Weekend marks triumphant return for Riverfest

ELORA – Riverfest Elora provided a successful weekend, returning after a two year pandemic hiatus.

The annual music festival ran Aug. 19 to 21 at Bissell Park in Elora.

The event marked the festival’s 12th year, and a strong one back, as it was the first time the festival was able to offer a full instalment since 2019.

“It was wonderful getting our team back together after three years… and being able to make a difference in people’s lives,” said festival artistic director Spencer Shewen.

Last year, Riverfest organizers offered a “Wish you Were Here,” festival in leu of the traditional festival to comply with pandemic restrictions.

Riverfest Elora officials have previously credited its success in making it through the pandemic to ongoing contributions from its artistic partnerships and the support of the community.

This year organizers were able to return to a complete line up with over 50 performers appearing.

“After being worried for a few years… and not running it for a few years, we actually were able to pull it off pretty pretty smoothly – it felt like it was right back to how it used to be,” said owner and president Jon Ralston.

This year’s festival consisted of an almost entirely Canadian lineup, with only two of the 59 performers coming from across the border.

Headliners included newcomers Alessia Cara, Mother Mother, and returning act The Glorious Sons. 

Local acts like The Diner Mints, Madison Galloway, the Boo Radley Project, Royal Castles and I, the Mountain were also featured in this year’s lineup.

In previous years, the festival has drawn in crowds of 5,000 people per day and Ralston estimated this years turnout was similar to 2019 numbers.

While the weekend ran relatively smoothly, Ralston said thunderstorm warnings Sunday nearly cancelled the last day of the festival.

“We almost canceled the entire day outright, but we kind of just decided to go hour by hour and it turned in our favour,” he said, with the entire day running.

Next year Riverfest is planned for Aug. 18 to 20, said Shewen. He added there may be some surprises in the works throughout the year as well.

“We would want people to keep an eye out for some other surprises – special events we’re working on,” he said. 

“A big thank you to Centre Wellington for supporting us,” Ralston added.