Dooryard Arts Festival Expands Scope in its Fourth Year

Rose Cousins

Organizers of Woodstock’s Dooryard Arts Festival say this year’s event – to be held between August 8th and 11th – will draw on talent from across North America.

The festival was founded by the River Valley Arts Alliance (RiVA) in 2009 as a way for the non-profit organization to offer artists and musicians with ties to the region an opportunity to showcase their talents. But in the intervening three years, the Dooryard Arts Festival has enjoyed a growing reputation outside of the area.

“We’ve never spent a lot on advertising relative to bigger festivals,” said Geoff Stairs, Dooryard co-founder and RiVA president. “What we’ve been really happy to see is the organic way that word about the festival has spread throughout the Maritimes.”

Stairs said the increased visibility has allowed organizers to approach artists from outside the immediate area to complement the week’s programming.

“We’re still focused on exposing local talent,” he continued, “but now we have a great opportunity to expose our own community to some of the things happening outside.”

Among the diverse musical headliners confirmed for the fourth annual festival are Perth-Andover native Matt Andersen, Boston-based folk musician Rose Cousins, Edmonton hip-hop artist Cadence Weapon, Fredericton-born tenor Derrick Paul Miller, and New Brunswick alt-music scene matriarch Julie Doiron.

Matt Anderson

Stairs said that keeping programming for the festival unfettered by a particular style or genre is an important consideration for the organizers.

“We try very hard to make Dooryard inclusive,” he said. “We want there to be something for almost everyone. Our only criterion is quality – and there’s no shortage of that.”

The early-August festival will also include exhibits by local and regional visual artists. Since year one, organizers have approached businesses in Woodstock’s downtown about offering up their spaces as temporary, walkthrough art galleries. The venues shuffle each year and add to the festival atmosphere in the small town.

Participating visual artists this year include comic book artist Adam Atherton, painter Donna Smallenberg, photographer Joël Culligan, painter Mallory Driscoll, and mixed-media artist and ArtsLink NB executive director Sara Griffin.

Repeat highlights this year will include a public workshop series directed by professional artists and the return of the festival’s popular Saturday marketplace. The open-air market features local artists, craftspeople, growers, and other organizations displaying their wares along Woodstock’s historic Queen Street.

A limited number of $65 early bird festival passes are on sale now via The passes will grant access to all ticketed events throughout the course of the week – a value of about $120. Once the early bird passes are sold out, regular passes will be available at a cost of $80.

For more information about the 2012 Dooryard Arts Festival, visit