Riverfest Elora returned to Bissel Park for the thirteenth year from Aug. 18-20, 2023.
The festival—headlined by indie-rock band, Metric—showcased Canadian music acts, local artisans and food vendors. Other acts like TALK, Feist, JJ Wilde, I, The Mountain, and Guelph band, Animal Boy took to the stage over the weekend.
With three stages, and a beautiful location right along the Grand River, Riverfest Elora 2023 drew crowds of all ages and music tastes.
Gabby, a Riverfest first-timer, heard about the festival when she was in town last year spending the day at the Elora Quarry, but missed it. This year, she came back to see Canadian hip-hop icon, Maestro Fresh Wes and one of her favourite bands, The Aggrolites.
“Other than the Beastie Boys and Run DMC I didn’t really know any other hip-hop artists, especially Canadian hip-hop artists,” Gabby, who’s been a Maestro Fresh Wes fan since she was a teen, said. “And then he brings what he brings to the table, which is amazing.”
Vince the Messenger, a rapper from Prince Edward Island, was one of the first performers on the second day of the festival.
“This festival is very cool; it feels very grassroots. Everyone here is very warm and welcoming, and it feels like an organic type of environment” he said in an interview with TCE reporters for Radio Laurier.
It was Vince the Messenger’s first time in Elora, but not in Ontario. On Aug. 8, he shared the stage at Manifesto’s The Block Party with other artists like Amine and Saukrates, another Canadian hip-hop icon.
“It’s lovely,” Joshua Zachariah, Riverfest volunteer, said. “The lineup is great…today is a really busy day because people came out for Metric and Feist.”
Zachariah was most looking forward to seeing Feist, while his colleague Alex Schaffter was most excited for Metric.
“I haven’t listened to them in a minute, but I was really into them…I think it’s going to be a really fun walk down memory lane,” Schaffter said.
To try to keep the festival environmentally conscious, plastic drink bottles were banned from the venue, with free, potable water stations provided instead by Wellington Water Watchers. Attendees were also encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles, and to bike or take the provided shuttle buses to the venue rather than drive.
Riverfest Elora was started in 2009 by Elora artist, Marilyn Koop, as a backyard festival. Koop unfortunately passed away in 2012, but the festival continues in her memory.
Planning for Riverfest Elora 2024 is already underway, with the festival set to take place Aug. 16-18, 2024. To learn more or get early-bird tickets, visit riverfestelora.com.