The anticipated start of light rail transit by the end of this calendar year has spawned an increase in development across the Region. This has also led to many discussions about how to best manage that development. Some are resistant to these changes, some are watching with curiosity, and others wholeheartedly celebrate this growth and intensification. 

One group is hosting a different sort of celebration however, a celebration of the Countryside Line. The second annual Hold the Line Festival seeks to: “raise awareness of the Region’s Countryside Line, a regional boundary that curbs urban sprawl and protects rural farmland,” said Rianne Rops, one of the festival’s organizers. 

“By putting on the festival, we hope to show Council that the people of Waterloo Region value the Countryside Line and want to see it protected for years to come.” 

The two-day festival, this year at Fertile Ground farm in St Agatha on September 7-8, has lots to offer. Attendees can join in a guided jam-session with local band Onion Honey, taste local foods, enjoy craft beer from local brewery Together We’re Bitter (TWB), among other fun activities.

And there’s room for kids, also. 

“We are focusing on making our event as family-friendly as possible,” Rops said. 

There will be a pump track for kids and a hay bale play area with frisbees, hula hoops and balls. In fact, that may be exactly where to find Rops. 

“For me, the haybales are particularly nostalgic as I spent many hours of my childhood making forts with my cousins in their hay loft,” she said.  

According to their website, Hold the Line is a “small ‘non-profit-that-could’ made up of artists, community builders, sustainability advocates, and Waterloo Region enthusiasts.” They have partnered with local arts organizations Neruda Arts and Sofar Sounds to further represent Waterloo Region’s diversity. Festival goers can listen to a variety of bands including the Blue Sky Singers, Cascabel, and Anwar Khurshid. 

If you have your bike, you may want to join others in cycling some (or all) of the Countryside Line. Camping onsite is also welcomed Friday evening if you bring a tent, and you’ll even be treated to a pancake breakfast in the morning.

Once Rops learned of how the Countryside Line preserves farmland, protects environmentally sensitive areas, and promotes the design of sustainable cities, she wanted to be involved with the festival. 

“They embodied so many of my own values of environmentalism, community, local economy, and art, and I knew that joining their team would be a great way to advocate for what I believe,” she said.  

Clearly, there are many ways to advocate for the type of Region and community we want to create: petitions, workshops, letter-writing, and connecting with elected representatives are just a few. The Hold the Line festival offers attendees a unique way to advocate for the Countryside Line while connecting with the land, food, and friends.

Grab your tickets by August 17 to get the early bird price of $20, which includes a $5 food voucher! More information can be found at www.holdthelinewr.org.