Take a Little Road Trip to Riverfest!

Why not wrap up summer with Riverfest Elora 2014, a two-day outdoor music festival that celebrates community, music, food, and art! Riverfest is held in beautiful downtown Elora at Bissell Park on the banks of the Grand River on August 22 and 23. Musical acts include Blue Rodeo, Serena Ryder, Charles Bradley, Arkells, Dan Mangan, and many more.

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Haydn Watters, Communications Coordinator for Riverfest 2014, filled us in on what it takes to organize this event. “The festival is entirely a community effort. Local restaurants cater and act as the green rooms/hospitality for the musicians. B&Bs open their doors and provide accommodations. Shops close for the weekend and direct their traffic to the festival. Individuals donate whatever is needed…the town really just wants to do their part to make the festival happen. It truly is a festival run by the town.” Watters, who is headed into his fourth year of Journalism at University of King's College in Halifax, has been intimately involved with the festival since its inaugural year in 2009. During the first year of the festival, he helped sell band merchandise, and has since worked on the sponsorship committee, as a co-director, and communications coordinator.

Riverfest has expanded in more recent years to include an area for local artisans to display their work. Artisan’s Alley showcases artists of a variety of disciplines from blown glass to recycled clothing and paintings on wood. “Having artisans at the show adds a whole other dynamic to the festival,” explains Watters. “It helps spotlight the local arts community beyond our musicians.”

In early March, the festival organizers send out an open call for artisans, food vendors and musicians who embody the festival’s community-based mandate. In addition to open submissions, the committee creates a wish list of headlining musicians they envision for the festival and directly contacts their agents.

The festival was founded in 2009 by artist Marilyn Koop. Marilyn was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and passed away at the beginning of 2012. The remaining organizers, including the Watters family, struggled with whether or not to continue the festival but after much deliberation decided to move forward. The festival now continues in her memory.

By Noelle Lalonde

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