Arts and music festival ‘Supercrawl’ this weekend in downtown Hamilton

A photo from James Street in Hamilton Ont. during the 2022 Supercrawl event. The 2023 event kicks off Friday. Global News

James Street North and several artery roads in Hamilton’s downtown core are now closed making way for the 15th anniversary of Supercrawl which gets underway Friday night.

The city’s popular music and arts festival returns this weekend with headliners Broken Social Scene, The Flatliners, and Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace with Chantal Kreviaziuk.

Organizers say a tribute to hip-hop will also be a marquee event Saturday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the music genre.

“We would’ve never had a whole stage that was just hip-hop, we’d sprinkle it into different stages,” says Tim Potocic, Sonic Unyon co-owner and Supercrawl founder.

“But now with the anniversary of the genre, we thought it’s the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Close to 200,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event on James Street North which will include visual artists, theatre performances, fashion and craft vendors and food trucks.

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Supercrawl began in 2009 as a showcase of Hamilton’s culture and eclectic arts landscape using an art walk model.

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It was to be a one-year experiment seeking to revitalize a slumping downtown experiencing a decline in foot traffic.

Over that time Potocic says the spectacle has evolved, requiring more “long-term planning” of three to five years than it did in its first couple years of existence.

“Year one was a total experiment — ‘Let’s just try to do something downtown, see what happens,'” Poticic remembers.

“Then it evolved into its second and third year, where we took a little bit more time to plan, spent a little bit more money, and then basically evaluated it as things were going.”

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He says that “weirdly,” the core appears to be back in a similar position due to the recent pandemic.

“We really got kicked in the ‘you know what’ during COVID and downtown has taken a bit of a beating,” Potocic says.

“It needs that energy to bring it back again, so I’m happy to be there and to continue to do that and help it evolve into the future.”

The full music lineup can be seen on the Supercrawl website, along with timelines for other events.

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