‘We can be in the entertainment game’
Nova Scotia Summer Fest in Antigonish has high expectations
MONIQUE CHIASSON THE CASKET
While many people are counting the days until the heat and events that come with summer, Antigonish is providing another reason to highlight August on the calendar. Nova Scotia Summer Fest is returning to the community, from Aug. 17 to 19, at Columbus Field. Ray Mattie, founder and executive director of Nova Scotia Summer Fest, is busy preparing for what’s expected to be another successful event that pairs high quality musical entertainment and outstanding food and drink. Music-wise, some of the talent will include Matt Andersen and The Big Bottle of Joy, Natalie Macmaster, Jimmy Rankin, Back to Our Roots and Mattie’s band Ocean Playground, to name only a few. “The groups we pick have an international resumé. It highlights some of the best in Atlantic Canada and, in some cases, across the country … and each region is represented,” said Mattie of the entertainment. “It’s a high-scale musical production with regards to the acts (and) the production itself … with big screens and staging.” Food is another special aspect of Summer Fest. New this year is the Nova Scotia Summer Fest Cookout, which will take place on Aug. 17. “We’re trying to marry the high-quality music with highquality food and beverage to make it a truly Nova Scotia summer festival,” said Mattie. Returning will be the popular oyster bar and other Nova Scotia food and drinks. There will also be an expansion of unique food vendors on site and a focus on buying local. For the first time, a cookout will take place. “Based on the success (of the event) we already had included Nova Scotia food on site before,” so the idea was to enhance that experience, said Mattie. As of press time for this paper, details were still forthcoming about the cookout, but it’s known it will include oysters, Just Us Fair Trade Coffee and much more. The festival, which began in 2019, is important for many reasons, said Mattie. “It shows we have a small, quaint and charming downtown that is showcased in a larger content. We can be in the entertainment game. It shows our community participants support it because they want it,” he said. And attracting varied food vendors is also significant. “It’s important to (attract) more from across Nova Scotia because we are bringing them into our town and introducing locals and tourists to a variety of vendors they may know casually and can get to know better. It (also) highlights the high-scale food and beverages we have.” There are also financial and tourism components to consider. “It’s extremely important to Antigonish. Financially, just our contributions alone has the festival spending more than $80,000. Our marketing reach and campaign has been able to (attract) tourists … from all over Nova Scotia and worldwide.” Last year was the first Summer Fest after a break due to COVID-19. “Because it was the first year back after COVID, there were a lot of unknowns, especially with people travelling and wanting to travel,” said Mattie. But the event was a success, with tourists arriving from every province and territory and visitors coming from the United States, Germany, France, the U.K. and Australia, said Mattie. He estimated the attendance last year was just under 3,200. “This year I’d love to have at least that. I think this year will be even better. We want to give people value for their dollar. “There’s a sense of community and we, as a people, want to be out and social. There’s a comfort level again, there’s pent-up demand and more comfort going out.” For details on events – including the cookout and themes such as Blues Night Out and Back to Our Roots food, musicians, ticket prices and more, go online to novascotiasummerfest.ca. Tickets are now on sale.