The Moose N' Fiddle music festival is getting ready for its sixth year and organizers are working to make sure it's better than ever.
Denise Lysak, the cultural officer for the towns of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, explained that the festival isn't just about the music.
“The Moose N' Fiddle really is an outdoor summer festival where we can connect the great outdoors with incredible Canadian talent,” Lysak said.
“Both in terms of the musicians that come to Nestor Falls, as well as the crafters that are underneath the artisans village. We also have a bit of fun with some food and drink, whether that's some craft beer or some street eats from regional foods trucks.”
The festival is set to run Aug. 15-17 at Caliper Lake Provincial Park, with entertainment taking to the stage Friday and Saturday evenings. Lysak said that there's something for everyone to enjoy.
“I think we have a line-up that is usually a bit of everything,” she said.
“Whether that genre is folk or rockabilly or country, it seems to work for the audiences that have grown with us and enjoyed Moose N' Fiddle. The same is true this year, we've been sort of saying that it's eight genre-crushing acts and that's what you'll find onstage.”
Among the acts that have been lined up for the festival this year are local band SiouxPerBoat, Carly Dow, Coco Love Alcorn and the Black River Drifters. Lysak also shared that the crowd-favourite Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir is returning for their third year.
“The Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir, they're a group of multi-musical theatre artists out of Winnipeg, Man. that are raw and edgy and always do original music,” Lysak said.
“Basically, five minutes after they leave the stage they say they're going to come back next year.”
The musical acts span not only genres, but the breadth of the country as well, with one group coming in from the prairies and another from Ontario's north.
“Closing everything out is this incredible group called Nice Horse,” Lysak said.
“They're a four-woman country band from Alberta. And then at the very end, from the far far north—and they really get to stake that claim—is Midnight Shine. Some of them live as far away as James Bay, Attawapiskat, and we're thrilled that they're coming all the way down here for the festival.”
Lysak also noted that there are plenty of things other than the headliners to see at the Moose N' Fiddle as well, part of what makes the festival so popular.
“The artisan's village really does help us create that sense of interest,” Lysak said.
“We sell merchandise for Moose N' Fiddle under there, the musicians get to sell their CD's and anything else they might have, but the artisans that come with their own unique creations and specialty items, whether that's honey or candles or jewelry, it really adds to the vibe that is the Moose N' Fiddle.”
It's also important to keep a large crowd fed, and Lysak noted that there will be several food and drink vendors there to keep festival-goers happy.
“The Black Oven pizza truck has been there from the beginning, everybody loves their wood fired pizza,” she said.
“This year, joining us for the first time is Gropps Meats. There will be a food cart from Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, and then under the craft beer tent will not only be local fresh handcrafted beer, but there's also ciders and coolers for other people to enjoy.”
This year the proceeds from the beer tent will be going towards supporting the Kenora-based women's shelter, Saakate House, and the Keewatin Curling Club.
Lysak said that she feels the festival has been successful because it creates an welcoming environment for artist and visitors.
“I think it's that sense of connecting to a place and to an experience,” she said.
“We've tried to create something that is authentic, something where there aren't a lot of line-ups. There's only one stage. That is by design. We want people to feel that this is their festival.”
“We also want the artists to want to come to the Moose N' Fiddle,” she continued.
“We're a long way from nowhere, so to attract them, to entice them, it takes more than good will.”
It takes a lot of work to put on a successful festival year after year, and Lysak said it also takes a lot of support.
“A lot of kudos or cheers should go to the sponsors and the township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls,” she said.
“This mayor and council, and the one previous, really, they made a bold move and they took a risk . . . it was one that allowed us to really develop an identity for the festival, and I think, for the audiences to go 'ok, here's something we can do in the third week of August every year.'”
The festival also benefitted this year from some provincial funding. Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford announced on August 1 that the Moose N' Fiddle festival would be receiving just under $12,000 from Celebrate Ontario.
“The Moose N' Fiddle music festival is a great asset to our Northwestern Ontario summers and I am proud to announce provincial funding to support this fantastic event,” Rickford said in a press release.
“Our government is proud to support festivals across the province and it is especially great to support festivals that bring people to our beautiful provincial parks here in Kenora-Rainy River.”
Lysak extended her thanks to all the sponsors and supporters for helping to make the Moose N' Fiddle run, including Celebrate Ontario, Copperfin Credit Union, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company and the local radio station.
Lysak encouraged everyone to head out to Caliper Lake to enjoy the music and wilderness that the Moose N' Fiddle has to offer.
“We'd love to see them there,” she said.
“It is rain or shine, that's true, but we have some tents that provide some shade from the sun and some relief from the wet weather, if the clouds do happen to come our way.”
Tickets are still available online and will be available for purchase at the festival gates. For more information head to www.moosenfiddle.ca.