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The Beacon Herald
Culture Days opens hearts, minds
By LAURA CUDWORTH, Stratford Beacon Herald

LAURA CUDWORTH The Beacon Herald
Rachel Schieldrop, 8, does an 'interpretive dance' with a ribbon outside Factory 163 at Culture Days on Saturday morning during a music presentation.

Rachel Schieldrop, 8, does an 'interpretive dance' with a ribbon outside Factory163 at Culture Days on Saturday morning during a music presentation.

Culture doesn't have to be highfalutin and inaccessible. It could be as simple as a beautifully made cookie or as ethnically significant as Highland dancing or Tai Chi.

Culture in all its possible forms occupied every corner of Factory163 all weekend as part of Culture Days. There was a puppet show -- all the puppets were made by John Powers who also wrote the material -- a bake sale, dance, music, theatre, paintings, faux food and a human library, just to name a few. In all there were 70 different ways to participate.

"One does art out of a love for it. The point of Culture Days is to invite people into that and for people to recognize all the culture around them. If we don't cherish and nurture it, we'll lose it," said Culture Days coordinator Eileen Smith.

This was the third Culture Days, a national event to promote arts and culture from coast to coast.

Maybe eight-year-old Rachel Schieldrop summed it up best after spontaneously choreographing her own ribbon dance on the lawn outside Factory 163.

"I just like the music," she said. "I'm really enjoying it."

Her mother Tamar Tsafnat said culture and art are the foundation of education providing inspiration and concentration.

"Kids are so in tune with music and dance and do it so freely. They're not inhibited to express themselves. The more they do it the more comfortable they are with themselves," she said.

Peggy Andrews wanted to try out the green screen operated by Fanshawe College students that made it look as though she were flying over the city.

"She's never looked so relaxed while driving," her husband Robert Andrews quipped.

He's a photographer and that's what prompted his interest in attending Culture Days.

"Culture is entertaining. It stimulates your mind and your imagination. People can show off their talents. If you never get to show it, what's the point?" he said.

The event is a grassroots movement and it's free.

There's been growth from year to year, but organizers are still facing challenges.

"People still don't know what it is," Smith said.

Regardless, Smith said the weekend was "spectacular."

Smith won't be taking much of a break. She'll be organizing SpringWorks, another festival which takes place in May. To apply go to