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Inaugural Valley Electronic Music Arts Expo aims to open new ears, dispel stigma

KENTVILLE, NS - It was a way to open new ears to electronic music in a fun, family-friendly environment.

The inaugural Valley Electronic Music Arts Expo (VEMEA) was held on Kentville’s Aberdeen Street on June 30. Founder and organizer Chris Rushton said they wanted to do something fun for the community and expose people to electronic music.

Rushton is a DJ and is always around electronic music, playing at various festivals and shows. He said that although there are a lot of music-related events in the Valley, there’s nothing like the expo, which was the first of its kind.

Rushton, a South Alton resident, said the Town of Kentville was gracious in allowing Aberdeen Street to be closed for the event and in providing some funding as part of Canada Day weekend celebrations. He said they wanted to use Aberdeen Street to help minimize traffic interruption and the hope is to make the Kentville expo an annual event.

The expo is about giving area DJs a platform to perform on without having to travel elsewhere. It featured 10 DJs representing various genres and a variety of other performers, vendors and attractions. He said they were all contributing their time and efforts, helping to ensure that the event went well. The expo was also about extending “kudos” to them and showcasing their diverse talents.

Rushton said it was important to him to help dispel the stigma around this particular form of music and they aimed to do it in part by incorporating bubbles, chalk art, hula-hooping, face painting and other family-friendly features. He hoped everybody who attended would have a good time.

“I just wanted to showcase electronic music and art because, in some cases, sometimes, electronic music gets a bad name,” Rushton said. “We just wanted to show to the town that you can have electronic music and it can be family-friendly.”

He said he enjoys telling his story through music and this is what inspired him to become a DJ. Rushton said every DJ plays music in a different way and it’s nice having people dance to your brand.

First DJ to perform

DJ Tyler Ferdinand of Wolfville was the first to perform at the expo. He said he’s known Rushton for a couple of years now, playing various festivals on the electronic music scene. Ferdinand said he was excited to hear about Rushton pitching the expo idea to the town but wondered if it would happen due to negative misconceptions.

While helping Rushton move a couple weeks ago, Rushton asked Ferdinand if he’d like to open the expo. Ferdinand’s response was “I’d love to.” He said the experience was great. The community has invested in the expo and people want to be part of it.

“It’s good to see these things happening in the Valley to show that there’s a lot of positives to the music scene,” Ferdinand said. “It’s not all the dark stuff that happens, that’s not what it’s about, it’s about getting out with your friends and we have a lot of great vendors here today as well.”

He said he has friends who aren’t necessarily fans of electronic music who dropped in to check it out and they enjoyed it. There is such a wide range of genres with electronic music that there’s something to appeal to just about everybody. Ferdinand said he hopes the expo becomes an annual event that runs for years to come.

For more information, visit or visit the VEMAE Facebook page.


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