| Aug 27, 2009

Back to HomeEditorial - August 27, 2009 A summer of festivalsEditorial by Jeff Green

A couple of weeks ago the organizers of a music festival in Gananoque said they considered their first festival a success even though their headline act, Snoop Dogg, drew a disappointing 2,000 fans and the festival lost money.

They were probably calling it a success to save face, but if the Gananoque Festival does end up surviving to a 10th or maybe even 20th annual festival, this first year will indeed have been a success. You have to start somewhere, even if it means losing time and money at the first.

This year’s 14th Annual Verona Festival drew 1,700 on the Friday night alone, which is a lot more than anyone would have imagined back in the first year of the festival when a few dozen people showed up to hear the music.

In our region, there have been festivals of different kinds on just about every weekend this summer. There were three artisan fairs on a single weekend in July, and there have been historical festivals, agricultural festivals, a triathlon and a regatta, Canada Day festivals, agricultural fairs and a bunch of music festivals. There were mud drag races and fish frys, and the Verona Garlic Festival is coming next week, along with a studio tour and another art fair. The Parham and Maberly Fairs are both coming up this weekend, along with the first of two Pow Wows.

We’ve been previewing and covering festivals each and every weekend all summer at the News. This is not a scientific survey, but it seems like there are more festivals now in this region than ever before.

And for the most part they have been pretty successful this year, thank you very much.

So, why is that? The economy is bad, the weather has been pretty wet, except for the last couple of weeks, and we don’t live in a high profile region by any means.

But come summer time we like to amuse ourselves a little bit, and that amusement takes diverse forms.

This is the lesson that the Land O’ Lakes might be able to teach the organizers of the festival in Gananoque.

Before you worry about dollars and about drawing crowds, before you worry about tourists, you need to amuse yourselves. By and large the festival organizers that we have talked to this summer have been enthusiasts. From the artisans in Plevna to the bluegrass fans in Flinton, from the guitar music lovers at Loughborough Lake and the farming Orsers of Sydenham, to the remarkably resilient Parham Fair Board, the “perennial organizers” of Blue Skies Music Festival and the Knapp family behind the Silver Lake Pow Wow, these people built their year around their pet events because they love them.

A lot of the local festivals are purely recreational and run by volunteers, and some have a commercial bent, but the important thing is that people take the trouble to put them on, and the rest of us do the easy part, we come out and have a good time.

It’s a great pleasure here at the News to join in the celebration, by previewing and attending all these summer events.

So, to the Gananoque music people, we can say yes indeed, you had a success if you think you did. And in 10 years when 10,000 people come out to your festival to see the Abrams Brothers, you can thank Snoop Dog, and yourselves.

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