friday to attract schools from farther away in Perth County and Huron County.

The festival is always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can send an e-mail to