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The Sharon Temple staff has asked us for a blurb to sum up our event, and I have to say,  this unique festival has grown so much (especially with their help!) that the task is a little daunting.

This festival is a MANIFESTO…

A Manifestival, if you will.

(That actually works — it is a celebration of the work of many hands.)
We are trying to link so many of the things we find important in life:

  • First and foremost, we link the creative impulse and healthy community — stating a commitment to a society where everyone is supported with the basics of a healthy life
  • We link to the work of the York Region Food Network, where they use considerable creativity to generate community gardens, cooking classes, and advocacy work to let us all know that York Region has poverty and hunger and this is simply unacceptable
  • We link to the ideas of the Children of Peace, the founders and builders of the Sharon Temple, who envisioned a democratic and supportive community with music, farmer’s co-ops, schools for young women, equality for everyone — and built this message right into the very structure of the Temple where they gathered to do their community work
  • We link to the idea that creative people are free and resilient, and can make the world a better and more peaceful place
  • We link to the idea that art and artists are important to this project and gives encouragement and thanks to everyone who makes the effort to create something beautiful and life-affirming to offer to the rest of us

We are celebrating people who make things and build community using their bare hands and talents — on June 1st, 2013!
You can come and spend the day without spending a cent — learn a new craft, see some beautiful art, hear amazing music, or make some yourself! Concerts, a drum circle, a collaborative art project, craft workshops and demonstrations of making food and clothing the old-fashioned way — these are all experiences you can have. And if you DO have a cent, there will be the most exciting displays of people’s fine art and craft that you can enjoy and encourage.  Let’s get together and make a wonderful day.

If you have already been to a Spiritfest event and could share YOUR idea of what it was all about, we’d love to hear from you! Help us with a write-up, and a fabulous handmade prize will be yours…. please only post if you’d willingly give us permission to use your words on the website. It will really help us fine tune the message. 🙂
Post it here, or on our Facebook page at

Thanks so much!!!




Spiritfest HAPPENING June 1 2013

Hello All —

Happy to announce we are gearing up to bring you another exciting creative community experience in Sharon, Ontario — SATURDAY, June 1, 2013!!!

One of our staunchest co-conspirators, Jason Pfeiffer, will not be joining us this trip, at least not in the tangible realm. So in his memory, and in tribute to his own considerable creative mojo, we will inaugurate this blog with the words he wrote after his first visit to Spiritfest, in April 2009. If you want to know the philosophy behind Spiritfest, this totally sums it up. We never want to do a Spiritfest without him, so there will definitely be a chair for Jason this year too.

Image   Jason wrote:

“David (Rankine, Celtic artist and festival organizer) calls this kind of thing “open source creativity,” a basic structure where everything just flows and there’s space for everyone involved to contribute and grow – audience and performers, equally and alike. There’s a heavy community-building focus to it, though perhaps in a more intuitive way rather than as an explicitly planned goal. All of us who spent time at Spiritfest and the concert seemed to connect in one way or another, falling into helping roles, enjoying the gifts we had to offer, either as artists, cooks, merchants, performers. It was about the people being there, not about selling stuff.

It was about music functioning in a way other than simple entertainment, which I think is what its all about.

Yesterday was a great day. It was as simple as that.”

Nuff said.

Come and learn about how our mission of “intentional creative community for a day” ties in with the legacy of the Children of Peace, who originally developed a utopian community in Sharon (Hope), Ontario. The whole day is designed to raise awareness and funds for the York Region Community Food Network. We will be talking more about this, and posting details about the fine musicians, artists and artisans who make our day full of special experiences. You and your family will love it! Admission to the historic site is by donation, and although there are amazing things to purchase, you can spend an exciting day participating in creative events without spending one cent.

Now, what do YOU want to bring to Spiritfest this year??

And what do you want to find?

Get in touch!

Spiritfest was an amazing day.

We have lots of people to thank — in no particular order:

Our exhibitors who made the day wonderful and contributed silent auction items

Nick and Serena M for sound equipment and beautiful posters

Megan, Patrick and Gillian H

The staff at Sharon Temple National Historic Site

Alex F for major assistance behind the scenes

Elizabeth Riley Band members Jen and Patricia

Pippa and Judy

Team ABC — stalwart volunteers Alvin, Brian and Christopher

Kieran and Deanna

Vince`s Food Markets for their generous discount for the best produce in a grocery store

Hedgewitch for lovely silent auction items

Joan and Mitchell from the York Region Food Network

Steafan, Saskia and family from Schmooosic

Jason Pfeiffer just for being him

Neale C

Karen MacLeod

David Henman

The Arts Spotlight Theatre Company Inc.

