SappyFest Ready For Launch Of 11th Festival With TUNS, Dilly Dally, and Others

Photo by Vanessa Heins
TUNS Photo by Vanessa Heins

It seemingly never fails. In the two to three weeks leading up to Sackville’s annual SappyFest, as last-minute details continue to be infinitely reviewed and eventually finalized, the festival’s Creative Director, Lucas Hicks, wonders what he got himself into.

It’s not that Hicks doesn’t enjoy the challenges and rewards associated with putting on an acclaimed festival like SappyFest, which is now entering its eleventh year.

It’s simply the run-of-the-mill details that have the ability to occasionally bog down even the most organized of individuals.

“Leading up the festival, I swear to myself that I don’t know that I have another year in me, but then when it’s all said and done, I’m already thinking ahead to next year. I’m sure this year will prove to be exactly the same,” Hicks says with a laugh.

This is the third year that Hicks has been at the helm of SappyFest. While he admits his job continues to get easier in some respects, he views each event as a learning experience for the following year.

“I was fortunate that I walked into a festival in which the bulk of the infrastructure was already set up. One of the most consistent challenges we encounter, year after year, is how to cater to the audiences that have faithfully supported the festival while also trying to make it more accessible and attract more newcomers.”

Since its inception in 2006, SappyFest has become one of the most anticipated music festivals east of Montreal during every August long weekend. With a focus on less contemporary artists, the festival has played host to some pretty impressive names over the last decade:

Arcade Fire, Toronto punk heroes PUP, The Sadies, Les Hay Babies, Nova Scotia’s Old Man Luedecke, Metz, Wintersleep and Moncton indie rock heroes Eric’s Trip are just a fraction of the almost 300 acts that could be considered SappyFest alumni.

Although most music festivals are centred around large, multi-venue urban experiences, SappyFest has curated a small-town, immersive experience, offering attendees an experience that would be tough to replicate in a big city.

What helps make SappyFest even more unique, aside from the diverse musical talent that graces the festival’s stages, is the manner in which the Sackville community consistently rallies behind the event.

The community’s citizens, Sackville businesses and town council have consistently supported the event, through a combination of a volunteer workforce, in-kind donations and financial support. That support had played a key role in SappyFest generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic activity for the town.

Of course, SappyFest wouldn’t be the event it is without the performing artists. Hicks feels the festival’s longevity has a lot to do with the balance it has struck between attracting big-name acts while still maintaining a familial feel.

“We’re fortunate that SappyFest has a good reputation among artists. Not only has the festival fostered a loyalty among acts, it is also the kind of event that artists want to be a part of and has played a big role in helping us attract acts like Dilly Dally, who are blowing up on the scene,” Hicks states.

“Competition for acts is especially tough these days, especially here on the East Coast where you’ve got other great festivals like the recently launched Gridlock Festival in Halifax. The good thing is, we’re all fighting the same fight in trying to better the arts and culture scene here in Atlantic Canada, and are happy to support each other.”

In addition to the aforementioned Dilly Dally, other acts slated to play the course of this weekend’s SappyFest include Friday night headliners TUNS, a group comprised of members of Sloan, the Superfriendz and the Inbreds, Moncton native Julie Doiron, Toronto’s By Divine Right, Les Hotesses d’Hilaire, Nap Eyes and Saint John’s Little You Little Me, among others.

Although the lack of mainstream acts may prove to be a deterrent for some people, Hicks is confident that the wide array of talent offered at this year’s SappyFest, like each of the 10 years before, offers attendees the opportunity to discover their next favourite act.

“At the end of the day, we don’t put acts on stage that we don’t believe in, or think that our audiences won’t appreciate. We have total faith that the acts are able to deliver upon expectations. I feel confident that we’ve got a great festival happening,” Hicks says.

What: SappyFest
When: Friday July 29 through Sunday July 31
Where: Various venues throughout Sackville
For ticket information, visit www.sappyfest.com

SappyFest Schedule

Friday July 29

Main Stage Tent – Bridge St., Sackville – 7 p.m. – All ages

TUNS
Dilly Dally
By Divine Right
Adrian Teacher & The Subs
Kids Corner Power Jam

Royal Canadian Legion – 15 Lorne St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Nicole Ariana
Petra Glynt

Painted Pony – 26 Bridge St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Comedy
Flag On The Play
Kira Daube

Thunder & Lightning – 23 Bridge St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Shotgun Jimmie
Horses

Saturday July 30

Main Stage Tent – Bridge St., Sackville – Noon – All ages

The Dirty Nil
Hooded Fang
Century Egg
Sorrey
Fish Food

Cranewood Bakery – 113 Main St., Sackville – Noon to 5 p.m. – All ages

Fan Zine / Crafter’s Fair

Vogue Cinema – 9 Bridge St., Sackville – 4 p.m. – All ages

Luka
Coszmos Quartette
Union Suit

Main Stage Tent – Bridge St., Sackville – 7 p.m. – All ages

Ought
Partner
Little Scream
The Wooden Stars
Fake Palms

Royal Canadian Legion – 15 Lorne St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

BART
Mauno

Struts Gallery – 7 Lorne St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

G.L.A.M. Bats
Karaoke

Thunder & Lightning – 23 Bridge St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Un Blonde
She Devils

Sunday July 31

 Main Stage Tent – Bridge St., Sackville – Noon – All ages

Chocolat
Phedre
Dark For Dark
Coco Barracuda
Jay Arner

Vogue Cinema – 9 Bridge St., Sackville – Noon to 3 p.m. – All ages

Universal Dawn

Vogue Cinema – 9 Bridge St., Sackville – 4 p.m. – All ages

Tyler Messick
Heat Vision
Corey Isenor

Main Stage Tent – Bridge St., Sackville – 7 p.m. – All ages

Cakes Da Killa
Weird Lines
Nap Eyes
Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars
Les Hotesses d’Hilaire

Royal Canadian Legion – 15 Lorne St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Girth
Zack Bruce

Thunder & Lightning – 23 Bridge St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Greville Tapes Music Club Revue

Painted Pony – 26 Bridge St., Sackville – Midnight – 19+

Beard Springsteen
Brookside Mall
Weird Star