More than 25 years ago a group of friends who loved music and had a passion for the ecology of the boreal forest, created a music festival in what had been a cattle pasture just north-east of Big River. With a makeshift stage, a few local bands, and a group of passionate friends, the Ness Creek Music Festival began.
Today, the same site is home to what is often referred to as the world’s largest family reunion.
What makes Ness Creek Music Festival unique is that this event is not just about music.
It is an experience, so unique, that participants feel like they are home, with family. The festival has gone from those few friends to over 3,500 yearly visitors and yet maintains that feeling of family.
They do this through the power of Indie, Roots and Folk music intertwined with over 100 different activities; by mixing performers with listeners; by creating an atmosphere that is equally enjoyable for the children as for the great – grandparents; by bringing all types of people into a beautiful northern wilderness experience.
“We have had many people tell us over and over through the years that people come here not knowing anyone, and leave feeling part of an extended family,” says Ana-Pietje Du Plessis who is the Marketing, Communications, Administration Manager for the Society. “What we see now is such a vast demographic of people from university students, to young families, to grandparents and great-grandparents all enjoying the music, the programming, and the experience together.”
The Ness Creek Music Festival experience then, is more than music.
As the years have passed and both the site and the festival have developed, ideas have grown along the way as to how to make the festival an experience - how to have participants take away more than great music, but also knowledge about ecology, culture, story and art.
“We have developed a number of workshops to be part of the weekend,” reflects Ana-Pietje Du Plessis. “We have musical workshops that cover everything from drumming to didgeridooing, ecological workshops on things like permaculture, and several cultural programming workshops such as saree draping, a sweat lodge ceremony, First Nations Myths and Legends, and Folk Dance.”
She also points to the children’s musical workshops led by Main Stage performers.
“We are really trying to encourage the children to find an interest in music. It is great to see these musicians on stage performing and then working one on one with the kids. That is another aspect of our festival; the performers are part of the family. There is no separation.”
Also for the kids, Ness Creek is welcoming back the Nash Street Circus Arts Collective which had people learning circus skills throughout the weekend.
Of course music is the primary focus of the weekend and Ness Creek Music Festival has evolved from a few local bands to National and International performers. Nevertheless, the ideal of promoting Saskatchewan remains a strong part of the Ness Creek Cultural and Recreational Society mandate. Of all the acts, over 80 % of them are from Saskatchewan and 50% of the mainstage acts are from Saskatchewan. For a full line-up to date visit http://www.nesscreekmusicfestival.com/lineup-2017 and keep an eye out for the full festival program
The Ness Creek Music Festival is July 13-16. Tickets are now available for purchase online at: http://www.nesscreekmusicfestival.com/buy-tickets
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