The Riverfront Jubilee – A Nova Scotia Signature Event

Pictou County is the birthplace of New Scotland but known now as the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. Famous for its majestic coastline and amazing beaches, like Melmerby Beach with its approximately 2 km of sandy beach along the Northumberland Strait, connecting Kings Head with Roy Island, just 10 km northeast of New Glasgow.  Nova Scotia is also home to one of Canada’s most enchanting places, the Cape Breton Highlands, where the mountains meet the sea and you can travel the world-famous Cabot Trail coastline as you wind through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, keeping your eyes open for moose and bald eagles. However, if you are on the lookout for a festival that delivers live iconic Canadian music year-after-year, then New Glasgow is the place you’ll want to be on the August long weekend.

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Now into its 24th year, the Riverfront Jubilee or “The Jube” as it is affectionately known, has brought fans of Canadian Music to New Glasgow to witness local, up and coming and iconic Canadian artists and this year’s “Jube” is no exception.  During the long weekend in August over six thousand concerts goers are expected to converge to the edge of the East River at Glasgow Square.  Built in 2001, this outdoor amphitheatre offers an amazing venue for putting the spotlight on Canadian musical talent for Pictou Country area residents and those traveling to take in this three-day award-winning event that provides both artists and music lovers alike,  one of the most engaging performance experiences of a venue.

The Riverfront Jubilee is a three-time Music Nova Scotia (MNS) “Event of the Year” recipient, three-time East Coast Music Association (ECMA) “Event of the Year” nominee, and winner of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) “Golden Hospitality Award” (2013).

Artists performing at the Jubilee have included Music Nova Scotia (MNS), East Coast Music Association (ECMA), JUNO and Grammy award winners and nominees, while the Jubilee also takes great pride in offering local musicians an opportunity to get in the spotlight and share the stage with some of the very best in Canadian music both past and present.

Heading into its 24th year, the Riverfront Jubilee continues to deliver an amazing experience for those attending the Jubilee and the event has been on Spotlight on Business Magazine’s Top 10 Music Festival list for three consecutive years in a row as one of the best music festivals for any sized market in Canada, but we were interested to hear why Jubilee organizers thought the event has been so successful going into its 24th year.  Jill George, Director of Marketing for the Riverfront Jubilee’s answer was right on tune.  

“TheJubilee combines support for local, regional and national talent packed into one weekend. We do our very best to bring in acts the region will enjoy, but also support local talent. The economic impact the Riverfront Jubilee brings to the area of Pictou County, as shown in a 2012 study, has been an important piece of the tourism industry and a tool in attracting people to visit New Glasgow and beyond. The total economic activity generated by the 2012 Riverfront Jubilee was $1.1 million in Nova Scotia, with $629,000 of that occurring in New Glasgow.”

Some people have been going to the Jubilee now for 23 years and many that will attend this year have never been to a Jubilee before, so Spotlight on Business Magazine wanted to ask a few questions about what festival goers can expect from this year’s event?

The Jubilee offers a new and improved site for this year’s event with a larger VIP area and a new area called the “Food Truck Village” for patrons to enjoy while on site if they want a snack during the show.

“We also have two Late Night Stages each night at local pubs, The Spot and Wranglers Bar, both featuring local talent as well as a Sunday afternoon’s Blues matinee,” said George.

Tell us more about Carlton’s Community Bash, that is new for this year?

Carlton’s Community Bash is a legacy event honouring Carlton Munroe, former promoter and executive director of the Jubilee, who lost his battle with Glioblastoma in 2017.  It will be held on Saturday, August 3rd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the William M. Sobey Sports Complex in Stellarton.

Munroe served as executive director for nine years on the Riverfront Jubilee board and had a clear vision of evolving the festival over time, all while working towards celebrating local talent and focusing on patron experience. 

“The 2019 board of directors wanted to find a long-term manner of honouring Carlton’s memory. He was such an important part of the Jubilee for so many years, we never want this community to forget his dedication and commitment to this event,” explains Janine Linthorne, Riverfront Jubilee volunteer Board of Directors chairperson, of how the idea of the event came to fruition.

“The Town of Stellarton is very pleased to provide the venue for Carlton’s Community Bash as part of the Riverfront Jubilee’s events for 2019,” says Mayor Danny MacGillivray. “Carlton was a true community person, and the community of Stellarton feels privileged to host this event named in his honour.”

Carlton’s Community Bash is a free all-ages event that features local talent for all ages to enjoy in a family-friendly setting.

This year the Jubilee has moved to a 19+ venue can you tell us why that decision was made and what that change means for those attending the Jubilee this year?

The unanimous decision came after the board solicited feedback via survey from patrons, which resulted in over 450 responses, in addition to extensive discussions and reflection on past events over the festival’s twenty-three-year history.

“Making the Jubilee bigger and better meant, not only, looking at who’s on the main stage, but taking a hard look at the site, and how we can improve the function, safety and festival experience for our patrons,” said Linthorne.

