Summer Fling graffiti festival returns to Saskatoon

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Graffiti Event takes place on Saturday July 26 at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge

Ever watch two dozen graffiti artists rocking out on a 150 foot wall in an alleyway? If you haven’t you’ll get your chance this weekend.

Now celebrating its eighth year, the Summer Fling graffiti festival is once again descending upon Saskatoon. The event also brings along with several nights of hip-hop performances, including the Def3 and Factor Wildlif3 album release party.

Summer Fling Saskatoon

Bringing in over dozens of artists from across Western Canada as well as Los Angeles, the festival is a chance for audiences to see the process of the graffiti in addition to the end result, says promoter Nick Racine. The first Summer Fling happened in Saskatoon in 2005. Racine said that while he was aware of graffiti shows going on in Eastern Canada at the time there were few like-minded festivals going on annually in Saskatchewan, prompting him and his friends to spearhead their own event.

“I am a little fuzzy on exactly what went down that year but I do recall Thesis Sahib and Cadence Weapon performed and the turnout was relatively small,” says Racine on the premiere event. “There was no real motivation for doing it except that no one else was doing it. If I wasn’t doing it I would be wishing someone else was.”

Summer Fling Saskatoon

The event eventually ballooned in 2007 when the festival spanned five nights, and brought in internationally-renowned performers.

“DJ Heywood was planning on throwing a show and rap battle the same weekend so we amalgamated the events, including one night up at Waskesiu with a rap show at the bar [and a] Monday night performances by Masta Ace and Del The Funky Homosapien,” says Racine.

Since then he has taken a somewhat more relaxed approach with the event, but, after putting the event on hiatus after being away for two years in 2010 and 2011, Racine says that he is excited to see the art gain momentum in Saskatoon.

“Graffiti is popular and lots of people are doing it everywhere,” he says. “People you wouldn’t expect to be doing it are doing it. For the most part graffiti artists live in a bubble as far as identifying themselves as graffiti artists and most of the good ones, or at least the ones I care to know, aren’t out there flaunting it in front of the media.

“This event is basically for graffiti writers to enjoy a weekend with other graffiti writers. For me the success of the graffiti event isn’t contingent on the public showing up or the mainstream media giving it any attention; it’s that writers came and had a good time painting and meeting other writers. I know if I had an interest in graffiti and questions about how graffiti pieces were executed, this event would certainly be on my radar as something I should check out.”

The graffiti event takes place on Saturday July 26 at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge – 602 20th Street West – from 10am-6pm, with DJ Weezl holding it down on the turntables.

The first festival show takes places on Friday July 25 at Vangelis Tavern, with Def3 and Factor, Parab Poet and the Hip Hop Hippies, Kay the Aquanaut and Cam the Wiz. The second show goes down on Saturday July 26 at Amigos Cantina with Chaps, Neila, Thesis Sahib and Matre.

– All photos courtesy of Nick Racine