Bootsand Hearts is going into its eighth year, there really isn’t anything like this four-day country music and camping festival outside of Ontario’s Lake Country – and not just because the superstar calibre of the lineup year after year. From an advertising and partnership perspective the Boots and Hearts Music Festival is Christmas in August. The Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario sees 45,000-plus concert-goers over the course of the extended mid-August weekend – August 8th – 11th this year – with attendees coming from every Canadian province and 23 US states. It’s a young crowd, too. 62 percent of ticket holders are between the ages of 18 and 34; 60 percent are female; and less than 2 percent are under 18 years old and less than three percent are over 55.
The Boots and Hearts Music Festival is Canada’s biggest country music festival, a three-time winner of the Canadian Country Music Association’s ‘Festival of the Year’ award in 2019, they were nominated for “Festival of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music Awards, next to the CMA Music Festival held in the US, the second biggest annual music festival in North America. For seven years now, the festival has featured the likes of Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, and Luke Bryan along with many other country music stars. Prior to the first Boots and Hearts Music Festival in 2012, country music fans in Canada were mostly accustomed to getting their country music festival-fill south of the border. While Nashville’s best always come to The Great White North – usually when it’s a little more on the green side – during the course of their North American tours, it was rare outside the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta to see more than one big name on the same stage.
When Stan Dunford, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto-based entertainment company Republic Live, spoke with Spotlight on Business back in 2017 he said that he and his wife Eva stumbled upon the winning formula that is Boots and Hearts almost entirely by chance.
“It may seem funny, but Boots and Hearts happened by accident, to an extent,” Dunford explained. “The show was originally designed to have a different name and was planned as a multi-genre rock show. It was hard to book the calibre of talent for that show, so Republic Live leaned on some relationships in country music and quickly switched to a country format. The first show was rainy, messy and awesome all at once, and every fan left with a smile and a ton of memories that they will never forget. The Boots and Hearts brand grew from the legacy of that crazy first year. We’ve really attracted an amazing, loyal fan base because of the quality of our experience. There is nothing like it in our market.”
“Republic Live has a history of reinventing the experience each year,” Mr. Dunford continued. “For those who come before Thursday night, we feature our Emerging Artist Showcase on the main stage. Over the years, we have discovered hot new talent as part of our Showcase.” These showcase opportunities offer up and coming artists to get their moment in the spotlight to showcase their amazing talents as they make their way up to the top of the charts and helps them gain exposure to country music fans.
In 2015, Boots and Hearts officially relocated to its current home in Oro-Medonte. The Burl’s Creek Event Grounds features 600-plus acres of custom-designed festival space, Mr. Dunford explained. “We graded the land to form the concert bowls, laid miles and miles of sod, laid gravel on laneways to improve the camping experience, and renovated a vintage 1920s barn to become the centerpiece of our VIP experience. There is a wonderful connection between country music fans and the camping festival experience, and we have provided an unparalleled roster of talent for our fans each year. We are fortunate to have built a loyal base of Boots and Hearts fans, and everything we do to prepare from one year to the next is designed to cater to the experience for those fans.” There’s even an on-site farmer’s market at Boots and Hearts, he said.
The Coors Banquet Kick-Off Party featuring Chase Rice, The Cadillac Three and Kris Barclay takes place on Thursday, August 8th.
Taking the mainstage on Friday, August 9th are headliners Cole Swindell and Maren Morris, then Miranda Lambert and Kip Moore take the stage headlining on Saturday, August 10th, and the event closing out with Jason Aldean and Kane Brown headlining on Sunday, August 11th. By the time the final encore is played, a total of 37 headline bands will take the stage at Boots and Hearts making this an event not to be missed and why it was selected by Spotlight on Business Magazine as one of the best festivals to attend in North America for the last three years.
“Live music is a tough business, and the festival business is even tougher,” Mr. Dunford explained. “Top artists are charging more and more for performances and charge their fees in U.S. dollars – even many of the top Canadian acts. There is significant competition for those artists. And, as a camping festival, we build a temporary weekend home for 40,000 people in a small rural community. Add to that the regulations, restrictions, safety considerations and bureaucracy of operating our events, and there is a challenge around every corner. This is a huge planning, coordinating, and execution challenge. We have built a great team of staff and critical vendors to manage the entire process.”
Bootsandhearts.com is worth a visit even if you can’t make it to Ontario’s Lake Country this August. The page has everything that you need to know about Boots and Hearts to keep you up to date on the #BOOTLIFE.
“While there will always be options for music fans, nothing can compare to the scope of the Boots and Hearts Music Festival.”
by Jamie Barrie