Manitoulin Country Fest starts tonight, Wednesday, August 8

Billy Ray Cyrus takes to the Country Fest stage this Friday, August 10 at 10 pm. photo courtesy Facebook

LITTLE CURRENT—The 12th annual Manitoulin Country Fest is returning to Little Current this week, promising good times and a “little bit of something for everyone” with performances running from Wednesday, August 8, to Saturday, August 11, including Billy Ray Cyrus of “Achy Breaky Heart” fame headlining the show.

“It’s a large festival with an intimate kind of feel,” says Country 103’s KT Timmermans, co-organizer of the festival alongside her husband Craig.

Country Fest events start the day before the festival shows, beginning Wednesday evening. The first event is a sold-out fundraising boat cruise with North Channel Cruise Line, featuring music by George Canyon. This is the third year of the fundraising cruise and proceeds are going to the Manitoulin Diabetes Network.

Also on Wednesday is the Kick-Off to Country Fest party at the Anchor Inn, which gets underway at 8 pm. The 19+ event has a $5 cover charge, with funds also going to the Manitoulin Diabetes Network. Toronto-born singer-songwriter Nate Daviau will be there performing original songs and covers. Ms. Timmermans says she hopes to donate upwards of $10,000 through the pre-festival events.

The festival officially gets underway at the Flat Rock Entertainment Centre Thursday, August 9, with headline performances by Genevieve Fisher, River Town Saints and George Canyon between 7 and 11:15 pm.

Friday’s programming starts at 4:30 pm with Brea Lawrenson, followed by performances from Beverley Mahood, Carroll Baker and Aaron Goodvin until 9:30 pm. At 10 pm, internationally award-winning musician and actor Billy Ray Cyrus takes the stage. His set runs until 11:15 pm.

On Saturday, August 11, Kyle Dunn kicks things off at 2 pm. The programming continues until 11:30 pm, featuring Dani Strong, Andrew Hyatt, Leaving Thomas, Dan Davidson, Emerson Drive and Lee Brice.

“The fact that we have this level of talent in Little Current is pretty mind-blowing,” says Ms. Timmermans.

The festival is a family-friendly venue, with on-site camping available to pre-book. In addition to the adults-only beer tent, the TD Family Fun Zone is back again. This year, it features new inflatables, face painting and demonstrations by Science North. All programming within the TD Family Fun Zone is free.

There will not be much on-site programming before the shows begin in the afternoons, according to Ms. Timmermans.

“We want to encourage our attendees to go out and explore the Island rather than holding them here,” she says.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s Songwriter Showcase cruise. It runs from 11 am until 1 pm and features Genevieve Fisher, Aaron Goodvin and Beverley Mahood. The musicians will perform and share stories behind their original music. A buffet barbecue lunch is included in the ticket price, and bar service is available on board. Tickets are available through North Channel Tours at northchanneltours.com.

Ms. Timmermans says the Manitoulin Country Fest can be a great time, regardless of your music tastes.

“There’s nothing like live entertainment and the camaraderie it brings. There are always good times to be had with old and new friends,” she says.

All tickets will be physical copies to be picked up at the entrance gates. Patrons can order online or pay at the gate. The festival website, manitoulincountryfest.com, has a FAQ page for general information. The Country 103 office in downtown Little Current will be closed this week, however they will have an answering service available at 1-866-755-7425.

The Flat Rock Entertainment Centre is located at 181 Harbour View Rd., on the south side of Little Current. Doors open an hour before the start time of all shows. Tickets and passes are still available as of press time on Monday.