There was plenty of energy and enthusiasm from Nova Scotia Summer Fest founder Ray Mattie and CTV personality Ana Almeida as they co-hosted a ‘kick-off’ event, June 21, for the festival which is coming to Keppoch Mountain, Antigonish County, Aug. 23 and 24.
“I’m pumped; I have cramps from smiling,” Mattie said with a chuckle as the evening event, held at Antigonish Education Centre and purposely scheduled for the first day of summer, wound-down.
“That is not to say there are still not things to come together in the puzzle, but all the pieces are coming like this now,” Mattie said, starting his hands outstretched and, gradually, bringing them together.
Summer Fest is a music festival which will see the likes of Classified, Alan Doyle, the Good Lovelies, Heather Rankin, Christine Campbell, Slowcoaster, Hillsburn, McGinty, Pineo and Loeb, as well as sister duo Cassie and Maggie who have deep family roots in Antigonish, and Antigonish’s own Anna Ludlow, take the stage over the two days.
Mattie, a well-known musician, announced during the event he’ll also be performing.
“I’m going to play a few songs myself because I have a new album,” he said.
Additional artists announced during the event included Pretty Archie, Eddie Cummings, Andrew Hunter, Maura Whitman and Brent Collins.
Mattie noted the event was a good opportunity to bring together the various vendors, mostly food, which will be part of Summer Fest. Each came to the front of the room and joined Almeida who asked them a few questions.
“I wanted them, who knew each other at arm’s length, to meet face-to-face since they will all be standing side-by-side,” Mattie said, choosing a rhythmic description. “It’s important to have diversity in the vendors, so we don’t have five people serving the same thing. They all have a unique niche they’re extremely good at.”
Vendors are listed on the festival’s website – novascotiasummerfest.ca – along with all other pertinent information.
As for new developments in the past month, Mattie started with “it’s finalized” and noted additional exposure is getting the word out.
“Virgin Radio is pumping it mega-hard in Halifax; they’re talking about it in the city. I have had to even correct them that it’s not ‘Keep-pock Mountain,’ it’s Keppoch Mountain,” Mattie said, again with a chuckle.
“But now they know and that is why it’s called Nova Scotia Summer Fest – it’s not just Antigonish and Guysborough. We’re represented now with companies from the Valley, Halifax as well as all the locals; unique stuff here that needs to be at the forefront.”
He talked about the diversity of the musical line-up.
“I didn’t want it to be just roots,” he said. “We have awesome fiddlers, singers and folk songwriters, but we also have a great rapper, a couple of amazing rock guitarists and a hip-hop dance band who are huge in Central America, and we’re going to introduce them to our backyard.”
Mattie noted the event is less than two months away and he “couldn’t be happier.”
“I can’t wait until the date comes that we get it all rolling,” he said. “The sound crews are ready, the bands are ready; it has been 18 months and it’s almost here.”
And Keppoch is ready, Mattie said.
“If this was four years ago they wouldn’t have been ready and I wouldn’t have been ready,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do this my whole life but it takes years and years of performing at events and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
“I took bits and pieces of all the things I’ve learned over the years and location is pivotal.”
Keppoch general manager Paul Basile said hosting the event is about raising “awareness” of what’s available at the site.
“We always ask groups, how many people have been to Keppoch? Half the people in this room raised their hands, which is great, but this is the kind of thing we need, the kind of promotion which is going to get every hand in a room raised,” Basile said. “That’s our goal.”
Basile also talked about the goal of getting people physically active.
“Get people outside, families active together. Here it’s hiking, mountain biking, physical activity … accessible physical activity. It’s everything about Nova Scotia; it’s everything great about living here,” he said.
“And this is the exact kind of partner we need to bring that awareness, that PR, and get the message out about what we have.”