News Provincial

Annual country music festival underway at Burl's Creek

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

When the Boots and Hearts Music Festival first came to Oro-Medonte in 2015, Republic Live owner Stan Dunford quipped he wasn't sure how they could pull off a festival without a torrential downpour.

Among the many memories created in the festival's first three years, prior to moving to Burl's Creek Event Grounds, the muddy debauchery ranked nearly greater than the performances. Organizers had been lucky the past two years, but things could change in 2017, with rain and thunderstorms forecast for most of the weekend.

Still, there was not shortage enthusiasm at Burl's Creek.

“I've been meaning to do this for years,” said Tina Yates, of Keswick. “Everyone I know who is a country music fan has told me this is the most fun they have all summer. I had to see for myself.”

That sentiment was echoed by Dustin Rawley, of Port Hope, who was back at Boots and Hearts for another year. He and his squad were quick to take advantage of the Coors Banquet promotion, offering a complimentary beverage to those 19 and older, in celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.

He was honest about why he keeps coming back to Burl's Creek.

“I like to get a little bit tipsy and watch a concert, and this is the place to do it,” he said. “Everyone around here is a great community. The general atmosphere is wonderful.”

In 2016, the Thursday programming was held on the Front Porch Stage, a covered area at the west end of the property, near the Line 7 camping area. That stage was taken down this year, and the Front Porch Stage is now found in a tree-lined area near the main stage.

The Coors Banquet Kick-Off Party once again was the main event Thursday night, but there were some subtle differences from previous years. The party moved to the main stage for 2017, allowing significantly more people to attend safely.

Last year's party, while deemed a success, was marred by long line-ups for beverages and food and the inability to easily travel from one part of the park to another, due to the crush of people in the area.

Also new for Thursday this year was the Emerging Artist Showcase. In the past, this part of the weekend was a highlight of the Saturday programming. This year, the next generation of Canadian country superstars took its turn in the spotlight to start the festival.

Also playing Thursday were Love and Theft, as well as headliner Doc Walker.

Highlights for Friday include Kiefer Sutherland, Dan + Shay, and Keith Urban.

pbales@postmedia.com

twitter.com/patrickbales



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