Riverfest Elora hosting ‘Wish You Were Here’ mini-festival Aug. 20-22

ELORA – For the first time since 2019, Riverfest Elora officials will be hosting a live music festival in the village.

“Wish You Were Here,” billed as a “carefully executed and socially distanced mini-festival,” is set for Aug. 20 to 22 at the Elora Centre for the Arts, where Riverfest began in 2009.

Riverfest manager and artistic director Spencer Shewen said organizers had planned “probably four other events” during the pandemic before finally getting a thumbs-up from the local health unit last week.

“We always kind of had in the back of our head that we wanted to do something,” Shewen told the Advertiser.

“If we could do it safely and we could do it following proper guidelines, we wanted to do something on what would have been the Riverfest Elora weekend this summer.”

Wish You Were Here will feature an all-Canadian lineup, including headliners Kardinal Offishall, The Trews and The Barr Brothers.

“For this one, we really wanted to showcase some past performers of the festival that were a favourite and then have a couple of artists that have never played the festival – like the Trews have never played Riverfest before – and then focus on some local talent as well, like Royal Castles or Middlebrook,” Shewen said.

He added artists are excited to be performing once again.

Only 430 tickets will be available for each day, in physically-distanced, six-by-six boxes of four.

Boxes will be organized by colour-coded sections, with festival goers wearing coloured wrist bands corresponding to specific colour-coded bars and washrooms – the idea being to keep cross-traffic down and make things safer.

A big factor in the decision to go ahead with the mini-fest came down to high vaccination rates, Shewen explained.

Festival officials will conduct COVID-19 screening at the gate, including temperature checks. Masks need to be worn when moving around the site and can come off once groups are in a box.

Food can be brought into the venue and light snacks are available at bar stands where beer will be served in cans (no reusable mugs this year).

Tickets are available online only and go on sale July 24 at 10am on the Riverfest Elora website.

The mini-festival will again continue with the Keychange pledge, which organizers call “a pioneering European initiative empowering women to transform the future of the music industry and encouraging festivals to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022.”

The full Wish You Were Here lineup is included below.

For tickets and more information visit www.riverfestelora.com.

(Riverfest Elora image)