Thereare many reasons to head to Prince Edward Island this Summer, yes, it is the birthplace of Confederation, yes it has world class golf courses, yes it is the home of Anne of Green Gables, yes it does have amazing seafood and yes it does have a majestic shoreline around just about any corner of the island. However, if you are a country music fan, the Cavendish Beach Music Festival has been the main reason to head to PEI during the Summer for the last 10 years and this year will be no exception with the CBMF kicking off its second decade with a full deck of new and old faces taking the stage this year for what is sure to be an amazing event in Anne’s backyard.
When Jeff Squires, the President of PEI Brewing Company and CEO of Whitecap Entertainment, wants to compete, he brings his A game. Prior to the first CBMF in 2009, the outdoor music festival scene in the Maritime Provinces was a two-province showcase.
Nova Scotia had the internationally recognized annual Stan Rogers Folk Festival informally known as Stanfest, which is an annual music festival held in Canso, Nova Scotia. Plus in Halifax, it had a long list of single event super shows on the Halifax Commons and Citadel Hill featuring the likes of Paul McCartney, KISS, the Rolling Stones, and Keith Urban which moved between genres of music each year and were just one day mega events.
New Brunswick had much the same with Magnetic Hill which was able to able to attract their fair share concert goers with up to 95,000 attending one day mega events in Moncton switching between genres with artists like: The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Peter Frampton, AC/DC, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. This year after a four-year hiatus Magnetic Hill is going country with country music star Luke Bryan taking the stage at Magnetic Hill on August 10th as part of his Sunset Repeat tour. Local businesses are almost as excited as his fans to see music come back to Magnetic Hill. It is no surprise that Bryan would come to the Maritimes as last year he sold out at the CBMF.
Which brings us back to the CBMF and Squires who after experimenting with smaller temporary venues and local talent during the summer months for a number of years, took one giant leap in 2008 when he jumped into the familiar role of shopper on the PEI real estate scene and found the perfect spot for a permanent venue near the world-famous Avonlea Village in Cavendish and booked for the maiden CBMF in 2009 two people who shaped the modern country music scene: Tim McGraw and Reba McIntyre.
The CBMF and Prince Edward Island were officially a force in the outdoor music festival scene and with 10 years under their belt buckles they are going strong.
Attendance that first year exceeded both Squires’ and the festival’s many sponsors’ expectations. In 2010, CBMF organizers broke ground on the first permanent on-site structures, literally setting in stone a festival that had already become a part of the Island’s modern identity. Organizers also decided to extend the CBMF to five days in its second year as the festival began to attract more and more headliners, including Lady Antebellum, The Road Hammers, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift. It is estimated that when Taylor Swift took the stage in 2010 that over 30,000 people were in attendance. I was at the festival with my family and it was an amazing event and I have been to every CBMF since.
Over the past ten years the CBMF has welcomed major acts to Cavendish which have included the likes of Brett Eldredge, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band, The Dixie Chicks and Little Big Town – the list reads like winners at the CMAs.
This year will see Hunter Hayes open the 3 day festival as the headliner for Friday, July 5th with the amazing and super talented Carrie Underwood headlining the festival for the first time ever on Saturday, July 6th and Eric Church headlining back at the CBMF to close the festival on July 7th that will see 50 artists on 3 stages over 3 days which is why they have been selected as one of the Top Music Festivals in North America by Spotlight on Business Magazine.
“Sometimes people can’t imagine it until they see it, you know?” Squires told Spotlight on Business Magazine back in the Spring of 2016. Thanks to his vision and the support given by Island and Maritime businesses and volunteers there is plenty to see and do for the more than 70,000 festival goers that are in Cavendish over the duration of the 3-day mega event.
As partnerships go, the people of Prince Edward Island have a win-win with the CBMF. The CBMF translates into millions of dollars in revenue for the Island’s shops and services plus the festival organizers have given millions to the community since 2009 and will continue to do so moving forward making this festival not just a great opportunity to see amazing artists but also offering help back to the communities that welcome festival goers and artists into their backyards for these events and making it the best experience possible.
See you at Cavendish Beach this July and remember your sunscreen.
by Jamie Barrie