Kevin Guptell, a founder and organizing member of the Hantsport Music Festival, says this year's nine-hour outdoor concert is going to feature acts that'll appeal to a wide variety of music lovers.
“We want to get people into the community. We want to promote great, live Atlantic Canadian music, which we do. We give them a place to play. Everybody gets paid. We have developing bands and bands that are well known. It's a great thing,” said Guptell.
The headliner of the festival this year is Signal Hill, a mainstay in the East Coast music scene. The group formed in St. John's, Newfoundland in the early '90s and is a favourite Halifax-based rock group.
Other performers include the Valley's No Name Blues Band, Willie Stratton, the Curtis Matheson Band, the Jen Miller Band, East Hants' Makayla Lynn Band, and the Amanda Jackson Band.
Guptell said the bands that have played in the past — mainly blues and folk acts — have all been floored by the operation that the Haven of Hospitality puts on.
“I've got testimonals from Matt Minglewood and Terry Whalen who were there last year,” said Guptell.
“Any band that has played at our festival wants to play again – they want to come back because they get treated like how we want to be treated,” he said.
For example, volunteers lug the bands' gear to and from the site. The musicians are fed. There's a spot set up where they can network and enjoy the show. Plus, all the money they make selling merchandise goes directly back to the musician instead of a portion going to the festival.
As for the visitors, they also get treated like how Guptell, and his fellow committee members — co-chair Raye Myles, Teresa Rooney, Jane Kerr and Mike Guptell — would want to be treated.
Prices for drinks and food are affordable.
“There's nothing I hate worse than going to a festival and getting a little hamburger and paying $7 for it on a dried out old bun. We don't do that. That's now how we do things,” said Guptell.
“We want to treat our guests like how we would like to be treated. We really work hard at doing just that.”
Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. The event is held at the Foundry Road Sports Field in Hantsport.
Like in prior years, money raised at the festival goes back to the community.
The following community groups and organizations will benefit from this year's concert: Hantsport and District Food Bank, Hantsport Memorial Community Centre, Hantsport Minor Ball Association, Hantsport Shamrocks, Hantsport and Area Historical Society, and the Hantsport and L.E.Shaw Home and School Associations.
Guptell said the volunteer groups that receive funding also participate at the festival, from running the gate to selling the drinks.
The 106 Royal Canadian Air Cadets will also be in attendance, collecting recyclables to raise funds for their organization.
More than $76,500 has been donated back to various community groups since the festival was first held in 2014.
Guptell said the biggest reason they host the yearly concert is to help put Hantsport on the map as it's a friendly, welcoming community.
“Ultimately it's about bringing people to the community... getting them off the highway here in Windsor and off the highway in Avonport and seeing all the things that you and I see every day,” said Guptell.
“Beautiful countryside. Land for sale. Homes for sale. Places to put businesses. People who would like to have a nice, new job. West Hants is now saying 'we have everything.' That's their slogan and I agree with that. Deep in my heart, I'm buying into the fact that we have everything.”
Earlier in the year, the festival committee applied for a Canada 150 grant and received $15,000 from the provincial Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.
“Ultimately, we're able to do some infrastructure stuff that we haven't been able to,” said Guptell of the funding.
They've purchased things like commercial grade pop-up sunshades and cash drawers — items that may not be glamorous, but will make running the festival easier for the volunteers.
Who's playing when
The following are the featured performers for the 2017 show.
• Noon-1 p.m. — No Name Blues Band
• 1:15-2:15 p.m. — Willie Stratton
• 2:30-3:30 p.m. — Curtis Matheson Band
• 3:45-4:45 p.m. — Jen Miller Band
• 5-6 p.m. — Makayla Lynn Band
• 6:15-7:15 p.m. — Amanda Jackson Band
• 7:30-9 p.m. — Signal Hill
To learn more about the concert or order tickets, visit: http://hhmf.ca/