Ness Creek Music Festival returns to celebrate culture

Photo by Nathan Puffalt A crowd shot from the Ness Creek Music Festival in 2019.

The Ness Creek Music Festival returns on July 13 to 16 at the Ness Creek Site northeast of Big River.

Carlie Letts, the Festival Manager for Volunteers, Sponsorship, and Year Round Events for Ness Creek, said the event will showcase what everyone has come to know and love about Ness Creek.

“We’re bringing back a lot of the old favourites that everybody’s come to know and love with the festival,” Letts said. “(We’re) super proud to present a minimum of 50 per cent Saskatchewan artists on the main stage and we’re able to bring back the community kitchen venue this year, which we weren’t able to do last year due to lack of volunteer numbers and COVID considerations. We’re pretty excited to bring that staple back to the festival this year.”

Prince Albert artists appearing over the three days include LJ Tyson, Cupid’s Heart and Patrick Moon Bird among others.

“Our artistic booking committee did a wonderful job this year of bringing a really diverse, eclectic range of artists to the main stage and to the various other venues at the festival site as well,” Letts said

“This year we’re offering a lot of Fransaskois programming with the Franco happy hour down at the drum and dance circle and our queerness space is back with a bunch of queer focused programming being hosted by the folks at Out Saskatoon. (Our) children’s Area is back, and as lively as ever with all of their children’s area programming.”

One example of children’s programming is Petunia of the Main Stage act Petunia and the Vipers, who will offer a Learn to Yodel workshop in the Children’s Area.

Letts has been with the festival for 12 years. She described the event as a 3,500-strong family reunion.

“Basically, (it’s a) little camping tent city in the forest for four days,” she said. “The programming is all focused on ecology, arts and music, all with a huge focus on the boreal forest setting that we’re in. Then we’ve got lots of different areas as far as camping for folks’ preferences, you know, we’ve got family camping so that people with young children can camp with like minded folks.”

They also have Camp Recovery for people who are in different stages of recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.

“(It’s) so they can still come and enjoy the festival without being in the midst of some of other party areas that are happening,” Letts explained. “Then we’ve also got the campgrounds where it’s for the folks who they want to come and not catch up on sleep and just have a great time taking in all the programming.”

The Festival did not run in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, but returned in 2022.

“Last year was when we finally got to celebrate our long awaited 30th anniversary because 2020 had been intended to be our 30th,” Letts explained. “This is technically our 31st music festival. That would be the 33rd year that the organization’s been in operation.”

Ness Creek Music Festival runs from July 13 to July 16 at the Ness Creek Site. The Main Stage closes with The Steadies on Thursday at midnight, Kalàscim featuring Andrea Ramol on Friday and the Pack A.D. On Saturday night.

Tickets are still available at the Ness Creek Music Festival website.

“We also have a few in-person ticket outlets around the province, Better off Duds in Saskatoon on 33rd Street, as well as Third and Main restaurants in Big River, if folks want to go in in person to get tickets,” Letts said. “Tickets will be available online until midnight Wednesday and then they will be available at the gate as well.”

Letts said that this will also feature credit and debit card purchases on site after working through some technology changes.