Although Summerfolk 2020 is cancelled, the Georgian Bay Folk Society has announced a virtual Sunday night event to celebrate what would have been the 45th Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival. On August 23rd, the virtual event will be simultaneously streamed on the Summerfolk website and social media accounts, and broadcast on AM 560 CFOS.


Dubbed “Summerfolk 2020 – A Virtual Night at the Festival”, the event will include musical performances by 6 acts, archival footage, and the traditional opening and closing songs.


“We couldn’t let a summer go by without putting something on, even if we can’t gather in person”, said Summerfolk Artistic Director James Keelaghan. “It won’t be the full festival experience but it will have enough of the musical essence to give folks a boost”.


The musical lineup includes local favourites, award winning artists from across Canada, and veteran Summerfolk performers. Notably, local musical stalwarts The MacKenzie Blues Band and Larry Jensen will both return to the Summerfolk stage. Winnipeg’s, the Small Glories will also return, having performed at the festival in 2016.Shane Pendergast, one of the bright lights from this year’s Youth Discoveries series will appear virtually for the first time at Summerfolk.  Juno award winner Celeigh Cardinal will make her debut appearance as well and three-time Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster will be back to round out the bill with her signature blues and gospel sound. Following Summerfolk tradition, the stream will be piped in and piped out by Grier Coppins.


“One of the things people love most about Summerfolk is the opportunity to discover new music. Celeigh Cardinal will be that for people this year”, Keelaghan said. “I wanted to bring back performers that people loved and add some new talent to surprise them. You’ll be able to tune in, turn up the sound, and picture yourself at Kelso Beach”.


In the two hours leading up to the 7pm broadcast, Summerfolk has partnered with Bayshore Broadcasting to host a live call in and music show so patrons, volunteers, and performers can enjoy songs from festival favourites and share their Summerfolk memories.  The virtual event is free to watch on all platforms and organizers are encouraging groups to watch with family and host watch parties online. There will also be a donation button on the website for audience members who want to contribute to Summerfolk and support the performers. The Georgian Bay Folks Society is also making a limited number of commemorative t-shirts available to mark the event. The shirts will feature the Summerfolk logo with the message “we will meet again”.


According to Keelaghan, the virtual event is both a reminder of the festival and a promise that Summerfolk will return.


“The festival will rise again. In the meantime we can stay safe, celebrate great music, and support the people who make it”.


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