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ROCKINGHAM: Weather, crowds make Supercrawl a success

Posted: September 11, 2017

Plans already in works for ‘epic’ 10th anniversary next year, says organizer

NEWS 05:00 AM by Graham Rockingham  Hamilton Spectator

A busker playing guitar and a kazoo identified himself as Mr. Squirrel and would work for “Munny or Nuts” at Supercrawl on Sunday. – John Rennison,,The Hamilton Spectator

We have survived Supercrawl IX. Now brace yourself for Supercrawl X.

The ninth annual three-day music and arts festival took over Hamilton’s downtown core this weekend, packing James Street North from King to LIUNA Station with tens of thousands of Supercrawlers taking in a wild smorgasbord of entertainment and culinary delights.

Bars, galleries, shops and restaurants were overflowing, while pedestrian navigation through the lineups at the more than 35 food trucks on the street proved, at times, almost impossible.

When the headlining musical acts took the main stage — The Sheepdogs on Friday and the Sam Roberts Band on Saturday — the entire area around King William and James was wall-to-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder people.

Despite some early evening rain, Supercrawl director Tim Potocic said The Sheepdogs may have drawn the largest Friday crowd in festival history, even surpassing the 2014 turnout for the Arkells, estimated at 20,000.

On Saturday night, following a full day of sunny skies, the crowd that greeted Sam Roberts at 11:30 p.m. was even larger. By 1 a.m., the entire street was singing the “I think my life is passing me by” chorus to Roberts’ closer “Brother Down.”

Although organizers have not thus far put together attendance estimates, this year’s Supercrawl will likely go down as the most successful yet.

Potocic is already working, however, to ensure that next September’s 10th anniversary is even bigger.

“We’re going to raise the bar on every level,” Potocic told the Spectator. “Clearly our 10th anniversary has to be epic.”

Potocic said he’d like to see some of the best acts of the past nine years return next year.

“Offers have already gone out and we’ve had some responses,” he said. “I’ve got lots of plans. I’ve just got to find the money.”

On Saturday night, a huge crowd also gathered at York Boulevard, just east of James, where Circus Orange put on a spectacular 30-minute display of aerial acrobatics, suspending several performers from a crane over the audience, rhythmically gliding through a shower of fireworks.

James Street North was filled with music throughout the festival, and not just on the three main stages where a total of 50 acts performed. Buskers lined the streets and parking lots while clubs like This Ain’t Hollywood hosted sold-out shows by Dwayne Gretzky and B.A. Johnston.

“Supercrawl is our biggest three days of the year,” said This Ain’t Hollywood co-owner Glen Faulman.

Christ’s Church Cathedral also opened its doors to musicians, young and old, while back patios in places like the Hamilton Store provided some sanctuary from the busy street out front.

“We’re big Hamilton boosters,” said Cindy Scaife who was showing her work along with fellow Toronto artist Rob Croxford on the Hamilton Store patio. “The art community here is very open, very welcoming. There’s more pride here in taking care of the old buildings, more stories here of people trying to save things.”

Croxford had brought with him Hamilton-themed paintings and prints made especially for Supercrawl, including an acrylic collage of local neon signs, such as Hutch’s, the Tivoli and the Millionaire Drive-In.

Although this year’s street art installation may have lacked the punch of previous years, Sandi Hartling’s “Paradise Mirage” became a popular backdrop for photographs and local artist Kyle Stewart’s “Artist Residency” was a hit with curious passersby.

Stewart spent most of the weekend in a small windowed shed where he worked on multiple art projects while chatting with Supercrawlers. Sometimes he would offer them quick caricatures and doodles.

“This has been a great weekend,” Stewart said, while doodling up a sketch of a cartoon character. “I’ve met millions of people. Every few minutes somebody drops by and asks me what I’m doing. I usually ask them if they ever doodle. When was the last time you made a doodle?”