We are mere weeks away from the first ever WAYHOME Music & Arts Festival and only a month out from Canada’s largetst coungry festival the 4th annual Boots and Hearts Music Festival.  This year they have something in common.  A NEW HOME! The WAYHOME Festival is the first attempt at putting Ontario on the map for bringing a Bonnaroo style experience to the Canadian music landscape. With an expected attendance of about 35,000 this will be a fantastic kick off for the newly upgraded Burl’s Creek Event Grounds.  This was an opportunity to see what more than just concerts the property was going to be used for and I’m confident I’m not alone in saying that I’m pretty excited about its offerings.


I want to kick things off with saying the media support that was bused up from Toronto was fantastic sometimes even the offering of some amazing cuisine and breath-taking environment isn’t enough to lure the city dwellers to the outskirts of the bustling city.  For those that did come they were treated to some amazing food prepared by Anthony Rose and outstanding hospitality from the folks at both Burls Creek & Republic Live.  Now,  I have been trying to hunt down Shannon McNevan who is Partner and Executive Director of Republic live for well over 2 months now and on this day thanks to Laura Kennedy this finally happened.

Republic Live Excutive showing us the grounds at Burl's Creek Event Grounds

Republic Live Excutive showing us the grounds at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds

Shannon sat down beside me and it was one of the best conversations I have had about music in a while.  I do want to get one thing straight this is a business, but this is a business with a pile of people who really care for the festival goers.    We sat down to an absolutely amazing meal that as mentioned earlier was prepared by Anthony Rose with a large portion of it supplied from the vendors of the OK Friday Farmers market that also takes place EVERY Friday from 2 – 8pm and is a great stop on the way up to the cottage to grab those fresh fruits and veggies and maybe a wee treat to.   From the meat to the amazing sour dough bread it was just an absolutely fantastic meal with flavors that just exploded in your mouth.  Now I am no food critic so let’s talk music.

Boots and Hearts

Boots and Hearts

Having Shannon sit down and chat about everything to do from festival grounds, to booking artists for the much anticipated 4th Boots and Hearts and of course this year’s inaugural WAYHOME Festival which has Republic Live partnering with ACE one of the largest concert promoters in North America to make Wayhome our own little destination festival.  The later, WAYHOME has been literally years in the making, and to get the lineup that they were able to secure was pretty impressive as per Shannon.  One story I can share is Neil Young agreeing to do the festival in year one.   When they put in the paper work (offer) what seems like months ago they honestly weren’t expecting one of Rock and Roll’s biggest stars and Canada’s best ambassador of spreading the love of Canadian music to actually accept the offer.  Neil Young won’t be doing another Ontario show this year and to choose Wayhome (the only festival date on his tour) as his ONLY Ontario date Shannon said.. “WOW” yup there was more to that but the part that really stood in my head was the WOW factor…

Neil Young is a legend and like Shannon said, legends don’t need to play festival circuit but to lock in the Harvest Moon hit maker was the biggest feather that Republic Live could have ever imagined.   The rest of the lineup was booked months in advance and was pieced together by the amazing teams at both ACE and Republic Live.   With artists like Sam Smith, Vance Joy and Young hitting the stage over the course of the 3 day festival brings a very eclectic gathering of arts.  One thing we did discuss in detail outside of the music is the actual Art that will be on display at Wayhome.   They are going BIG on this.  They went after one of Toronto’s brightest young artists and asked him to help curate the art for the event.   And he has commissioned some major artists to do some pretty incredible things.  These won’t be small drawings, we are talking MAJOR “Tree Size” art that will be focal points of the event and I am told at night will look spectacular.  Let’s talk a bit about the “experience” that Republic Live is trying to put together with this property.  The whole idea isn’t about folks camping in the rough farmers’ fields of Bowmanville, not that Republic Live ever had the idea of pulling out of MoSport Park in Bowmanville but when a few changes that needed to be made couldn’t be agreed upon Republic Live needed to find a new home.

And a new home they did, this beautiful property will be one of the best festival facilities the country has to offer.   With real fields dedicated to camping on some plush grass, rather than the dry rough grounds of the past.  If you’re into the VIP experience the barn is one amazing looking piece of the puzzle and will be a rally point for a lot of people during the festivals.  The grounds that have been sculpted to be the perfect property for such amazing events is only weeks from hosting the expected 35,000 people to partake in the inaugural WAYHOME festival.

OK Friday Barn Fair: Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

OK Friday Barn Fair: Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

OK Friday Barn Fair interior of barn: Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

OK Friday Barn Fair interior of barn: Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

This will have a hick-up or two as it is a new property and making sure that certain measures of safety and awareness of property is given to all.   If you’re one of the lucky 40,000 to have obtained tickets to this year’s fantastic Boots and Hearts line up I am sure this weekend will run a bit more smoothly considering they will have WAYHOME already under their belts.  Oh and not to forget the amazing farmers market that is on site all summer long called the OK Friday. The market is full of local vendors selling fresh baked goods and produce with vendors such as Maddington Farms, Earth Snacks and Black Angus Smokehouse along with VQA Wine being sold by Norman Hardie you really have a wide variety of vendors that are there to serve you with a smile and some amazing products!

The Gates of the OK Friday Market - Photo: Corey Kelly

The Gates of the OK Friday Market – Photo: Corey Kelly

OK Friday Barn Fair_Maddington Farms (2)_Image by Daniel WilliamsDowling Pictures

OK Friday Barn Fair Maddington Farms -Image by Daniel Williams Dowling Pictures

Along with the fantastic food they will be also be having LIVE MUSIC the venue has partnered with famed Canadian Indie Label Arts and Crafts and on this day we took in the sounds of Reuban and The Dark who put on a great performacne is such a sereal surrounding.   There will be lots of music at the Event Grounds this summer so don’t be shy grab a seat and take in the sounds of some of Canada’s best indie artists.

OK Friday Barn Fair_Reuben and the Dark_Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

OK Friday Barn Fair Reuben and the Dark - Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

OK Friday Barn Fair Reuben and the Dark – Image by Daniel Williams-Dowling Pictures

Burls Creek is going to be a destination for years to come for concert goers and like I told Shannon your building the future for music in Ontario with Burls Creek Event Grounds and I can’t wait to see what next Summer has in store.  Would love to see artists like Dave Matthews and Zac Brown pull out of the Molson Amp. in downtown Toronto and do a full one day festival up at this location.  It’s meant for that type of music and I can’t wait to experience these festival with all of you!

Check out some of the info below on both major events happeing on site this summer!

Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76