At the end of each successful season, Peterborough Musicfest general manager, Tracey Randall analyses crowd attendance and assesses whether the talent she books for the Wednesday/Saturday, twice weekly free concerts at the picturesque Del Crary Park actually matches the people attending those events.
“In the past, our average age attendance has been around 60 but more recently we are getting more 35-40-year-olds,” noted Randall who has served as the event’s chief talent booker for seven of the event’s 33 years. “So our goal is now to attract a younger demographic to the park. We live on our sponsorship dollars which are provided by local businesses and it’s this age group which boasts a higher income.”
With the demise of the local Way Home Festival, Randall has the opportunity to program more alternative artists and this year has booked alt-rockers Save The Whale with Paper Shakers July 17th, Virginia To Vegas July 20th, and the ever-popular Dwayne Gretzky August 14th.
A major coup is the booking of City And Colour’s – Dallas Green to kick off the season’s schedule Saturday, June 29th with the event debut of the newly reunited Crash Test Dummies July 13th. Rockers haven’t been totally ignored with the likes of Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs July 24th and Vancouver’s 54:40 July 31st set to appear. “We will also debut hip-hop for the first time with k-os and Five Alarm Funk, July 3rd“ Randall announced.
Aware that major ticketed Country Music festivals are providing strong competition, Randall has only provided two Country Music spots Chad Brownlee, August 7th and The Reklaws/Emily Reid August 10th but has maintained her support for tribute bands, booking Rod Stewart tribute Forever Young July 1st, We Ain’t Petty – Tom Petty tribute August 3rd and AC/DC tribute, Thunderstruck August 10th as well as the multi-formatted Dwayne Gretzky.
And as for the younger fans, Randall is bringing in teenage heartthrob Tyler Shaw July 27th and to appeal to a wider audience, alt-folk band, Rural Alberta Advantage with The Elwins August 17 and The Sultans Of String July 6th.
“In the end, it’s all about diversity,” Randall notes. “It’s hard to please everyone but we’ve been doing well for the past four years. Last year we attracted more than 144,000 people which is a 14% increase over the previous year.”
Keeping entertainment free is the on-going challenge for Randall as many major festivals face severe funding cuts by the Ontario’s provincial government but she notes her annual event brings in more than $5 million to the local economy over an eight-week period which allows her access to some funding and grants from the city, municipality and province. “And we have a very loyal sponsorship from local businesses, without this support, we wouldn’t be here today” Randall admitted.
What Randall is doing is executing a type of ‘Go Fund Me’ drive for local fans to donate funds to support the festival. “We call it `Invest In Music Fest’. We are asking for local support if they could reach into their pockets and help out, after all, it is their festival.”
Another objective is to reach outside of the area and attract out of town fans to come into Peterborough’s cottage region, to spend the weekend, vacation or even move to the area permanently. “Everybody in Peterborough knows about our Wednesday and Saturday concerts, we have the city covered,” enthused Randall. “But it would be great if we could pull more visitors from places like Barrie, Kingston or Brockville. We know we get out of town visitors but this is by word of mouth, it would be great if we had an advertising budget to appeal to other areas.”
A passionate advocate of the festival and its continued claim of providing free musical entertainment, Randall boasts that the Peterborough Musicfest continues to produce diverse cultural music to a region that otherwise might not be able to spend $100 to go and see Serena Ryder in Toronto.
“My goal is to continue the beautiful tradition that our founder Fred Anderson set in 1987 when he launched the festival,” mused Randall. “We continue to offer free music and the festival continues to grow. We must be doing something right!”
For a complete 2019 Peterborough Musicfest schedule, please link to https://www.ptbomusicfest.ca