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Semaine de la Francophonie
by Brad Aubin
Over 800 people flocked to the picturesque riverside park known as Fisher’s Paradise in Field from July 20 to 23, for a weekend of relaxation, fun, music, arts and kinship. Some described it as a ‘mini Woodstock,’ and while the vibe was cool and casual, there was no mistaking this was the 9th annual River and Sky Festival (R&S) – now one of the premier music events in Canada.
R&S director Peter Zwarich is thrilled with the outcome, saying they sold out of the limited number of tickets even though they increased the number this year. “Despite having more people than usual, it was still a great festival. We had a very nice crowd but it never seemed too crowded. We really like the number.”
The 4-day festival is a destination for people to unwind, relax, and take in the Northern Ontario sunshine. It features a variety of workshops including yoga, face painting, guitar, stand-up comedy, puppetry, dancing and more. There are also many leisure activities on site, including canoeing, a sauna and a sandy beach.
Of course, front and centre is the music, a giant component of R&S. In fact, their mission statement is to present regional, national and international emerging indie, folk and roots music all while showcasing a community-based, simple and sustainable way of life.
This year, over 40 bands performed, keeping the music going from sun up to sun down and beyond. Among the bands were Canadian mainstays such as Halifax’s ‘Wintersleep’ – a Juno award-winning band described as “pop-infused space rock”. Wintersleep was also the most requested band in last year’s R&S audience survey. Montreal’s Timber Timbre also graced the stage. The two-times Polaris Prize nominated band was just off a European tour before dropping off in Field, and were definitely a fan favourite. Another band that wowed the crowd was Toronto punk-rockers PUP, who have been making waves in the Canadian music scene for years and have been touring the world since their sophomore album, “The dream is over” was released in 2016. The band headlined Saturday night, bringing a big crowd to the main stage.