Coun­try mu­sic hoe­down goes off with­out a hitch

Sev­enth an­nual fes­ti­val leaves lit­tle to be de­sired

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - NEW - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD

A cel­e­bra­tion fea­tur­ing some of coun­try mu­sic’s big­gest stars set against a scenic back­drop of P.E.I.’s north shore went off with­out a hitch this week­end.

While the dust is still set­tling on the site of the sev­enth an­nual Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, it’s clear the three-day ex­trav­a­ganza didn’t dis­ap­point the le­gion of coun­try mu­sic fans that flocked to the venue.

Fes­ti­val pres­i­dent Jeff Squires said a com­bi­na­tion of co­op­er­a­tive weather and fan­tas­tic crowds led to a beau­ti­ful week­end for the fes­ti­val.

“You see the ex­cite­ment on P.E.I. over the past week and go­ing into next week. It’s just a great op­por­tu­nity to bring peo­ple into P.E.I. and to show­case our won­der­ful province,” he said.

What fol­lowed was a week­end fea­tur­ing some of coun­try mu­sic’s most es­tab­lished acts, as well as promis­ing up-and-com­ers and am­bi­tious lo­cal mu­si­cians on three sep­a­rate stages.

Head­lin­ers Eric Church, Keith Ur­ban and Brant­ley Gil­bert, as well as Rod Stewart’s con­cert last Thurs­day, brought in thou­sands to camp­sites, restau­rants and other at­trac­tions in the area.

While there was no fi­nal num­ber for at­ten­dance, Squires said ev­ery night of the fes­ti­val saw con­sis­tently large crowds.

“In the ear­lier years a lot of peo­ple would come for one night, they’d pick and choose,” said Squires. “Now they’re com­ing for all three days.”

The long-run­ning fes­ti­val has also af­fected ar­eas fur­ther out than Cavendish, with most camp­sites booked up months be­fore the hoe­down.

For Nova Sco­tia res­i­dent David Lade and his group of friends, rent­ing a cot­tage in Stan­hope and at­tend­ing the fes­ti­val was a sum­mer high­light.

Donned in cow­boy hats, Lade said the group wanted to come to the fes­ti­val af­ter at­tend­ing last year’s event.

“Even with the storm (that can­celled one of last year’s con­certs), we wanted to come back,” said Lade. “It’s well-run, well-or­ga­nized, the acts are great and the peo­ple here are great.”

Great Big Sea front­man and solo per­former Alan Doyle noted dur­ing his per­for­mance that the fes­ti­val had many visi­tors from out­side of Canada as well.

“It’s start­ing to feel like a kitchen party now,” said Doyle. “We’ve got peo­ple here from Amer­ica, from Aus­tralia for god sakes... are we gonna show them how it’s done or what?”

The fes­ti­val is now even a draw amongst non-coun­try mu­sic lis­ten­ers.

That was the case for Char­lot­te­town cou­ple Larry He­garty and Judy Fraser.

“I’m not a big fan (of coun­try mu­sic), I like it though,” said He­garty. “”It’s just a great show and great event.” Fraser agreed. “You get to meet new peo­ple and see a lot of peo­ple,” she said. “It’s a great place and some of the per­for­mances were ter­rific.”

MITCH MAC­DON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Kris­tian Bush yells to the crowd from the Lotto Max Main Stage of the Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val dur­ing his per­for­mance Satur­day af­ter­noon. Bush is well-known as one half of the coun­try mu­sic duo Su­gar­land.

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