The Elora Riverfest is now in its second year post-pandemic, but this time around feels more like normal, says the festival’s executive and artistic director.
“It just feels like everybody is ready to go, ready to have a good time. Last year’s festival was great, but it was more like a test run after three calendar years without having a festival – the last one we had was in 2019 and then came back in 2022, so three calendar years,” said Spencer Shewen of next weekend’s event.
Among the highlights this year are the three headliners: Waterloo Region natives and country band Reklaws, Metric and Feist, who will perform on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights respectively. This is the first time the 15 year-old festival will have a country music act as one of its headliners.
“We are really excited about that. Metric is one of two headliners I think, to ever come back to the festival, the other one being Blue Rodeo, so really excited to have them back. They have new music out. Fiest is headlining on Sunday for the first time and that’s the first time they’ve ever been to the festival, so it’s a very exciting year,” Shewen said.
This year will also feature several up and coming artists, including Charlotte Kardan, JJ Wilde and Talk whose hit “Runaway to Mars” has been viewed more than 11 million times on YouTube since the music video was released in June 2021.
The August 18-20 festival features a wide range of music and artists to attract a variety of fans, Shewen explained.
“We don’t peg ourselves into one genre. We have a wide range of genres of music and styles of music. That’s the theme of our festival as well, as we get all different age ranges of people, all different kinds of musical tastes of people. Even if you come for Metric you’re gonna find another band that you’ve never heard of that you’re gonna end up loving at our festival,” he said.
Riverfest looks to highlight a diversity of performers. This year, all three headline acts are female-led. That comes from the festival being a signatory of the Keychange Pledge, which aims to ensure gender equality in the music industry.
“We take that very seriously. We try very hard to make sure we have a good balance and that not any one group is overrepresented and that everybody has a chance to play on our stages,” Shewen explained.
Putting on the festival is a full-year endeavor, involving more than 600 volunteers.
“They’re all community members who just love this festival and want us to succeed and want to bring smiles to people’s faces. It’s really what it’s all about,” Shewen said of the work that goes into making the event happen.
Sheweran also sees the festival as a way to promote the communities of Elora and Fergus, including businesses and restaurants.
“Our festival exists for Elora and Centre Wellington as a whole. We just want to put smiles on people’s faces and make their lives a little better. That’s why we’re here. It’s just to make a difference to our community and to the surrounding community as well.
Riverfest will be held at Bissell Park in Elora and starts with the Rivercital at 3 p.m. on August 18. Tickets for the full festival are $175 while single day passes are $82.47 (including taxes and fees) for Friday night and $105.86 for Saturday and Sunday. There are also a variety of extras: after-party and Riverfest Plus, which includes merch, tickets available. Due to limited parking, shuttles are available from various locations in Elora, Fergus, Guelph and Waterloo. More information can be found online at www.riverfestelora.com.