Sunday, August 26, 2012

Riding in Style to the Fringe and Old Strathcona

My favorite festival in the City of Edmonton is also it's largest - The International Fringe Theatre Festival. Even when I used to live in Saskatoon I would occasionally drive the 5 hours to come and hang out. Way back then that was pretty much all I would do though - hang out,  people watch, bar hop, and suck in the ambiance. It wasn't till only a few years ago that I actually started going to shows. This year Chrissy and I were pretty busy during the festival and only took in one show - House of Dopes. It was entertaining, filled with mexicola rock and some weird one liners.

For the last weekend of the festival Chrissy and I headed down to Whyte Ave from the downtown on the trolley car to take in the sights and sounds of the Festival.

Our ride to the site was on the Hannover #601 (vintage 1970) 

For big weekends like the Fringe the Edmonton Radial Railway Society operates two trolley cars on the same line. To avoid pesky little problems like collisions they have a series of procedures in place like the baton system. When the two trolleys meet in locations where the track can accommodate two cars (like the South Side of the High Level Bridge) they pass coloured batons indicating direction of travel. Below you can see the pass off.
Our trolley driver is passing on the blue baton indicating that he has travelled across the bridge and is receiving the yellow baton. If for some reason we return to the bridge before meeting the other trolley we won't cross it as we are in possession of the yellow baton. Only if you have the blue baton can you cross the bridge.

Disembarking in Old Strathcona
First stop - The Farmers Market. For the last couple of years I have been scouring the local farmers markets and greenhouses and harassing the producers looking for white turnips (not purple topped -yuck!). This year I had given up the cause and actually took to growing them in our garden to middling success. Upon entering the market this overcast afternoon I was drawn to a table along the East wall where I spotted the most beautiful white turnips. It was a moment of pure bliss and to commemorate the occasion the lovely lady of August Organics posed for a picture with me.
We wandered around the Fringe site for a while and checked out the discount ticket booth for an impromptu show.  We couldn't decided on anything so we continued to wander coming across this great mural in the alley behind the Wee Book Inn.
After all the walking we needed to re-hydrate so I angled towards the beer gardens across from the Market where we could watch the street performers. After the usual 5-10 minute set-up and build to gather a crowd our performer got to the serious entertainment.


He put on a good show and his helper from the crowd had some great animation in her face enhancing the whole bit. Christina had to look away every once in awhile though as he would pop his shoulder in and out to get through the hoops - at that point the real entertainment is watching Chrissy's face.

Nearing the end of the afternoon we hitched a ride back on the Trolley this time taking the restored Edmonton #33 (vintage 1912) 
I loved the little touches like the visible filaments in the new lights and the old advertisements adorning the interior.


Baton switch - we are getting the blue baton to cross the river.
View from on top of the High Level Bridge.
Arriving at our destination after a 'fruitful' (or vegeful) day.
For me the end of the Fringe marks the end of Summer. But for residents and visitors of Edmonton there is one more week to ride the old trolley cars before they are put away for the winter. If you haven't already done so this year; labour day weekend is your last opportunity. Jump on the trolley while you still can.



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