The sun was setting on the beach as The Grapes of Wrath, headliners for the annual Sandbanks Music Festival, took to the stage Saturday evening.
Children shot like rockets across the grounds by the retro amphitheatre in the heart of Sandbanks Provincial Park. Many of them donned costumes made as part of the free programming for kids-an annual part of the event.
The festival featured music by Lava Hay, Lover’s Touch, Annelise Noronha, Siobhan Bodrug, Moscow Apartment and the aforementioned headliner.
There was also a tantalizing assortment of food and beverages available, including JK Fries, Outlet Food Co., IDLE WILD PEC, Papa Ganoush and more. Libations were provided by Parson’s Brewery, Sandbanks Winery, Kinsip Distillery, County Cider and Honey Pie Hives, who supplied mead.
The bands played against the backdrop of Suendrini’s Textile Landscapes-up cycled cloth art with a mandate to express the importance of biodiversity, natural habitats and climate change.
While environmentally conscious artwork adorned the stage, an environmentally minded ethos guided the sale of tickets, with $1 from every ticket going towards Friends of Sandbanks, a group dedicated to support the upkeep and development of the park ecosystem. Tickets were $30, with children under 12 attending for free.
“One of the goals of the festival is to raise funds for the Friends of Sandbanks and the great volunteer work they do for the park,” said organizer Dave Ullrich. “The other main goal is to bring together families, friends and artists to celebrate music in one of the most beautiful locations in the world…and it’s right here in Prince Edward County!”
Speaking to the Gazette was Gold Star Volunteer, Nella Casson, who describes volunteering at such a festival to be “way more fun than most people realize.”
“I’m also good at roping in other volunteers,” said Casson with a laugh.
“At the Sandbanks Music Festival, it’s really fun to be an ambassador for all the great stuff in the County. There is Vicki’s Veggies, Humble Bread, Parsons, Pyramid Ferments..who all donate food and drink for me to work with. It’s all delicious and high quality,” said Casson. “I think the visiting musicians and their families really appreciate how delicious everything is.”
A prominent volunteer in the community, Casson describes volunteering as an important way to keep connected with various parts of the community, not only by meeting people but by sharing the stories behind people, places and things.
“I know the suppliers, so I get to spread the stories, i.e. this bread was baked in a brick fire oven and Vicki’s family has farmed their land for nine generations etc…many hands lighten the load!”
According to Casson, the volunteers who arrive early in the day are also there at the end to help tear everything down.
Being nestled amongst the trees situated next to Lake Ontario, many of the close to 800 attendees camped onsite for ease of access to the festivities.
“Campsites on event weekend sell out completely and there are growing groups of families that come in together (and all camp together) from Toronto, Ottawa etc. It’s great to see that side grow over the years. When the tent/trailer is just steps away, families can come and go with young kids as needed. We also provide free kids programming all day led by Krista Dalby and her team from Small Pond Arts,” stated Ullrich.
With a goal to keep the event as inclusive as possible, it’s not a surprise that the festival returned for their eighth year this past weekend.