Havelock Country Jamboree: Best Beats Biggest Every Time


By Keith Sharp

Paula Chopik and Ed Leslie
Paula Chopik and Ed Leslie

Orillia area’s Boots N Hearts, Kitchener’s  CMT Fest or even the Cavendish Music Festival in Prince Edward Island , may battle for national attention but when it comes to prime country music festivals, none of these events can compare to the historical significance of the Havelock Country Jubilee, set to celebrate its 27th anniversary with a four-day festival set to run from Thursday August 18th until Sunday August 21st.

Launched in August 1990 by Ed Leslie and his partner Paula Chopik, Leslie had gotten his feet wet helping to organize the historic Rock N Roll Revival at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium in September 1969 (which starred John Lennon and Eric Clapton) and was looking at launching his own event.

By 1990, Leslie was convinced that rock concerts were dying out and that the new trend was towards country music festivals so he eyed some parkland at Havelock, a sleepy hamlet located near Peterborough Ontario and set about launching one of Canada’s first country music festivals.

“We did the first jamboree long before Country Music actually made it’s big rally back to the airwaves,” noted Leslie in a prepared statement.” “It wasn’t until a few years later that Country Music began to rise and capture the attention of a new, younger generation. By that time, we were already established as a Country Jamboree.”

Jess Moskaluke
Jess Moskaluke

Leslie is aware that some of the newer festivals boast big ticket artists and ticket prices at these events are in line with major rock festivals. Yet the Havelock Jamboree retains a family ambience by keeping the ticket prices low, $300 for all four days, $160 for a one day pass with children nine years and under are admitted free of charge.

With ample camping on site, Havelock markets itself as a family festival and according to event organizer Jennifer Goheen, the lure of Havelock is it’s tradition of attracting fans who come back year after year for the festival’s unique ambience and atmosphere.

“Attending Havelock has become a tradition, people plan their holidays to come here every year and we present the Jamboree as a family event,” Goheen notes. “People can bring their own water and supplies, we are trying to make the festival experience as pleasant as we can.”

Talent wise, the decline of the Canadian dollar against the U.S currency and competition for big names from other festivals has affected the planning to some degree yet Goreen notes that Havelock is still a high priority with the artists.

The Road Hammers

“This year we have major artists like The Band Perry, Sammy Kershaw and Asleep At The Wheel but we also have a great Canadian lineup with artists like Chad Brownlee, The Road Hammers, Jess Moskaluke and Terri Clark,” enthused Goheen. “Canadian country music has exploded so much that it is easy to fill the lineup with domestic talent.  And with Havelock boasting an impressive twin-stage setup, there is little or no delay between performances.”

As Leslie himself surmised; “These days, it no longer concerns us if we are the biggest, we concentrate on being the best . “We want our fans to have the whole “country experience” so we built a park with all the facilities so people can really enjoy their stay.”

For complete ticket information and lineup schedules, please link to


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