Phil and Wendy from Shaw Percussion and members of the Georgina Drum Circle

We hope people who took photos will share them with us, and here’s to encouraging everyone to keep putting community FIRST. Creativity has always been more important than any dismal science to ensure that we survive and THRIVE and stand up for compassion and shared humanity.

So excited that the big day is finally here!

We had a lovely visit with Jen and Patricia from  the Elizabeth Riley Band, who just came in from Ottawa! And Jen’s family too!

People are coming from fsr and wide — it is going to be so much fun.

Don’t be worrying about the weather either — we are pretty creative people and thanks to the hospitality of the Sharon Temple National Historic Site, we have plenty of indoor spaces to move to. However, the weather reports are improving hourly.

See you in Sharon! This is going to be the BEST Spiritfest yet!

Era-Banner reporter Amanda Persico interviewed festival host Dave Rankine last week, and we really appreciated the help getting the message out — here is the article that appeared in today’s paper:–east-gwillimbury-s-spiritfest-helps-you-make-culture

You can also check out Appalachian Trance Project — Dave Rankine, Janis McCallen and Tom Warney — during their visit to Rogers York Region’s “daytime” show with Elaine Yim-Spencer and Jeff Moore here:



Here’s just a wee bit of the eye candy you can expect to find, among the creative artisans attending Spiritfest!

There’s much, much more than this! So be sure to visit our Artisans Village for one-of-a-kind treasures and surprises, made by some pretty awesome people… more images coming!

Trio of Howlite pendants from Bishop Bead and Wire


Cast precious gold and silver Celtic jewellery by Jason Bellchamber

Freedom Felt garments by Erika, and Pottery by Lisa Pace!

semi-precious wands by Jordanna of “Wands and Whimsy”

“Mother and Child” sculpture by Maia of Forest Friends — made of all natural materials.

Celtic art and calligraphy by David Rankine

Pottery by Lisa Pace

Paul Bishop’s garnet and gold wire pendant

The thing about Spiritfest is that you never know what shape the day will take — people step up and offer workshops that will take you some very interesting places!

This year, we invite you to a day to celebrate creativity! You will walk away knowing more about local history, herbalism, vocal singing, Pictish symbolism, painting, puppetry, feather hair tie-making, buttermaking, weaving, drumming and painting — just to name a few.

There are also a number of artists and artisans who will be working on their projects onsite and would be happy to tell you about it.

There is plenty for the young ones to do — colour their own illuminated initials, create a mandala, make a simple puppet and learn a bit of ventriloquism, make newsprint pots to plant seeds, facepainting, and storytelling. (See KIDS AREA WORKSHOPS below)

There is food available for sale, and until 1pm, the East Gwillimbury Farmer’s Market is in full swing just steps away! Lots of good fresh local food and treats available there, too.

Why not bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy a sweet day on the beautiful grounds of Sharon Temple? Bring your favourite musical instrument, too.

Ongoing through the day are wonderful heritage craft demonstrations by the staff of the Sharon National Historic Site — buttermaking, weaving, and the history of the buildings you see here.

Watch this space for

Spiritfest IV’s Workshops and Demonstrations:

(It may change a bit in the next two weeks, but watch for updates! This is a draft version!)

10:45 Start the day with Janis McCallen’s sound meditation in the Temple — just before the day officially begins

11:00 Feather Hair-tie making with Maia of Forest Friends

11:30 Painting lesson with Mariana Badescu — materials provided

12:00 Performance by Arts Spotlight Theatre Company Inc.

12:30 Edible Weed Foraging Walk with Karen Stephenson of “Edible Wild Foods”

1:00 Pictish Symbolism Explained by Jason Bellchamber of Bellchamber Silver Jewellery

1:30 Women of Rockabilly with Patricia Reynolds of the Elizabeth Riley Band

2:00 Drum Circle with the Georgina Drum Circle, presented by Shaw Percussion

2:30 Vocal Singing with Karen MacLeod inside the Temple

3:00 Performances inside the Temple begin

4:00 Music and poetry continued!

4:30 Music and poetry continued!

5:00 — Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed your day; at 7:30pm there is a concert, so feel free to stay! (Tickets for Appalachian Trance Project concert are $15.00 at the door.)


— Includes a quiet shady area to chill out — bring a blanket!

