Arts and culture alive at Higher Grounds

Above: Betty Fraser, Carla Lamontagne, and Rachel Fraser stand at the counter ready to serve customers.
– Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

While there have been many changes to Higher Grounds and more coming, including new decor, being opened Mondays, and serving breakfast and regular coffee, the local coffee shop has not changed its dedication to promoting the arts. In fact, that passion for showcasing the community’s many diverse talents is on the rise.
Higher Grounds kicked off their new round of events Saturday with a book signing with author Kim Mills. The Morinville resident recently published All the Way Home, the first in a military romance series.

Higher Grounds Manager Betty Fraser said the book signing was the start of weekend events.

“We’re going to start doing some events on Saturday,” Fraser said, noting the next Saturday offering is a Mother’s Day [Pancake] Breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. May 13 that is free for mothers. “Eventually, we want to start opening Saturday morning’s as well. But we will do some special events on Saturdays, perhaps a Canada Day event.”

Talent shows to continue

Fraser said May 13 is also the date of the next Hot Dogma Talent Night. A long-time Higher Grounds staple, the shows will now move from Friday evening to Saturday night to make them more accessible to commuters.
Not only is the day changing – the name is as well.

“We’re changing the name, too,” Fraser said. “For this one, we’re going to still call it Hot Dogma because that is what it has been called. But we’re going to throw it out to the people that sign up. We’re going to make a little contest of it to come up with the best name, and then we’ll vote on it and give them a prize. We are finding some people don’t know what Hot Dogma means. If we have talent or entertainment in the name, people will instantly know.”

The next show takes place May 13 at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Singers, musicians, dancers, jugglers and anyone with a talent interested in performing can sign up at the coffee shop or call 780-266-JAVA (5282).

Visual arts play a role

Performing and literary arts are not the only focus for Higher Grounds. The shop recently partnered with the Morinville Art Club to have works by local artists on display on the walls of the cafe – both for viewing and for purchasing. The move has helped the art club spread their work around the community. The club recently set up rotating displays at the Morinville Museum.

But Higher Grounds is also offering everyone an opportunity to get their paint on by hosting regular Paint Nights.

The next Paint Night is May 3 and has a Mother’s Day Mom-and-Me theme. Cost for the event is $30 per person and includes all supplies. Those interested in attending can sign up on the shop’s Facebook page, in person at the business or by phone to reserve a spot.

Arts important

As was the case with the management team that started Higher Grounds years ago, the arts remain important to the new group and their volunteers.

“To me, and I’m sure to the ladies prior to, the community was obviously a huge part of this [business]. Promoting the community was important and still is. We love Morinville, so we want to promote Morinville. There is a lot of talent in Morinville, especially our youth, and we want to give them a place to show it. Also, if there are people that do pottery or knitting – we’d like to start displaying it.”

Monday openings coming soon

One of the shop’s shortfalls, at least for fans of their signature coffees, is being open four days a week – Tuesday through Friday. Fraser said that would all change June 1 when Higher Grounds will be open Monday through Friday.

But to be open extra hours, the non-profit coffee house needs additional volunteers.

“We can only open more hours depending on our volunteers. So the more volunteers we get – that will help do Mondays and Saturday mornings, and evenings,” Fraser said, adding volunteers work four-hour shifts. “We’d like to start opening evenings. We have our patio tables. It would be nice to come and have an evening drink – an Italian soda or a latte.”

Those interested in volunteering can visit Fraser at the shop.

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