So let’s start off with the fact that I LOVE LIVE MUSIC.  I love it so much that I, a full grown man, feel completely justified in using shouty capitals when I write about how much I LOVE it. Just ask my wife (who will inevitably be asking me why I didn’t put her name in caps) – I would be at a concert every night if I could (with her by my side of course). I have been contemplating writing this post for a couple weeks now and thought after hearing about another big US Country Music Festival closing up shop this summer it was time to post this one.

Being in Ontario, Canada this summer we have a huge list of country music festivals happening in 2016.  There have been two new major festivals announced this past January (CMT Fest and Trackside) and I believe one more yet to be announced.  So lets run through a quick list of what Ontario has to offer this summer.

June 11-19 – Sound Of Music Festival (Burlington, ON)

June 11-13 – Mud Bog Music Fest (Sudbury, ON)

July 1-2 – Trackside Festival (London, ON)

July 8-9 – CMT Music Festival (Kitchener, ON)

July 7-17 – RBC Ottawa Bluesfest (Ottawa, ON)

July 13-16 – Gone Country / Rock The Park (London, ON)

July 29-31 –  Boot Hill Jamboree (Boot Hill, ON)

Aug 4-6 – Boots and Hearts Music Festival (Oro, ON)

Aug 4-7 – Manitoulin Country Festival (Little Current, ON)

Aug 18-21 – Havelock Jamboree (Havelock, ON)

Aug 25-27 – Lucknow Music In The Fields (Lucknow, ON)

June – Sept – Mega Ticket Concerts (Toronto, ON)

Yup, that’s in Ontario alone (as if East and West coasters didn’t need another reason to dislike us). Now take a deep breath,  grab a cold one and check your bank account, because if you’re a die hard festival attendee, it’s going to take a beating this summer.  Now, I know that SOMF & Bluesfest are not exclusively country focused, but they have a great offering of Country artists set to take the stage this summer.

I started off saying three big festivals in the US have been cancelled and they are Dega Jam (Talladega, AL),  FarmBorough (New York, NY) and Big Barrel Country Festival (Dover, DL), all set to have huge names and massive lineups, and even despite the hype they all pulled the plug.  That is big news and the big question is, is this a sign of more cancellations to come?  Will there be more festivals folding as a result of the present state of the economy in combination with the an over abundance of concert options? Its hard to believe that festivals of this size,  some reaching 40,000 + people one year,  and then the next year ticket sales are slashed in half and flags are raised.

You might be wondering who was playing some of these above mentioned festivals. Here is the latest one to close up shop.


That is one of the best line-ups I have personally ever seen and to have this one cancel must be a blow to all those involved.  The others had big names like Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley & Sam Hunt,  so you know when fans lose out on an event like this it sucks for everyone involved.  Many people plan their vacation time around these festivals and the local communities lose out on anticipated revenues for that time period, and the artists themselves lose out on the opportunity to play for their much beloved fans. That’s who they do it for.

Let’s turn our attention back to the Ontario market for a second.   We have two brand new festivals kicking off this summer: Trackside Festival & CMT Music Fest.  Trackside has Florida Georgia Line, Chris Young and Cole Swindle to name a few, while CMT Music Fest has Zac Brown Band and Eric “F*ckin'” Church (Ok I might be a little bit of a Church fan). We all know the king of country in Ontario is Boots and Hearts with over 40+ artists on bill and 40,000+ fans basking in the August sun.  It’s Canada’s biggest party,  there is no doubt about that and country music fans love their concerts and would go to every single one if they could.  But lets be realistic, the cost to get a basic ticket to all the Festivals this summer would run you just over $2,000.00, and that is just for your ticket into the event.  This doesn’t include the cost of camping, food, merchandise, beer and the rounds you buy for the group of strangers you just met and promise yourself, in your drunken stupor,  that you will keep in touch with for years to come.   Now I realize some of these events cross over and even if you wanted to you couldn’t attend them all, so let’s remove the crossovers. Even then you are still sitting at $1,500.00 for tickets only.  Now lets’ talk about the other Canadian festivals taking place this summer.

The East Coast has the following festivals:

July 2 – Canaan Country Fest (Annapolis Valley, NS)

July 8-10 – Cavendish Beach Festival (Cavendish, PEI)

Aug 6 – Beach Blast (Parlee Beach, NB)

Aug 19-20 – East Bound Hoedown ( Avondale, NL)

Heading West….

June 30-July3 – Dauphins Countryfest (Dauphin, MB)

July 14-17 – Craven Country Jamboree (Craven, SK)

July 28-31 – Big Valley Jamboree (Camrose, AB)

July – Calgary Stampede (Calgary, AB)

Aug 19-21 – Country Thunder (Calgary, AB) *NEW FESTIVAL

July 28-31 – Sunfest (Cowichan Valley, BC)

July 28-31 –  Merritt Rockin’ River Fest (Merritt, BC)

So as you can see coast to coast, Canada has an abundance of Country Music festivals and those are just the majors.   There are probably another four or five rodeo-style shows to include.   So with all these festivals out on the table, do you think that this is an over saturation of the market or an indication of supply trying to catch up with demand?  Can all of these shows survive in an economy where signing a big name US artist is costing almost 35-40% more than it did two years ago?  Is it opening the doors for more Canadian artists and strengthening their fan base?  There are so many questions that I have heard from fans, promoters and artists.  As stated at the beginning of the article I am truly a Country Music fan.  I love how the fans are friendly and how they truly love the music.  They are open to hearing new artists and love finding the next big thing early.

So we asked a few questions on this one and feel free to comment below on your thoughts.  Also let us know which of these festivals you will be at this year. If you catch me in enough of a stupor, I might buy you a round and call you my new BFF.

Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76