It’s a thought so horrific that Maritimers don’t want to hear anything about it until the inevitable is knocking at our door: The end of the summer season.
For Carly Maicher, however, it’s not all bad news: The impending end of the summer season has come to symbolize a time of an annual musical celebration.
Now entering its eighth year, Maicher’s Summers End Folk Festival has drawn hundreds of attendees to the tiny confines of Grand Manan, allowing them to collectively celebrate music and the arts, while also showcasing the natural beauty of the island.
This year’s edition of the festival will take place on Aug. 18 and 19, and boasts a lineup including Nova Scotia’s Old Man Luedecke, The Weather Station, Keith Hallett, Grand Theft Bus, and more.
“I originally came to the island approximately nine years ago,” Maicher says. “My grandparents were originally from here, but relocated to Manitoba before my mother was born.”
Despite having made no more than three trips to the island while she was growing up, its impact was something that stuck with her as she got older.
“I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but as the years passed, I found myself romanticizing the idea of living on an island in the middle of the ocean.”
After her family purchased a property on the island, Maicher, driven by youthful aspirations of being a songwriter, found herself the perfect refuge away from the hustle and bustle of Metropolitan Winnipeg.
“The whole idea was to get away from the city and spend some time alone on the island by the ocean so that I could work on writing music,” she says. “I ended up just falling in love with the island, and decided I wanted to do my best to live there full time.”
For the last four and a half years that Maicher has called Grand Manan home on a full-time basis, she insists there is little, if anything, that she finds herself missing following her decision to leave Winnipeg behind on a permanent basis.
“It’s hard to relate to Winnipeg on one level. I spent most of my 20’s here on the island, and quickly grew accustomed to life in a small town. Compared to the amenities of any large city, there are definitely things lacking on Grand Manan, but nothing that I’d consider relocating for. After all, it’s the nature aspects of the island that I fell in love with to begin with.”
She says her decision to create a music festival for the island stemmed from a combination of factors, the least of which was the fact there was nothing similar already taking place on the island.
“The idea of the festival really stemmed from a combination of wanting to bring a host of musical acts to the island for residents, but also to share the beauty of the island with those that don’t live here. When people come for the festival, they end up exploring the island and all it has to offer, which ultimately benefits everyone. I never could have envisioned Summer’s End becoming a destination festival, but it has, in a way, become a kind of advertisement for how great life on the island can be.”
While summertime music festivals in large metropolitan centres tend to attract tens of thousands of attendees, Summer’s End is rather modest in comparison. Maicher shares that one of the festival’s biggest crowds – estimated to be in the vicinity of 500 people – turned out last year when acclaimed Nova Scotian songwriter Joel Plaskett performed on the closing night.
She emphasizes, however, that the intimate surroundings of the Summer’s End Festival offers a subtle counterpoint to the commotion and rushed nature that seemingly go hand-in-hand with larger scale festivals in big cities across Canada.
“All too often, a band or act will play in a club and you’ve got people talking over them, or not always showing the respect they should be. That is never the case with Summer’s End, and is one of the aspects of the festival I’m most proud of. Everyone who goes actually wants to be there,” Maicher says.
Another point of pride for the organizer is having the opportunity to curate a lineup of acts that not only stands on its own, but helps the festival standout from the dozens of others that take place throughout the Maritime region each summer.
“It’s important to offer a lineup of both new and established acts that people are not necessarily going to see elsewhere this summer. If we offered the exact same lineup that another festival had earlier in the season, it wouldn’t necessarily give anyone an incentive to come visit this beautiful island.”
For further details on the Summer’s End Folk Festival, including programming and accommodation information, visit summersendfolkfestival.tumblr.com.