Stewart Park Festival will donate photo, video fee proceeds to cancer society - BIA Update The Piano in the Park group's "Gord Downie Piano," will make a Perth Courier By Desmond Devoy Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie probably won't be playing the Stewart Park Festival this July – but his piano will likely be a star attraction. Perth town council’s committee of the whole meeting heard on Tuesday, March 7, that the Pianos in the Park community group’s “Gord Downie Tribute Piano,” will be visiting the festival during its July 14-16 run. According to the group’s Facebook page, the piano was designed by artist Jodi Melissa Deguire. It will “commemorate Gord Downie and his years of music,” said Kari Clarke, co-ordinator of the Downtown Heritage Perth Business Improvement Area (BIA). “(The piano will) commemorate Gord Downie and his years of music." Kari Clarke, coordinator of the Downtown Heritage Perth Business Improvement Area Downie is fighting a rare and terminal brain cancer. For a fee, you can get your photo taken beside the piano, and/or get a video of you playing the piano. A third of the money collected from these fees will pay for the transportation of the piano, a third will go to the Canadian Cancer Society, and a third would normally go to the host community. But Clarke stated firmly that “we won’t take any money from this. It will go back to the cancer society.” There are also bike and canoe tours that the BIA is looking at adding to its list of events at the festival, which was recently awarded the distinction as one of Ontario’s top 100 festivals. “That’s very prestigious, knowing the number of music festivals in Ontario,” said Mayor John Fenik. “Congratulations to everybody.” The BIA has already held two festival planning meetings, and they hope to make the event more accessible. The festival will be partnering with the YAK youth club to create a “Be In The Band,” initiative, to give kids “aged 11 to 17, about 12 weeks of musical instruction and an opportunity to perform on the Youth Showcase Stage at the festival,” acco While the festival is the most high profile of the BIA’s events, other year-long events are already gearing up. Starting this month (Saturday, March 25 to be exact, followed by May 29 and Nov. 17) the BIA will host “Progressive Dinner Parties,” at three restaurants. The March menu includes Michael’s Table, The Stone Cellar and The Sunflower Bake Shop. A fundraising event, still in the planning stages, is still being worked on for September. The Festival of Good Cheer retail shopping event in November was so successful that “we actually ran short of bags,” said Clarke, which was a good sign since more than 200 red bags were handed out to make shoppers consider downtown stores as part of their annual Christmas shopping. “Strong sales were reported from the event.” While last year’s Christmas lights were a success, the BIA will be asking area businesses if they would consider sponsoring trees for Christmas 2017. There were 41 Christmas trees decorated in 2016, with 46 businesses having signed up for 2017. Looking ahead to the summer time, four Adirondack chairs will be added to the downtown streetscape “to encourage people to come downtown, the place to be, to hang out, yes shop, but (also to) spend time with each other.” Deputy Mayor John Gemmell said the “chair idea is good,” and he saw a similar program getting people out of their cars in Brockville. On a more dollars-and-cents level, the levy rate was increased by seven per cent, but in the deal a second newsletter will be added to circulation, going out monthly. Also in terms of reaching out, Clarke said communications and relations between the BIA and the Perth and District Chamber of Commerce is growing stronger. “Communication appears to be working very well,” with the BIA attending chamber board meetings. The BIA will host open-house events in April and August, and will host their annual general meeting in November. “It’s awfully nice to see the chamber and the BIA working together,” said Coun. Jim Graff.