Coming up on Saturday May 21 is the first annual Kemptville Buskerfest hosted in downtown Kemptville. Join the fun starting at 9 am for an exciting lineup of talented performers, children’s activities, plenty of tasty food and beverage options, and a singular shopping experience with unique local shops and vendors. Park at the North Grenville Municipal Centre and take the free shuttle down to the festival and back all day from 9 am to 5 pm.

For those who remember, ever since the final curtain call of the Dandelion Festival back in 2017 and with every subsequent spring, it has always felt as if there was something missing. Almost like a small piece of our community’s soul left us and we were left wondering what happened and if it would ever come back.

Downtown Kemptville felt it. Gone was the signature event for the downtown and a slice of its identity. The Dandelion Festival attracted thousands of people and turned Prescott Street into a magical place where people emerged from their winter social slumber and connected with each other and enjoyed the best that the local business and arts communities had to offer.

The Old Town Kemptville BIA recognized that though the “Weed” may have withered, the spirit lived on. When it came to discussing what downtown (and the community) needed, the memory of a spring festival lingered. Knowing this, it wasn’t surprising to learn that some community builders were also pondering the possibility and whether the conditions were right for something new to grow.

Over a couple of plates of nachos and chicken wings, the “founders” dreamed, discussed and dissected. It appeared as though the political will was in place and the passion was ever present, but the question was which group would step forward to give things a mighty shove. Enter the Old Town Kemptville BIA.

It was a long conversation at the Board of Management table, but the potential to see the return of thousands of visitors, the chance to electrify efforts to make downtown a vibrant community destination, and the opportunity to showcase a diverse downtown business community that deserved a chance to shine was too tempting. At the end of the meeting, the founders had the seed (a committee) and now just needed some fertile soil and good weather.

Though the committee wanted to honour the essence of the Dandelion Festival, they recognized that this was also an opening to paint using a blank canvas. There was also a heavy interest to prioritize the participation of local talent, just like its predecessor. From there, the idea emerged of using downtown as a kind of busking stage and the foundation of the event was poured.

After securing the political and financial support of the Municipality of North Grenville and Council, the Kemptville Buskerfest Organizing Committee started recruiting volunteers who wanted to work incredibly hard for little reward, who loved their community and who have never done anything of this magnitude before. Mission accomplished!

From day one the committee had the vision and the commitment to create something special. They also identified that the community desperately needed something to look forward to after not only a long cold winter, but the extensive hardship caused by the pandemic to nearly every aspect of our lives. It was a true touchstone that motivated them to keep moving forward despite multiple stops, starts and date changes.

The Kemptville Buskerfest shared how they are truly humbled by the faith shown by their sponsors who invested with them despite being a first-year event. They also want to thank the Old Town Kemptville BIA, its members and its volunteers for making the festival possible. The group was adamant that the North Grenville Times be celebrated as they have gone above and beyond to help share Buskerfest’s story. There are many others they wished to thank, but they claimed there wasn’t enough ink.

To close, Buskerfest’s message was that this day is all about the community. They want all of you to sit back and enjoy the talents of the performers, the great food and drinks and just let yourself be swept away as you forget all about life for a day. And don’t forget to get your tickets for the evening concert where Juno-nominated Miss Emily will put the perfect musical finishing touch on a day that the Kemptville Buskerfest hopes you’ll remember for a very long time.

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