Stratford Live Music and Food Festival 2022: Here Comes the Sun

  •    Sunday, June 12, 2022   Lisa Chester-Hanna

Returning after two years absent is the 2022 Stratford Live Music and Food Festival, a family friendly event spanning three days this June 17-19. The event celebrated its tenth year in 2019 as the Stratford Blues and Ribfest before rebranding to a new, more inclusive approach this year.

“A rebranding of our festival has occurred, but our goal remains the same. That is to provide quality entertainment and food by bringing the crossroads of a variety of music, food, culture, and community together,” said Steve Toman, chairman of the organizing committee.

The event takes place at the Bandshell on Veteran’s Drive along the Avon River beginning Friday at 4-11 p.m. Saturday’s music starts at 11a.m. - 11 p.m. and Sunday is 11 a.m - 6 p.m.  Fans will not only get their fix of blues music, they will also hear some great country music and funk. With twenty-two bands playing over the three days, there is something for everyone. 

“We will be featuring some young artists who will get a chance to perform for the first time on a professional stage in front of their family and friends. What is unique about our festival is that most of the bands and musicians are local, but we do bring in some international artists. A different headliner band will perform each day at our festival for everyone’s enjoyment,” said Toman.

There will be a licenced tent, and Vendor Village featuring unique crafts and specialized merchandise. Food, of course, is available from one of the food trucks or rib trucks, not to mention the businesses along York St. The Stratford Public Library will have a presence with crafts and games for children to enjoy on Friday and Saturday. You can even sign up for a library card in their tent. There will also be face painting sponsored by Arden Park Dental and volunteers to help the kids make balloon twists.

This year there is a charge for admission of $10 per person per day. Children twelve and under are free, and payment is accepted in cash, debit, or credit card.

“We decided that, because of COVID, a lot of our sponsors haven’t been able to give us sponsorship as in the past so we thought to be on the safe side, we would charge admission. We made it just $10 per person day. We thought this was pretty reasonable given that you can see seven or eight bands in a day. It may be $30 for the weekend, but you can spend more than that on a single concert ticket,” said Barb Smith, organizing committee member.

Smith said they have a really good committee put together, each with their own responsibilities, and the event is really coming together. Headlining Friday night is Darcy John, a St Marys native who left for Nashville in the early 2000’s. Also, on Friday night is the Johnny Max band playing roadhouse soul and blues. Cheryl Lescom and the Tucson Choir Boys will perform original material and other classics on Saturday night. Steve Marriner, a Juno Award winning multi-instrumentalist, and his group will also perform on Saturday night. Steve has played around the world with the award-winning Colin James Band and MonkeyJunk. Grace, Toronto’s own all female funk and soul band will close on Saturday night. The festival will close on Sunday with headliners Stevie T. Band, Tony D. Band with Suzie Vinnick, and the Beat Heathens

Sunday there will be a tribute to Stew Laing, founder of the festival who passed away two years ago. He was a lover of the blues and live music. The final set of the day Sunday will be dedicated to him, with his family present to receive the honour.

“On Sunday we will pay tribute to Stew Laing who passed away two years ago. Stew, who was well-known and loved in our community, shared an infectious love of music that culminated in the founding of the Stratford Blues and Rib Fest. We miss him dearly,” said Toman.