'It gets bigger and bigger every year', Manitoulin Country Fest drawing thousands to the island
Published Friday, August 11, 2017 5:23PM EDT
Manitoulin Country Fest is once again drawing big crowd to the island.
The festival got going Thursday night, and Friday's entertainment will feature local star Crystal Shawanda, Michelle Wright and Dwight Yoakum.
People are coming from all over; with many arriving in in RV's and trailers.
The RV area is packed, along with the campgrounds.
Kay Rivers and her friends made the trip from Belleville.
"We like to travel and we like to try the different ones and this is totally different than anyone we've done before," Rivers said.
Dan and Lee-Anne Sabourin come every year. It's their summer tradition
"Good time to meet new people and see old friends. It's a lot of fun," said Dan.
"It gets bigger and bigger every year," added Lee-Anne.
That includes the camping aspect of the festival.
According to those who run Country Fest, it had a modest start 11 years ago
The event is being held at the permanent stage built in Little Current five years ago.
Organizers said more than 500 RVs will help fill the campground, with 7,000 visitors attending the concerts each night.
"This year some actually arrived on the Sunday of the holiday weekend," said KT Timmermans, Manitoulin Country Fest organizer.
The event's lead organizer says campers come early; which is beneficial to prevent congestion and more importantly - a boost in tourism.
"We are finding that a lot of people are coming out to the Cup and Saucer Trail, to Bridal Veil Falls, they are getting out to other communities on the island. From a business perspective, from an economic development perspective, that's so huge for our local economy."
Campers are encouraged to get creative; some go full out to win the best decorated RV.
"What you see out here is a lot of Canadian flags. We are celebrating 150 years of Canada," said Dwight Hein, who is camping out at the festival.
Even though this year’s edition of Country Fest is not even half way over, plans for next year and beyond are underway.
On Friday, people were lined up to book a camping spot for as many as three years down the line.