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Gussapolooza festival started as 'inside joke,' but continues to grow

Tickets on sale now for this year's event, taking place Sept. 13 to 15 in Cookstown; organizers looking for volunteers and vendors
The Gussapolooza Music Festival will take place Sept. 13 to 15.

Tickets are now on sale for one of Canada’s most unique events: Gussapolooza (Sept. 13 to 15, Cookstown, Georgian Bay Steam Show Grounds).

Often described as a blend of SXSW and America’s Got Talent, this festival transforms the small town of Cookstown into a vibrant hub for aspiring musicians and industry insiders.

Gussapolooza started as a backyard gathering and an inside joke among touring bands, using the name Gus as a placeholder for unknown individuals. Today, it has grown into a three-day extravaganza featuring over 40 indie bands from across North America on a 48-acre event ground. The festival is a bold celebration of creativity and expression.

This year, the husband-and-wife team of Russell and Valerie Robson received over 1,000 submissions from emerging talents across North America.

“It took us months to listen to all of the amazing submissions and check out the artists,” said Valerie. “We received entries from every genre and from places as diverse as Los Angeles, Newfoundland, Austin, Yellowknife, and even Bucerías, Mexico. It was a tough decision this year, and while we aim to embrace global talent, we are committed to providing more opportunities for Canadian artists.”

Gussapolooza is dedicated to creating real opportunities for emerging artists and creative entrepreneurs, providing a space for those passionate about discovering and supporting new talent. The festival is committed to strengthening the independent entertainment sector.

“We are a festival of meaningful connections and purpose,” said Russell. “This year, we are offering special discounts and booth spaces to creative individuals and companies. Our goal is to bring together people with diverse skills and services in the entertainment sector to showcase their work, network with artists, and connect with creative entrepreneurs. We call it our Creators Convention, and we’re very excited about it.”

Gussapolooza stands out in the festival scene with its unique approach, offering attendees a taste of some of the best unknown music and art, carefully curated for their enjoyment. Festival goers can meet new bands, discover new art and social media channels, and participate in the Gussapolooza Music Awards. Each year, three standout emerging bands receive career-changing awards and are invited to headline the following year’s festival. This year’s headliners include Sudbury’s own Fortunate Losers, Newmarket rockers Cigar Club, and The Blues Emergency from Toronto.

The festival also features a small indie film contest, vendor village, beer garden, family camping and kids’ area, powered RV sites, and a comedy showcase.

Gussapolooza ensures affordability with full weekend adult passes, including camping, priced at $129.99, and day youth passes starting at just $15.

Call for volunteers and vendors

Gussapolooza is seeking enthusiastic volunteers and diverse vendors to join our festival team. Volunteers will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and be part of an exciting event, while vendors can showcase their unique products and services to a dynamic audience.

For more information, visit

Follow us on social media @Gussapolooza. Check out this year’s amazing lineup and showcase your creative brand or service at this year’s Creators Convention.