Annual Back Alley Tour continues to grow in Melfort

Photo courtesy Tara Muntain Local artist Linsey Levendahl began work on a new mural on the wall behind TJ's Pizza in Melfort during the Back Alley Tour on July 20. The annual event brings artists from around the province to the back alley behind Northern Lights Gallery and continues to grow each year

Artists were on full display in a back alley in Melfort on July 20 as the 7th Annual Back Alley Tour took over a back alley.

The annual event takes place in the back alley behind Northern Lights Gallery, and the 2023 version was the biggest and best yet. Event organizer and Northern Lights Gallery owner Sandra Dancey explained that the goal is to get like-minded artists together to show off their work, and with artists from Prince Albert, Nipawin, Tisdale and Melfort and beyond in attendance, she’s confident it will continue to grow.

“It’s growing ever so slightly every year, which is really nice. So we were creeping up towards 40 in total, well we were over 40 if you want to count all the artists and the buskers and the different places like North East SPCA that provide food for the day. So yeah, there were quite a few different venues,” Dancey said

The Northeast SPCA supplied food for the day and the nearby Melfort Legion provided meals as well. There was also a new local business My Galaxy Treats a mobile ice cream business adding to the event.

This year was the seventh annual but the event officially started nine years ago.

The number of artists is also increasing every year for the event.

” It was over 30. I don’t actually have a number, but it’s increasing every year, so call it mid to high thirties for numbers of artists,” Dancey said.

As well local artist Linsey Levendahl began a new mural project on the back wall of TJ’s Pizza and local artist Carla Tyacke is doing a piece on the back door of the Northern Lights Gallery.

“There’s interest from other businesses. We’re working towards having a back alley gallery here and we’re not copying Saskatoon. We had this idea quite a few years ago but we’re just a little slow on the uptake, so we’re getting there,”

This was the seventh year but should have been the eighth because

There is always entertainment and this year there was a buskers stage which was also assisted by another community partner, Prairie North Co-op. They also sponsored a $500 Back Alley Tour Scholarship to a student from MUCC, Princess Bagsit, who was overseas and could not receive the scholarship in person.

“She was just quite happy and somewhat impressed that she received it,” Dancey said.

The Melfort Fire Department also stopped by to offer a spray on the day.

The number of new artists for this year’s edition also impressed Dancey.

Northern Lights Gallery Photo Blacksmith Ramsey Rude was among the artists taking part in the Back Alley Tour in Melfort on July 20.

“Well insomuch that there were quite a few new artists this year which was really nice because it’s a pretty high calibre level of work. So that’s what you need to get out here and see. There are ones like Ramsey’s Custom Blacksmithing (from Canwood) was new this year and he does incredible work,” Dancey said.

Another new artist was Sochaski Designs from Waldheim.

“They seem very pleased with it. They have many customers in this neighbourhood, but they’ve never actually been to anything like that out here. So they were very happy about it.

“She’s getting more familiar with doing festivals and as a result, she’s got a following. So it’s nice there just there was a really good turnout and everyone seemed to be having a very good time,”

The project originally began as part of Main Street Melfort as a revitalization project. The Main Street Melfort program was suspended in 2017 and Main Street Melfort folded as a downtown revitalization organization.

Northern Lights Gallery Photo Artists showed their wares and conducted demonstrations during the Back Alley Tour in Melfort on July 20.

“That’s why then when that was finished that I was left holding the bag, which is fine. But I kept it going but the hope was that it eventually would be a Chamber-sanctioned event, which that is what is turning into. So I now plan this in conjunction with (Melfort Trade Alliance Chamber of Commerce Executive Director) Cal (Gratton) and it will slowly just become a Chamber event and I’ll still help with everything. But it should be a neutral, nonprofit organization running it.”

Dancey thanked the supporters of the event.

“It’s nice to have the support of the sponsors that we do, Prairie North Co-op is always a fantastic supporter of it, but just appreciate it, and the Legion and the SPCA and Youth Matter and the City of Melfort are always very helpful. And we’ve got a pretty good solid core of extremely helpful volunteers and that helps to get more community members out because we have such positive feedback from the people that are involved with it,” Dancey said.