Waskesiu Lakeside Music Festival shines spotlight on Saskatchewan talent

Lakeside Music Festival Photo The Waskesiu Lakeside Music Festival runs from Aug. 25 to 27 in Waskesiu.

Music lovers looking for one last blast of summer can enjoy it this weekend at the Waskesiu Lakeside Music Festival.

Organizing committee member Jim Kerby said the festival gives music lovers a great weekend of music in a great atmosphere.

“It’s just a three day weekend of free, family friendly music in the heart of Waskesiu,” Kerby said. “It starts Friday evening with the Sunset Stage and runs through on Saturday with a full Main Stage from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Then on Sunday, we’ve added a Sunday Street Fair with music from noon to five and a small local car show and Indigenous talent showcase.”

The Waskesiu Lakeside Music Festival has been around since 2015. It was originally a project by Parks Canada to try to draw crowds on an otherwise quiet weekend to help out businesses located in the park.

“It has succeeded in that, but the community took over running the festival in 2019 and has been doing it since that time,” Kerby explained. “It’s been growing every year, so we think it’s been a good positive economic impact to Waskesiu but it’s also just a wonderful family event.”

Friday night kicks off with Sammy Lee Folkerson at 5 p.m. followed by Josh Palmer at 6 p.m. and Jay Semko at 7 p.m. The “Lakeside Kick-off” Cabaret hosted by Friends of the Park at Terrace Gardens opens doors at 8:30 p.m., with a cover charge of $20.

“We’re very pleased with the artists,” Kerby said. “We focused mostly on the Saskatchewan talent and there’s no exception this year. We also tried to make priority for First Nation and Metis performers, so we’ve added a number of those in the last number of years and that’s been a really successful part of what we do.”

This year’s artists on Saturday include the Longwalkers Drum Group, Lancelot Knight, the Eileen Laverty Duo, Lost Highway Navigators, Hoop Dancer Lawrence Roy Jr., Mudd Brothers, JJ Lavallee, Oral Fuentes Reggae Band, Sammy Lee and Friends, Velvet Threads and Heidi Munro and the RealGroovy Band.

“We have got a really, really great Metis fiddler in JJ Lavallee and a number of the performers on both Saturday and Sunday have got Indigenous backgrounds, and we think that’s wonderful,” Kerby said.

Kerby said they like to emphasize that once gate admission is paid to the park, then the event is free.

On Saturday night is the “After Party” Cabaret hosted by the Grey Owl Center at Terrace Gardens, doors open at 9 p.m.

“It’s just a marvellous selection of music throughout the entire weekend,” he said. “There’s a cabaret on Friday night and Saturday night and those have a cover charge, but aside from that, everything is free to attend in beautiful Waskesiu.”

Sunday’s Street Fair features Roy, Raven Reid, Liza Brown and The Lost n’ Found Band, Lancelot Knight, Semko and Velvet Hand. There will also be other family friendly activities throughout the weekend.

“(There is) lots of things for the kids to do, including free face painting and bouncy castles,” Kerby said. “Mom and dad can listen to music and the kids can have a good time, and it’s pretty nice setting to do it all in.”

The Waskesiu Lakeside Music Festival is sponsored by Phantom Light Distillery and organized and hosted by the Waskesiu Recreation Association. For more information visit www.lakesidefestival.ca.