• Rob Hornberger

Kingsville music festival hits the trail with performance sites along Chrysler Greenway

After two-year COVID hiatus, annual festival will return in August
Michelle and John Law, organizers of the Kingsville music festival, says the greenway venues will offer smaller, more audience-friendly sites closer to downtown.

KINGSVILLE — The Kingsville Music Society is taking its music festival on the road — or more precisely to the Chrysler Greenway.

The former folk festival will offer a broader, more varied offering of music this August and will be held at three sites along or near the greenway: the new Grove Brewery on Wigle Avenue, the Mettawas Station restaurant off Landsdowne Avenue and the Kingsville Brewery beer garden south of the greenway on Park Street.

It’s expected Pelee Island Winery, which also abuts the greenway, will be added to the list of venues next year.

“Our idea is to start very small here on the greenway with a kilometre and a half (between sites),” said John Law, who organizes the annual festival with wife Michelle.

“Our dream is to make it a 40-km long festival with stages at the golf course, Colio (winery in Harrow) and Ruthven.”

Michelle Law said social distancing rules during the pandemic forced cancellation of the festival at Lakeside Park the last two years. To avoid any repeat of the social distancing rules for large events the couple decided to spread out the venues to smaller, more audience-friendly locations closer to downtown.

“If we can spread the music and people out and about throughout the entire community we’re encouraging them to get out to restaurants and support our local businesses,” Michelle said.

The Kingsville Music Society, making use of federal and provincial grants, brought in artists last year to perform at downtown’s Open Streets.

The pair learned from Open Streets that free music brings crowds, so this summer the festival will offer free music during the day. Admission will be charged in the evening for the more well-known headline acts.

The music festival started in 2014, growing each year, but in 2020 and 2021 it was shelved because of COVID.

“We feel great about it. We welcome things happening in the community and spreading it through town.”

“We got all the acts booked for 2020 and then we had to defer everybody and say we’ll have you back in 2021. And then that was cancelled as well,” said Michelle.

Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Cockburn, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea, the Cowboy Junkies, Jane Siberry and Serena Ryder are some of the big-name acts to appear at the festival. The Laws said they could have as many as 20 acts performing this August and names will be announced once contracts have been signed and advertising put in place.

The Laws will also make use of the greenway’s popularity as a bike trail.

“We want to have bike rentals available for people and maybe have some guided bicycle tours, so Bike Windsor is on our list to contact,” Michelle said.

“We have an opportunity to boost healthy living, being outside and the music. We’re going that way for sure,” John added.

Janet Del Brocco, co-owner of the Mettawas Station restaurant, said she supports the festival’s move to three smaller locations.

“We feel great about it,” she said. “We welcome things happening in the community and spreading it through town.”

The Aug. 12 to 14 music festival isn’t the only show the Laws will present this spring and summer.

Also on tap are two “global music” concerts called Rhythm of the World. One will be held in May, the second in June. The Laws said they can’t announce the names of the performers yet but said the acts are Juno award winners.

There will be Music at the Mettawas at the park gazebo Thursday evenings during July and August. Free concerts during Open Streets will be back this summer.

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