The Back Alley Tour in Melfort, which took place on July 21, has grown steadily since it began seven years ago.
The annual event takes place in the back alley behind Northern Lights Gallery, and the 2022 version was the biggest and best yet. Event organizer and Northern Lights Gallery owner Sandra Dancey said the goal is to get like-minded artists together to show off their work, and with artists from Prince Albert, Nipawin, Tisdale and Melfort in attendance, she’s confident it did just that.
“It’s been growing slightly every year so this is the biggest one yet as far as the number of artists and I honestly never did do a total headcount but there were approximately 40 artists here from the northeast,” Dancey explained.
She said that the crowds were steady all day and they expanded to bring in more community partners. The big addition this year was having the Melfort Youth Evolution and Youth Matter Melfort take part.
“They had a children’s festival going on, which is a really nice thing to have for the younger couples that had come to this, because there is something for their kids to do too,” she said.
“It’s always nice when the weather cooperates. It was a beautiful day for it. It was perfect.”
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, Ava Hetchler.
This is the first time they’ve awarded a scholarship, and Dancey said it’s going to become an annual contribution.
The scholarship is available to high school students enrolled in an arts-oriented program. It doesn’t have to be a Bachelor of Fine Arts necessarily, but it has to be centred around the arts.
Hetchler will attend the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Arts and Science in the fall.
“She was part of the drama club here in Melfort, so she and a friend put on a little skit, like a four-minute performance, which was really nice,” Dancey said.
The Melfort Fire Department also stopped by to offer a spray on the day.
Dancey said that the hope is for the event to continue to grow.
“I like that it’s growing,” she said. “It’s nice that it is doing what it is doing, and the hope is that it continues to grow. We don’t want it to get crazy big, but we do like to promote all of the artists in the neighbourhood.”
She explained that if the event continues to grow, they can always expand to another alley.
“It was a bit breezy but the mosquito population has made it such that it is nice to have a little bit of a breeze,” she said.
This year was the sixth annual but the event officially started seven years.
‘Every year there are more people coming who haven’t heard of it before. It’s catching on, more people are learning about it and it’s getting a lot of positive feedback and people are enjoying it,” Dancey said.
The Back Alley Tour was supported by the Melfort Trade Alliance Chamber of Commerce and other sponsors.