Hillside 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013


Written by Chris Carr


Guelph’s love letter to itself has finished for another year. This was the thirtieth years of Hillside and as it lays dormant, destined to roar again next summer, what has Hillside become?

Just like anyone who’s recently turned 30, it’s important to take stock of your assets, your short-coming and reassess what your goals are. It’s a milestone, once passed the experimental twenties, the festival should be settled into its niche, eager to welcome others into its life.

What a life its lead: local food and artisans pushing their wears to throngs of hungry and collective Guelphites and honorary Guelphites (if even for a fortnight).  The usuals came out, the Salsateria, Lemon Grass Thai and Studs and Spuds—the be-all and end-all for thinly sliced and fried potatoes that beg to be crammed as quickly into your mouth as possible.

The Artisan Market, an argent array of wooden tchotchkes and finely crafted trinkets, was out in full tie-died form. Each booth shone with their own idea of importance and Hillside attitude. Art abounds, speckling each corner of the event, as always, begging to be taken home to splash your living room with a zest of the eclectic.

Holding true to their mission statement, the most impressive function of Hillside was the legion of volunteers, cleaning, scrubbing, lifting and collecting like sweaty Oompa-loompas. The festival would not be the pedigree it enjoys without the dauntless efforts of each of them.

Speaking to many patrons of the event, asking what brought them to the festival, an over-whelming majority of Hillsiders cited the event itself as the reason to brave the crowds. It seems Hillside, entering its dirty-thirties, has become a reason in itself, perpetuating and reproducing asexually furthering its philosophies and mantras to anyone in earshot.

This shines through when we see the musicians lined up to give the gift of auditory elucidation to the congregation Hillside has built. To say that fame has got to Hillside is a gross misrepresentation. With hardly an arena-worthy band on the docket, it seems the organizers of Hillside understand the music is only a small slice of the peace-pie. At thirty, Hillside seems to have a great idea of self.

Their in lies Hillside’s wisdom, at this ripe old age teetering on mid-life: It knows itself. As many music festivals grow, so does the user base. And don’t be fooled into thinking Hillsiders aren’t addicted to the festival, as they are sharing the love, that accounts for the crowds ever-growing each year on the island. Hillside looks into the mirror, stretches its crows-feet, checks its less-than-white teeth and loves itself for these birthmarks and carries them forward.

Frankly, it wouldn’t be surprising to have some old-school Hillsiders upset if, say, next year, Radiohead fronted the bill. That’s not what the Hillside is about and it has enough self-aware chutzpah to infect its patrons with warm vibration like a good Kombucha.

So, as this year’s Hillside, the quintessence of all-things Guelphy, gracefully and wisely turns thirty, it closes with a grand idea of self that will hopefully go on for another thirty years.

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