Westboro gets ready to shift into ‘festival mode’ with Fuse

Fire weaver Sophie Latreille lights up the night during last year’s Fuse Street festival. Photo by Ted Simpson

By Charlie Senack –

With record crowds expected for the Westboro Fuse Street Festival, the neighbourhood’s biggest party of the year is also expected to mean big business for local merchants. 

The two-day event, which will see Richmond Road closed to vehicle traffic from Roosevelt to McRae avenues, runs from Aug. 17-18.

Local business leaders say the mix of live music performances and fun, family-friendly activities is not only an opportunity to showcase Westboro’s merchants, but also to introduce new people to the community.

“From a business perspective, not everyone will have business improvement over those few days because people are coming for a … festival and they are here in festival mode,” says Michelle Groulx, executive director of the Westboro Village BIA. “However, brand exposure and having their business exposed to thousands of people who come to the festival is wonderful for them.”

This year’s festival will feature live music performances taking place on the main stage, with some big acts coming in from across Canada–including Vancouver-based alt-rock darlings Odds, known for 1990s hits such as Someone Who’s Cool, and Tragically Hip tribute band Road Apples, who hail from the Hip’s hometown of Kingston.

“I’d like to say we have bigger and better acts this year, but definitely not better because we have had some amazing musical entertainment in the past,” Groulx notes.

Many local shops and businesses will also be hosting games and events lining the road, and many buskers and street performers will be wowing the crowds.

One of the newest additions to the festival this year is a roller disco, which is being provided by Neon Skates, one of Westboro’s newest up-and-coming businesses.

Originally founded in Montreal, Neon Skates decided to move to Westboro in January in an effort to get more people in Ottawa on roller skates. The business also teaches classes, offering lessons in everything from traditional roller skating to “roller dancing.”

“I think being a part of the Westboro Fuse Festival is going to be really fun because there is something really special in roller skating for people who did it growing up or did it in the past,” says Melanie Tayler of Neon Skates. “There is something really neat about families doing it with their kids now.”

The roller skating rink will be located right outside of the Roosevelt Avenue entrance to the festival, just steps away from the Barley Mow. 

Staff at the popular gastropub say they were expecting a significant boost in customer traffic during the two-day festival. To accommodate the crowds, they are setting up a patio on the street to complement their rooftop patio and will open a walk-up grab-and-go window offering food and cold drinks.

After the festival official program ends at 11 p.m on Saturday night, the Barley Mow will host an after-party, where patrons can enjoy the rooftop patio, food and performances from acoustic bands.

Westboro Fuse will run from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18. Organizers say detours for cars will be in place, and OC Transpo’s route 11 buses will be rerouted to avoid the street closure.

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