Bluegrass in the Country returns in June

An Espanola band, Avery Drive, will be one of the performers on hand for Bluegrass in the Country event, taking place in Providence Bay June 9-12.

PROVIDENCE BAY—With a major headliner in tow and with COVID-19 restrictions having been significantly reduced, the organizers of Bluegrass in the Country are looking forward to a larger attendance than the event has had in past years.

“There has been an awful lot of interest in this year’s show,” said John Featherstone, main organizer of the bluegrass music festival being held in Providence Bay June 9-12. “Providence Bay is booked solid for accommodations; you can’t find a place to stay and even in Mindemoya it’s the same story. We are expecting more people to attend this year’s show than we have had in the past.”

“The last show we put on was in 2019, and that was our tenth anniversary,” said Mr. Featherstone. “Claire Lynch is our headliner for this year’s show. She is one of the big wheels in bluegrass music in the US. I was fortunate to see her perform in Guelph in 2019.”

Ms. Lynch is “a seven-time International Bluegrass award winner, three times female vocalist of the year for the American version of Bluegrass Awards,” said Mr. Featherstone. “She also toured for two years with Dolly Parton and has performed with Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Rhonstadt. She will no doubt bring a lot of die-hard bluegrass fans to Manitoulin Island.”

Ms. Lynch has played numerous times at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, said Mr. Featherstone. “She has had the top gospel song of the year, ‘Dear Sister,’ which is also up for the Song of the Year Award.”

Mr. Featherstone outlined some of the other musicians that will be playing at Bluegrass in the Country. “We have the popular local country band Double Barrel, which features singer Jeff Gilmore, on hand.”

“We also have a young band from Espanola called Avery Drive,” said Mr. Featherstone. “This show will be the fist major festival where they have ever played.”

“Singer Bonita Mercer, who has a lot of family ties to Manitoulin, will be performing, as is local singer Robbie Shawana. And the Canucky Bluegrass Boys are back for another year.”

IIIrd Fox Out is another band from the Thessalon-Elliot Lake area that will be performing, as well as Alicia Robicheau, Sweetgrass, Rescue Junction, the Schotts and Granite Hill.

“On my list are a number of musicians who play for other good bands as well, who are coming up here just to jam with our festival performers,” said Mr. Featherstone. “I have never seen that before.  That should be quite a show in itself.”

Mr. Featherstone pointed out the Blue Grass Dinner Cruise aboard the Le Grand Heron cruise boat will take place on the Thursday evening before the Bluegrass Festival, and A.J. Bus Lines will be taking people from Providence Bay to Little Current for the related event.

Tickets for Bluegrass in the Country are available at The Manitoulin Expositor, Wiliamson’s Hardware in Mindemoya, Manitowaning Mill and Central Pharmacy in Gore Bay. A weekend pass still costs just $50. “This was our admission charge the last time we had this show as well,” said Mr. Featherstone.

Mr. Featherstone noted there are still plenty of camping non-hydro spots available on the Providence Bay Agricultural Society fairground property, with all hydro spaces having been sold out.

“We are looking forward to having everyone back to our show,” said Mr. Featherstone. All proceeds from the Bluegrass in the Country Festival go to Manitoulin Special Olympics.

For more information on the event, visit www.