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St. Thomas, Ont. murals taking centre stage at city-wide festival Saturday

The mural "All Are My Relatives" by artist Nancy Deleary located at the St. Thomas Public Library. Credit: Railway City Tourism

St. Thomas’ many artistic murals will be the focus of a city-wide festival this Saturday.

The event, the Track to the Future Mural Festival, runs Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., organized by Railway City Tourism in partnership with the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation.

The day-long festival will feature live entertainment, artisan, drink and food vendors, immersive and interactive art, and more at locations across the city, organizers say.

The festival is to highlight the various murals that have popped up in the city as part of the Track to the Future Mural Project, launched back in 2019.

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There are more than 30 murals on building exteriors and old rail cars in the city, according to festival organizers. On Saturday, several new murals will be added to the list, painted by artists including Andrew Lewis, Denial, Derkz, Emilie Darlington and Steph Boutari.

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“We have a lot of completed murals that are on a tour for people to see, but also live painting is happening tomorrow at different sites throughout St. Thomas, so you can see the process of the murals being created,” said Megan Pickersgill, tourism manager with the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation, in an interview on London Live with Mike Stubbs on Friday.

“We’ve got art installations, we’ve got live music, beer gardens, food trucks and everything that you could possibly want to do, all spread around St. Thomas at different activity hubs.”

The main hub of the festival will be located at Railway City Tourism’s headquarters on Talbot Street in the replica London and Port Stanley Line railway station. Several neighbourhood hubs will be located across the city, including at 38 Parkside Dr. and 135 Wellington St., both along the Whistlestop Trail, as well as at 1 Centre St. and 367 Talbot St.

Events are also slated to run at the Elgin County Railway Museum, Horton Farmer’s Market, and Railway City Brewing, dubbed the “Food Lovers Route.”

“For kids, we’ve got Splash’N Boots coming (to) downtown St. Thomas to our downtown Central Stage … after that we’ve got The Pairs, we’ve got some local musicians playing” — Griffin Noriega and Nick Ewanick — “and the Caverners Beatles Tribute will hit the stage at 7 p.m. to cap off the day.”

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Live mural painting is expected to run throughout the day at the five main festival hubs, as well as Horton Farmer’s Market, according to organizers. Each location will also have various offerings, including art exhibits, food and drink vendors, and live entertainment.

“Believe it or not, muralist is a career for these people. They’re exceptionally talented. I just can’t believe the quality of talent that they’re pumping out these murals. They’re so good at it,” Pickersgill said.

Every mural painted as part of the project has a different theme, but each one tells a bit of the story of the city of St. Thomas, she said.

“We’re trying to look (forward) rather than backwards, which, you know, we’ve done for a lot of years celebrating our railway heritage, which is still an amazing asset,” Pickersgill said.

“But we also want to think about what St. Thomas looks like five years down the road. Ten years down the road. What do the kids here want to see in their own hometown? That’s what we were talking with that title, Track to the Future.”

A full list of events and locations can be found on the festival’s website.

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