Nova Scotia Summer Fest moving to Columbus Field

ANTIGONISH: Downtown Antigonish is set to come to life next summer as it will now be the new home of Nova Scotia Summer Fest.

The two-day music festival is moving from its inaugural location at Keppoch Mountain in Antigonish County to Antigonish’s Columbus Field.

Ray Mattie, the founder and executive director of Nova Scotia Summer Fest, made a presentation to Antigonish Town Council during a meeting on September 21, requesting approval to move the festival to the town’s downtown core.

This was for two reasons, he said, which align with their mandate to develop Antigonish town and county into a world class event tourism and eco-tourism destination.

“The first, from the Summer Fest standpoint, having it in the downtown, there is infrastructure in place – we had to cart a lot of generators and lighting out to Keppoch,” Mattie told The Reporter. “So this equipment is in place already with the town, with the exception of a few odds and ends.”

The relocation to Columbus Field also provides the opportunity for a lot of foot traffic.

From the Keppoch’s standpoint, Mattie advised they want to host a major downhill biking competition next summer – something that’s gaining popularity across Canada.

“If we do it on the same weekend, we’re touching both the music and culture aspect in conjunction with the outdoor athletic aspect,” he said. “It’s a win-win. We can co-brand and market together to make a true Antigonish Town and County destination experience out of that.”

Council voted unanimously in favour of the request on the condition Mattie and Steve Scannell, the town’s director of community development, work out details on field-use policies.

Mattie said the town was supposed to be the location in the first year.

“The only reason was there were some older policies set in place for the field that we didn’t have time to wait for council to review,” he said. “We were a bit late coming to the town anyway, because it was our first year, there were so many things to lay a foundation to.”

Launched in 2019, Mattie said, Nova Scotia Summer Fest was a huge success, seeing 1,100 people in attendance on opening night, while another 2,000 were through the gates on the second night.

The 2020 festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The 2021 event, scheduled for August 20-21, will include the same lineup that was scheduled for this past summer including; Antigonish-based rockers The Trews, The Washboard Union, Jimmy Rankin, and Neon Dreams, among others who will be announced at a later date.

Mattie advised after all the groundwork he’s completed to get Nova Scotia Summer Fest off the ground, makes it easier to make the jump from Keppoch Mountain to Columbus Field.