11:00 Ongoing art projects — colour your own illuminated initial, face-painting, mandala pages

11:30 Make a simple puppet and learn some ventriloquism from Barbara of “Oregano and Friends”

12:00 Hear the story of “Stone Soup”

12:30 Planter Pot Make-and-Take: recycle newspaper to make a planter pot for your own sunflower or bean seed!

Please visit our Silent Auction Table where our participants have generously donated items — and remember that we can provide tax receipts for financial donations to the York Region Food Network!

Getting to know our Performers

We are honoured to be joined this year by a stellar array of musicians from a variety of genres, coming from near and far to share their original and well-loved music with you. This year, the all-day performances will happen inside the Sharon Temple, which is famous for its perfect acoustics and tradition of music as a community spiritual experience.

Not a bad seat in the house! Loreena McKennitt even recorded “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” here recently… and it’s our musical home — and YOURS — for the whole day!

All the musicians have offered their talents to us in support of the York Region Food Network and the message of the day, that creativity is what brings humans together and keeps us human. You can show your support by purchasing their CDs and merchandise at the show!

Returning from previous Spiritfests are:

Clan Hannigan! Steafan Hannigan and Saskia Tomkins, based in Baltimore east of Toronto, and their lovely kids, are bringing songs, dance and instruments along with them.

They operate a business called Schmooosic — between them, they play and teach more instruments than you’ve even heard of, I bet. Heard of a nyckelharpa before? Nope, me neither. It’s just a treat to hear them perform. Both Steafan and Saskia play in many ensembles, and are in great demand as teachers and session musicians, playing folk trad and more eclectic genres.You can check out their websites and hear their music at these links:

just search”Steafan Hannigan” on YouTube for hours of musical enjoyment…

Saskia in “2ish”

Singer/songwriter David Henman will be familiar to you — he was one of the founding members of April Wine, along with his brother Ritchie, cousin Jim and surviving member Myles Goodwyn. David was with the band from its inception in 1969 until 1973.
He played on the first three albums, and one of his songs, “Drop Your Guns”, was a top-forty hit in Canada, resulting in David receiving three platinum and two gold albums.
David moved to Toronto in 1986, and became the editor of Canadian Musician magazine for several years. As a journalist, he has interviewed everyone from Leonard Cohen and Celine Dion to Henry Rollins and Dwight Yoakam.

In 2010 David was inducted, along with past and former members of April Wine, into the Juno Awards Canadian Music Hall of Fame. On October 2nd, 2010, David joined April Wine on stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at the CNE in Toronto for a sold out performance.

David brings his love of live performance, 100% original material and a track record of amazing songs for you to enjoy.

Karen MacLeod has a truly soaring and beautiful voice, and a brand new CD of her own material, called “Charmed.” We were charmed ourselves to have her join us for Spiritfest II, when she and Jason Pfeiffer played as “Gaedelica” — a transformative musical experience which set the prayers of the Carmina Gaedelica to music. We are so glad she is back! And I need a copy of that Charmed CD! I really hope she will sing “The Mist Covered Mountains” for us. Her rendition of it spooked me for a week. In the best possible way. She is offering a vocal workshop during the day that will be VERY exciting.


Karen MacLeod and Jason Pfeiffer as “Gaedelica”

The Elizabeth Riley Band hails from Ottawa, Ontario and probably wins the award for longest Spiritfest commute! We are thrilled to have them with us!

“Ottawa-based Elizabeth Riley Band has a raw, contagious sound, with original songs and interpretations inspired by bluegrass harmonies, folk classics, and alt and traditional country music.

It’s the Elizabeth Riley Band Montage!!!

Wielding banjo, acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, djembe, stand-up snare and a porch board, these four singer-songwriters speak out about personal, social and political realities.  Their songs are infused with women’s lived experience.” And they have so much fun onstage!!!

They are Carmel Whittle, Sarah Ryan, Patricia Reynolds, and Jen Gilbert — and Patricia Reynolds will be offering a workshop on “Women of Rockabilly” which I am personally excited about — love rockabilly, but it’s pretty guy-dominated! To hear the music and learn more about the muse who inspired this band, visit  You can also find their performance videos on YouTube here: and on Facebook!

Neale Croucher is a local hero to us, a political activist and thinker with strong ties to the natural world. His first CD, Coastline, features his original songwriting and photography, creating “Soundscapes for the Soul.”  He was essential to the organization of Spiritfest III , designing and building a customized stage that has multimedia capability! There is great depth of meaning and nature-based wisdom in his music, and we are really looking forward to hearing him again, this time in the Temple itself.

