Hamilton’s premiere festival ‘Supercrawl’ kicks off this weekend

Hamilton’s premiere festival ‘Supercrawl’ kicks off this weekend


The 11th edition of Hamilton’s premiere weekend-long multi-arts festival Supercrawl will kick off Friday evening in Hamilton’s downtown.

The event, which incorporates indie music with art, fashion, literature, and theatre, will turn James Street into a pedestrian-only zone bound by King Street South, MacNab Street North, Hughson Street North and Murray Street.

Tim Potocic, the director of Supercrawl, says what the event has turned into over the past 10 years was not really what he had in mind for the event.

“The plan was just an experiment to see if we could get some more people to come downtown,” Potocic told Global News.

In the early days, Potocic said the downtown core was not what is now and that the idea spawned from “momentum” in the city’s art scene, which went on to spur a number of other potential ideas for a future version of the event.

“We had a tonne of community buy-in. Like, some really great people down here on James and surrounding streets and artists in the neighbourhood that really bought into it.” Potocic said.

“We put our necks out and I think other people realize they’re like wow these guys are actually spending their own money to make something happen down here. It was a little bit of a rally cry.”

LISTEN: Supercrawl director Tim Potocic talks to Global News Scott Thompson about the 11th edition of Supercrawl


The event has grown organically over the past 10 years from a modest one-day event on a single street block to a multi-day production encompassing two kilometres of roadway.

Attendance has also grown steadily over the past 10 years, attracting over 250,000 in 2018 compared to the estimated 3,000 that checked it out in 2009.

The event has made Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals/Events for five consecutive years and was reported to have had a $16.7 million economic impact on the city in 2018, according to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport.

Despite those successes, Supercrawl found itself scrambling this past spring, trying to replace $275,000 in lost provincial funding when the Doug Ford government opted to cut the $15 million Ontario Music Fund by more than half.

“We were quite surprised and shocked, quite frankly,” Potocic said when first hearing of the funding cut.

“There was definitely about a month and a half to two months of panic over here as far as what we were going to do.”

Supercrawl organizers did eventually overcome the hurdle, successfully lobbying the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport to keep funding the event.

“They did a sort of 360 on some of the funding to some of the larger festivals and midsized festivals,” said Potocic. “We were very satisfied with the outcome as it allows us to do the same thing that we’ve always done and not have to make any drastic changes to the festival.”

The 2019 festival runs Friday through Sunday and features four performance stages with 62 music acts including Buffy Sainte Marie, Bahamas and Stars on the list of headliners.

Other attractions include a five-storey ferris wheel, 45 food trucks, a pop-up playground, beer garden and about 150 retail vendors.

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