Located at Fishers’ Paradise in Field, ON, north of West Nipissing, River & Sky is a gem of the North. The festival is celebrating its ten year anniversary Thursday July 19 to Sunday July 22 this year.
The line-up has always featured an adventurous mix of sounds from Canada’s indie scene along with locals from towns along the Trans-Canada highway as it runs from North Bay into Manitoba. This year is no different with R&S alumni Chad VanGaalen, Born Ruffians and Shred Kelly returning to celebrate the anniversary. The festival’s alumni also includes The Sadies, Timber Timbre, METZ, Hayden, Black Mountain and Antibalas among others. Operators, Land of Talk, and The Pack AD will also play this tenth incarnation of the fest.
Ten years was not on the minds of the festival’s founders when they were first planning a home grown community gathering. Festival Director Peter Zwarich says its been just one year at a time for them.
“We are very happy that we have made it to ten years but getting there never really came to mind, it has always been a year-to-year existence with a wait-and-see-how-it-goes approach,” he says.
Even taking it one year at a time it hasn’t been easy. The newness of the festival, its location and its smallness were obstacles to overcome and there are always financial pressures too. Festivals are under pressure financially and
“Early on, I think that not having street cred was an obstacle at times in being able to attract key artists. That has changed over time as more artists have played R&S and they are able to speak to the experience with their peers,” says Zwarich.
“Money is always an obstacle. Without the help of key funders and partners R&S would not exist - they have been a key resource for both guidance and cashflow. We also belong to local, regional and provincial music/ arts & sustainability communities and their knowledge and energy and love has definitely propped R&S up over the years. The goodwill of many good people has been instilled into R&S and so many other festivals. Being open to a collective experience and allowing people to join in and contribute has often been our saving grace to overcoming obstacles - many obstacles,” he says.
But ten years on, obstacles being met and overcome, and bands ready and willing to make a stop, the good folks of River & Sky have proved themselves. They are now part of the community driven festival circuit, on par with some seasoned festivals as Mariposa, River Fest and Hillside. With the decade Zwarich as advice for any community looking to start their own festival.
“Do it,” he says, “figure it out and do it. Festivals, as a celebration of community, help to define and strengthen our overall social identity. They act as a focal point for collective energy and somehow you end up with something definitive and special that is somehow greater than just the sum of its parts. When people work together and come together at festivals we are reminded of what being humans can really be about.”
What You Need to Know about River & Sky:
4-Day Advance Passes: Arrive July 19 and stay until July 22. $204 (includes HST and processing fees)
3-Day Advance Passes: Arrive July 20 and stay until the evening, July 22. $154.50 (includes HST and processing fees).
Full Day Passes (advance): Friday $72, Saturday $72, Sunday $ 37.75
Night Passes (advance): $50 (Thursday; Friday; Saturday)
Children 16 years and younger with their families get in for free.
Dogs welcome on leashes. Must be spayed or neutered.
Sauna and Swimming – yes, but always at your own risk.
No Beer tent: BYOB at your campsite.
Camping available in field and forest area on the property. Cost of camping (in a tent) included in the price. Trailers/RVs will pay a fee, depending on the size. .
More info and tickets: www.riverandsky.ca