Neale Croucher’s “Coastline” is voyage for the spirit.

And then… there’s the Appalachian Trance Project, an ensemble of musicians drawn together by their love of improvisation and fusion of old bluegrass and new Persian funk trance. They are: Janis McCallen, Tom Warney, Dave Rankine, Fernando Villalobos and Jason Pfeiffer. Difficult to define their sound — but you never leave in quite the same place as you arrived.

Janis McCallen and Tom Warney have studied and performed authentic Appalachian style folk music in the local area for decades, and bring a warmth and spiritual dimension to the group, along with the very trippy sound of a Shrutibox! Janis also creates intuitive and creative lyrics for the soundscapes of the group. For some of the background of their journey with music, check out

Jason Pfeiffer is a Juno award-nominating instrumentalist (for his work with HAWP), plays in many wonderful trad folk and Celtic ensembles, and is in great demand as a teacher of Irish Flute at Riverside Celtic College and other schools. You can learn about just some of his recorded adventures at his website: Although he can’t join us this year, we are overjoyed to dedicate this entire festival to him, since he has been at every previous Spiritfest and made a huge contribution to our happiness at every one of them.

Jason Pfeiffer on Irish Flute

Dave Rankine, although previously known merely as an outstanding contemporary Celtic visual artist, is also now known as a musician, educator and healer. He has launched three previous Spiritfest events, runs a regular pay-what-you-can creativity workshop called The Mandala Experience, and created a number of CDs with music designed to facilitate creativity, energy work and healing. There`s too much to tell! So why not visit his website at and treat yourself to a visual and musical feast…

You can check out their music at and join them for an evening concert in the Sharon Temple, after Spiritfest ends at 5pm. Tickets are $15.00 and silent auction winners will be announced at intermission.


You can help by downloading this gorgeous poster and circulating it!

Designed by Serena M — we love it. 🙂



The generous exhibitors and performers at Spiritfest always make the day unique — we never know what shape it will take until the moment arrives.

This kind of alchemy is pretty cool to watch. Cooler, even, is the chance to be part of it.

There are amazing performances in the Sharon Temple throughout the day, and a drum circle at 2pm presented by the Georgina Drum Circle and Shaw Percussion. Come and play music with
“Schmoosic” — Steafan Hannigan, Saskia Tomkins et famille.

This year, an interesting theme has emerged — of food, producing food, preserving food, and finding food where you least expect it! These were not trivial issues for the Children of Peace, who built the Sharon Temple in the 1820s, nor is it a trivial issue for some of us in York Region today. It goes well with the work of the York Region Food Network which we support. I hope everyone will help by filling out their survey while you are visiting!

AN INCOMPLETE LIST OF WORKSHOPS for Spiritfest IV, June 2, Sharon National Historic Site:

Feather hair tie making — by Maia of Forest Friends

Women of rockabilly — by Patricia of the Elizabeth Riley Band

Intro to painting — by Mariana Badescu (small canvas and materials provided!)

Pictish symbolism — by Jason of Bellchamber Silver Jewellery

Edible Weed Foraging — by Karen of Edible Wild Food

Make your own simple puppet and try ventriloquism — by Barbara Phoenix of Oregano and Friends

Butter-making (very kid suitable!) — by Michaela of Sharon Temple National Historic Site

Sharon Temple tour — by Megan of Sharon Temple National Historic Site

Weaving demonstration — by Dorrie, Sharon Temple National Historic Site

York Region Food Charter and Survey — TBA, York Region Food Network

— and feel free to visit our vendors in the Artisans Village, many of whom will be actively creating their work onsite.

Drop by Paul’s booth at Bishop Bead and Wire and watch him create a beautiful gem pendant!

Shaw Percussion will let you try a drum out!

The good folks at Schmooosic, Steafan and Saskia, play more instruments than I knew existed!

Some services are available for a fee, such as Tarot readings by The Hedgewitch people and henna art by Judy. All kid activities are free! Find the kids’ colouring corner and colour your initial to take home, hear a story, plant a bean seed, or become part of the collaborative art mural. Maybe tell your own favourite story!

It is an intentional community-for-a-day designed to celebrate the gathering together of people and their particular gifts — which, if we all shared what we could, would make the world a much better, peaceful place, where everyone has what they need.

More details coming! What are YOU bringing to Spiritfest?