“We know that despite our efforts with properly trained and staffed security underage patrons coming to the grounds under the influence and loitering off-site in the downtown core were issues we needed to address. The overall number of patrons 19 and under on-site year-after-year has been quite low. We’re proud to offer an event that not only supports local musicians but provides a safe space for those 19 and under to enjoy the Jubilee as well.”

This change also affects the overall patron experience including an upgraded VIP experience and access to additional food vendors. Site feedback received through the patron experience survey highlighted the desire for an upgraded VIP experience, more food vendors and an overall more aesthetically pleasing site.

The change to a 19+ site creates space for a variety of food vendors with a seating area. VIP patrons will now be able to enjoy front of stage access, a private food truck, access to multiple cash bars, upgraded and additional seating, and access to private portable washrooms.

Events like the Riverfront Jubilee would not be possible without sponsorship from both private businesses and government.  Can you tell us what support from local businesses and government means to the Jubilee and what sponsors can expect when they support the Jubilee this or any year?

“The Jubilee would not happen if not for the support of our numerous and generous sponsors, the community and government organizations. These sponsors give upwards of $260,000 through in-kind and financial donations and sponsorships.”

“Just announced on July 25th, by our Member of Parliament, Sean Fraser, Canadian Heritage has supported us with a donation of over $40,000. We have been so lucky to have the support of Canadian Heritage for many years now, as well as support from the Town of New Glasgow and Municipality of Pictou County,” explained George. 

“We are so lucky to have a business community that cares so much about supporting this event, local, regional and national talent. The sponsors see the value in this event far beyond the gates of the festival through the economic impact it brings to all of Pictou County, not just their individual businesses. Being a sponsor for the Jubilee is part of the sum of a whole – driving economic impact in this beautiful part of Nova Scotia.”

What type of economic spin off does the Jubilee provide for local businesses and on average over the three-day event how many people will attend the Jubilee venue?

The most recent numbers we have at our disposal are from an economic impact study the board had completed during the 2012 Riverfront Jubilee, which show the impact that the Jubilee has on the local economy

  • 36% of visitors to the Jubilee are from outside the region (for the purpose of this study the New Glasgow region was defined as within a 40km radius).
  • 54% of visitors attended for more than one-day of the event.
  • Overnight visitors spent four-times more than day trip visitors purchasing other goods and services like recreation, shopping, and food and beverage.
  • Visitors to the Jubilee spent more than $256,000 in New Glasgow.
  • The spending of those attending the festival, combined with the expenditures by the Jubilee reached $464,000, generating an estimated net economic activity (GDP) of $485,000 in the Province of Nova Scotia, of which $187,000 occurred in New Glasgow.    
  • These expenditures supported $313,000 in wages and salaries and an estimated 10 jobs.
  • Total tax revenues reached $186,000, of this $85,000 was attributable to the federal government, provincial tax revenues reached $84,000 and municipal taxes were $16,000, of which $9,100 was in New Glasgow.
  • The total economic activity generated by the 2012 New Glasgow Jubilee was $1.1 million in Nova Scotia, with $629,000 of that occurring in New Glasgow.

As for how many will take in the event this year, we are forecasting over six thousand people will attend over the three-day August long weekend. 

The Jubilee offers an amazing experience for all Jubilee goers, but your improved VIP experience takes it to the next level.  Can you tell us a little about what people can expect with a VIP experience for the Jubilee this year?

We have a new and improved site, with a larger VIP area that includes:

  • Front-of-stage access. 
  • A private cash bar (the other bars are through drink tickets) with a specialty liquor and spirit option not available in the general area.
  • An exclusive VIP only food truck: The Turnstiles, whose focus is bringing you fresh locally supplied food that satisfies the taste buds with every bite, plus a snack bar.
  • VIP only bleacher style seating.
  • Private bathrooms. 
  • VIP-only gate entrance.
  • Separate access to “The Jube Shop” merchandise tent.
  • Plus, a private VIP-only late-night stage on Friday and Saturday.

How important is social media to promoting an event like the Riverfront Jubilee?

“Social media has become an important tool not only for creating and sustaining a following throughout the year to support this event, but also to use as a widespread tool for digital word-of-mouth.” George goes to on to say, “It has helped us build a recognizable brand across Nova Scotia and beyond.” 

If you want to learn more about the 24th annual Riverfront Jubilee or see what is happening before, during or after each show, follow them on Facebook at @JubileeNG on Twitter at @jubileeng and on Instagram at @ngjubilee.  

We have covered a lot but is there anything that we might have missed that you would like to share with our readers about this years Jubilee?

The Riverfront Jubilee is a not-for-profit organization that is run completely by volunteers. “We have a highly committed volunteer Board of Directors, and many dedicated managers, plus the volunteer time and labour of over 300 people during the weekend festival” explained George. 

As for why you should attend, well for Spotlight on Business it is easy.  If you want to see amazing artists at a venue designed to offer a truly interactive experience for fans and artists alike then you need to put the Riverfront Jubilee on your bucket list to attend this summer and every summer for that matter.

See you at the JUBE!

by Calli Gregg