The 7th annual Riverfest Elora took place this past weekend at Elora, Ontario’s Bissel Park. This was a big year for the small-town festival, which—for the first time in the festival’s history—took place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In previous years, the festival was only a two-day event, but after last year’s turnout, a third day was added.
The weekend line-up consisted of some of the biggest names in Canadian music, including Metric, Sam Roberts Band, Shad, The New Pornographers and Tokyo Police Club, among others. American artists, including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Shakey Graves, were scattered throughout the weekend but the entire festival maintained a very Canadian-centric feel.
What makes Rivefest Elora so unique is their almost complete lack of artist overlap. One of the biggest downsides of so many music festivals these days is having to pick and choose who to see when sets are scheduled at the same time. At Rivefest Elora, however, attendees rarely have to worry about scheduling conflicts. With two main stages, the shows were staggered so that only one artist was on each stage at a time.
This year marked the first year of any scheduling conflicts, occurring only after they introduced a third stage hosted by Toronto’s Dine Alone Records. At this tiny merch table-turned-stage, artists such as Tokyo Police Club’s Dave Monks and Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury stripped-down to simply a guitar and a microphone and shared acoustic versions of some of their biggest hits, in addition to recent solo work.
Elora prides itself on its locally oriented, small-town status and the festival did an impeccable job of staying true to these roots. Between sets, visitors had the chance to eat from countless local food vendors, serving everything from pulled pork and mac and cheese to home made ice cream sandwiches and freezies. In addition to the food trucks, there was an artisan alley with clothing, accessories, and home wear made by local artists. In addition to the food and artisan stalls, attendees had the opportunity to admire impressive art installations made by local artists.
Riverfest Elora may still be a small festival on the world scale, but they have the spirit and support to rival many of today’s big name events.