When construction industry veteran and avid motorcyclist Mike Dunphy last attended the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, he witnessed Kid Rock perform before a crowd of some 75,000 fans. It was an experience that left him with a positive impression.
Returning home to Wasaga Beach Ontario, Dunphy met with fellow construction vet Fab Loranger, head of Fort Saskatchewan Alberta-based Taurus Projects and discussed the possibilities of staging concerts in Ontario featuring Kid Rock on a Saturday and Lynyrd Skynyrd on a Friday.
The end result of that informal, social chat between the two associates is a four-night monster rock concert, Roxodus Festival to be staged Thursday, July 11th through to Sunday, July 14th at the Edenvale Airport site at Clearview Township near Stayner Ontario (North West of Barrie). Aside from Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd, this high profile event also features Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Peter Frampton, Collective Soul, Blondie, Billy Idol and a selection of top Canadian artists including Nickelback, Big Wreck, Prism, Streetheart, I Mother Earth, Saga, The Headpins and Theory Of A Deadman.
“Initially it was just two construction guys chatting about how we could replicate that Kid Rock experience in Ontario,” reflected Dunphy calling in from the Edenvale site where construction is well underway for the event. “And then when we secured Kid Rock for Saturday and Lynyrd Skynyrd for Friday we decided to add some support bands and eventually the event grew to a four-day festival.”
Dunphy is the first person to admit that he knew nothing about concert festival promotion, but for someone who has been involved in a number of high profile construction projects, he reasoned how difficult could it be to stage a music festival. “Constructing a building from scratch has the same synergy as creating a music festival, it’s the same culture” he allowed. “You start off with an empty field, you bring in all the raw materials, the fencing, the staging and you build your site.”
Of course, major U.S agencies which represent the all-star talent which Roxodus has assembled were less than impressed when Dunphy made his initial overtures to them. “I am sure they saw us coming and charged us much more than the going rate,” Dunphy mused. “They were like. `who is this fucking Canadian construction guy’ right off the top they wanted 100% deposits up front. My response was, `If we can agree on this, you will have the funds in your bank account in the next half an hour! That statement changed their attitudes drastically!”
The fact that Dunphy “threw a ton of money at Aerosmith” to get Roxodus to extend the festival to Sunday, showed the event organizers had a `go big or go home’ attitude about this event. “We could go big and lose or we can go big and win, but going big is how we do things in construction,” noting the talent bill alone tops $10 million.
Where to stage the festival proved to be the next challenge for Dunphy. “We looked at a number of potential sites in the Hamilton/ Niagara region before we found the Edenvale Airport site. We bought 70 acres at the north end of the site and we leased the rest of the airport.” he enthused. “We have almost 600 acres of space plus we have a landing strip for the bands to fly in on their own private planes.”
Obviously, the site location is well outside any major metropolitan area and there is a severe lack of hotel accommodation but Dunphy expects to negate this by providing camping and RV sites as well as luxury Glamping and Coleman tent set-ups located on a private lake for those looking for a VIP experience. “We are only 90 minutes North of Toronto and we have a fleet of buses leaving from Collingwood, Barrie, Wasaga Beach,” informed Dunphy. “We have already sold more than 20,000 four-day passes and we are confident we will be at capacity for our camping and RV sites.”
And for festival goers arriving at the site on Wednesday, July 10, organizers will stage a special campsite concert featuring Montreal’s The Box.
General public prices are a reasonable $129.00 for one day and $339.00 for a four-day pass but for those who want to go the luxury route, there are one-day VIP passes at $229 and four-day passes at $639. And the organizers are going all out to create a luxury experience similar to that created at California’s Coachella Festival which is usually dripping with celebrities and first-rate entertainment.
“Neil Ryan, who is production director for Coachella, Stagecoach and Desert Trip festivals has organized an Ultimate VIP Lounge which is a 1,500 sq foot lounge filled with all sorts of amenities,” boasted Dunphy. “Then we have a Chef Culinary Experience with a special cuisine menu created by top Canadian chefs; Lynn Crawford and Massimo Capra.”
And for those wishing to arrive at the festival in style, a fleet of Toronto-based limousines are on call or you can fly in by private plane or helicopter (courtesy of Essential Helicopters).
“When we checked out Coachella we realized that aside from the facilities, what people wanted from a VIP experience is to meet the stars and hang out backstage,” noted Dunphy. “So we will be trying to create that ultimate experience.”
Dunphy’s investment group are planning at least two major festivals per year moving forward and his primary goal is to make this year’s event a satisfying experience for all concerned.
“Obviously, we want to generate a financial return for our investors but we want to make sure that the bands’ love their experience here, that they think this was unbelievable,” mused Dunphy. “They have access to a private airport, they are in cottage country, a freshwater beach up the road. The key thing is to show these folks that we are the real deal.
For complete artist lineups, ticket, accommodation and transportation information, please link to https://roxodus.com