Manitoulin Country Fest is not only a business for its proprietors, but it has also become a popular attraction that, for four or five days, brings numbers of people to Little Current and to Manitoulin.
The event is also popular locally and brings many, many Island country music fans to see and hear their favourite artists.
After four years, Manitoulin Country Fest plans to abandon its initial venue at Low Island Park in Little Current and, instead, relocate to a larger property on the edge of Little Current that has been acquired by the Manitoulin Country Fest organization.
That is the preference of the Manitoulin Country Fest organization and this was made very clear in interviews with this newspaper.
It’s also a logical progression: now that the event is established, it can move onto its own property, build a permanent stage and other permanent facilities rather than rent them annually. A permanent stage means the Manitoulin Country Fest organization may also be able to mount several outdoor events during the festival season, or, indeed, lease it to other groups interested in mounting festivals on Manitoulin.
Manitoulin Country Fest, like Haweater Weekend and smaller events like Canada Day, are assets to Little Current. If, in its new location, it is able to mount more events, this will be even more beneficial to the Little Current business community.
Presently, the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Island is working on an agreement, to which any organization, including Manitoulin Country Fest, will have to agree in the interest of local taxpayers.
For Manitoulin Country Fest, and for the Northeast Town for that matter, this amounts to a growth in sophistication.
It’s important that all parties to this process understand this; that the municipality has responsibility to all of its citizens while at the same time creating an appropriate municipal environment in which a variety of events can take place.
Fans should understand that there is a protocol that must be put in place so there is no exposed liability for either the Country Fest impresarios or the host municipality, the Northeast Town.
We certainly support Manitoulin Country Fest remaining in or close to Little Current, on property the organizers purchased for exactly this purpose and we look forward to a satisfactory agreement being put in place that satisfies the needs of both the Northeast Town and Manitoulin Country Fest.