Top News

Nova Scotia Summer Fest could be added to Antigonish’s summer attractions

Ray Mattie addressing Antigonish Town Council Sept. 17 about the proposed Nova Scotia Summer Fest; a two-day musical festival organizers would like to hold at Columbus Field in August of 2019.
Ray Mattie addressing Antigonish Town Council Sept. 17 about the proposed Nova Scotia Summer Fest; a two-day musical festival organizers would like to hold at Columbus Field in August of 2019. - Richard MacKenzie

Presentation on event given to town council Sept. 17

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - A major music festival is being proposed for Antigonish’s downtown.

If organizers can get the OKs they need to proceed, Nova Scotia Summer Fest would be a two-day musical celebration at Columbus Field in Antigonish, in late August of 2019.

Ray Mattie, a well-known local musician and entrepreneur who ran for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2017 provincial election, made a presentation to Antigonish Town Council Sept. 17, with the request to secure Columbus Field as a venue and in-kind support in terms of “aid and public relations.”

“The reason for that is, an event of this level, with that name, it needs to be somewhere where you can have foot traffic. That means the locals can get there quickly and easily, and people from outside, there would be a lot of friends and family they could stay with. And it would be centrally located where those who come in would have an easier time finding it,” Mattie said as part of his presentation, which took place during council’s regular monthly public meeting.

He also elaborated on “in-kind staffing.”

“We’re not looking for cash; it’s the people help,” he said.

Mattie said the goal of the festival would be to use the profits generated to go towards summer music programs in town for youth.

“Starting in 2020; we need 2019 to create the capital to begin with. The idea being, those kids would meet the artists,” he said, adding they would also get to see how the technicians, and others involved in putting a festival together, do their jobs.

“Seeing how these things are put together, not just the final product.”

Mattie went into detail about the team already put together to work towards getting the festival off-the-ground, and that it would be an event which wouldn’t just be centered on the activities around the stage, but would make a point of marketing the entire area.

“A celebration of Nova Scotia music, Canadian music, unique foods, craft beers, and so on,” he said. “With a major focus on the local entities, right here in the town and county, similar to the Antigonish Art Fair, but bringing in some more from around the province.

“The big point is to highlight the eco-tourism; both the Keppoch and I was talking to the tuna charter association on the shore because they’re looking for a way to extend their market.”

      A mandate statement was part of the presentation’s slide-show.

“Our mandate is to develop and grow Antigonish town and county into a world-class event and ecotourism destination and to provide Youth Summer Music Camps and Instruments, in our community,” it read.

He noted the title Nova Scotia Summer Fest is used to help with the marketing of the event as the use of the province’s full name, as opposed to Antigonish, will capture more eyes online and through other methods.

“Marketing-wise it [using Antigonish] just doesn’t work,” he said, talking to the Casket following the presentation.

“A lot of people misspell it or they say it wrong but under the Nova Scotia banner, and it’s trademarked, we instantly fit in with a whole other dynamic, even within Canadian tourism. We don’t need to have a Nova Scotia event in Halifax or Cape Breton every time, we can have it in Antigonish … it’s Nova Scotia.”

He noted the not-for-profit group has been working on their plans since December of last year and have now come to a point of approaching the town.

“Once the venue is secured, then we have the opportunity to attempt to secure a high level act, Canadian or otherwise, because no one is going to sign a contract unless they know where they’re playing and what is involved,” he said.

Asked to compare their vision to another already established festival, Mattie said the point is to be unique.

“Honestly, we purposely made it so it wouldn’t be,” he said, stressing the marketing of the area aspect.

“I’ve played, literally, hundreds, and I’ve taken bits and pieces from them; the Irish fests in America, the Scottish fests here, the folk festivals or rock. We really want to make it so the locals can participate in an economic way.”

At the conclusion of council’s meeting, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher was asked about the presentation and concept.

“Very interesting; to have something of that caliber within the community of Antigonish would be phenomenal,” she said.

“It looks like they’ve done so much work on it, it’s so well thought out. Ray Mattie has a lot of experience in the entertainment industry, especially the music field, and I have no doubt he has done his research. He seems to have a very good working group together and, again, it sounds fantastic.”

Boucher said the town will have to consider the requests to see if they’re feasible, adding “I’m hoping we could work something out.”

Recent Stories