Sarnia’s Revelree Music Festival is offering international rock and country acts for the first time this summer, creating a buzz about the third annual outdoor event and betting on some really big crowds.
Festival organizers announced Thursday that American mainstream rockers Goo Goo Dolls will headline Friday, July 19 and country pop singer and guitarist Brett Young tops the billing Saturday, July 20.
“We want to put Sarnia on the map in terms of live entertainment,” said Revelree CEO and President Scott Palko.
The festival’s first two years featured Canadian artists and several local bands. That’s laid the groundwork for this year’s festival in Canatara Park that will welcome 10 acts over two days, including local, national and international performers.
“We like to announce our lineup early when the skies are grey and people want to look forward to some fun in the park this summer,” said Palko.
Revelree started out as a small music event in 2022 when 3,500 people attended. Ticket sales doubled last year and Palko is projecting they can double again with this year’s lineup.
Sarnia has a history of outdoor music festivals including Bayfest, which rocked Centennial Park for more than two decades with a wide variety of international, national and local acts. Palko said he grew up going to Bayfest and wants to bring the outdoor festival tradition back to Sarnia in a big way.
“I think Sarnia was upset to lose that (Bayfest) experience. We’re different from Bayfest – we’re in a different location – but I have a love for live entertainment.
“I’m from Sarnia and I want to be able to look out there and see people having a great time,” said Palko.
The field in Canatara Park has a capacity of 15,000 per night. Palko said his goal this year is to bring in 15,000 over the entire weekend in what he called “a quaint” location protected by trees in one of the city’s premier parks. Like most new festivals, Revelree hasn’t made money yet but Palko says this is the year “we’re hoping we’ll be able to stand on our own two feet.”
He wants to expand to a third night next year if all goes well.
The 2024 lineup features a mix of Canadian and international artists across multiple genres.
Friday, July 19 includes indie pop artist Loviet from Toronto; country musician Teigen Gayse from British Columbia; multi-award rockers Goo Goo Dolls who have sold 15 million records worldwide; and a special guest that won’t be announced until March 2.
Saturday July 20 features Ontario singer/songwriter duo Buck Twenty; Nashville country trio The Castellows; multiplatinum singer/songwriter Gavin DeGraw who combines rock, pop, soul and funk; and Brett Young who has produced seven #1 hits with his southern sound since his debut album in 2017.
Opening each night will be a winner from the new Road to Revelree emerging artist contest. More than 100 bands from across Ontario, Quebec and New York applied to be part of the inaugural competition. Twenty were selected to play at four shows in downtown Sarnia’s Collide in January, February, March and April. Nearly half the competing bands are local.
The winners from those shows play in the finals on May 10 and two will win a spot at Revelree this summer.
“We want to provide opportunities for emerging artists to take the stage,” said Palko. “The quality of these artists is incredible.” The winners will be able to grow their fan base at the festival and play in the same lineup as award-winning, world-renown acts, he said.
Revelree works with local charities that provide volunteers but also accepts applications from individuals who want to volunteer. They can apply online at www.revelreemusicfestival.com starting March 1.
Tickets are on sale now. General admission is $99 for a single day or $169 for a weekend pass. VIP tickets are $139 for a single day or $249 for the weekend.
Additional info about the Road to Revelree competition can be found at www.roadtorevelree.com.