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Everything you need to know as Kempenfest weekend approaches (10 photos)

City's annual arts, crafts and antiques festival starts Friday and continues until Monday evening

Def Leppard, The Clash and a host of other classic rock hits were already blaring over the loud speakers this morning along the city's lakeshore. And that can only mean one thing: Kempenfest is in town.

The decades-long Kempenfest arts, antiques and crafts festival takes over the city's lakeshore this Civic Holiday long weekend. 

This year's 49th annual event includes the always popular and brightly lit midway, the live music of Loverboy and Teenage Head on Saturday night, as well as more than 350 exhibitors selling their work. 

New this year is the 'Emerging Talent' tent, filled with up-and-coming artisans and their wares. 

"These people have never been before are coming in and getting to showcase their talents," Kempenfest general manager Louise Jackson told BarrieToday during an interview Wednesday morning down at the festival site. "There's been a lot of traffic, too, with them tagging themselves on social media.

"People keep telling me that, 'Kempenfest is so good to me, it's keeps my business going through the whole year'," Jackson added. "It's giving everybody an opportunity. Seeing all the posts, it's really awesome."

Judging by Environment Canada's seven-day forecast, the weather is shaping up to be great this weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all expected to be sunny with daily highs becoming progressively cooler, from 27 Celsius down to 25C on Sunday. However, there's a 60 per cent chance of rain on the holiday Monday, with a high around 24C.

Jackson said the social-media traffic for this weekend's Kempenfest "has been phenomenal," with 21,000 visits to the website on Tuesday alone. 

Due to limited parking, festival-goers can use a free shuttle service between the Allandale Go Station and the Bayfield Mall. The shuttle service offers extended hours starting at 9:18 a.m. and running until 10:18 p.m. Real-time shuttle tracking is available on

Festival features this year include original arts and crafts handmade by the artisan Saturday to Monday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tastes of Kempenfest, with products for and from the kitchen that aren't commercially produced, such as jams, preserves, fudges and chocolates; The Marketplace, which has new products not sold yet at retail outlets; and the Optimist Antique Show, which has grown over the years to attract 40 exhibitors from all over Ontario.

The activity on site on Wednesday was beginning to accelerate significantly, as midway workers inflated and organized their prizes, hosed down the equipment, and got everything in order before the crowds arrive. 

"We came down onto the site yesterday, getting a few things in place and a few trailers," Jackson said. "The midway came in last night and started setting up. Over at (the) Southshore (Centre), they're putting up all the tents at the main stage."

On Thursday, the main stage will be built in anticipation of this weekend's jam-packed live entertainment.

Spray-painted lines also mark the grass to indicate where all of the vendors will be setting up once they arrive. 

Jackson said there are always a few snags each year, but nothing that can't be fixed. 

"Everyone is so supportive of Kempenfest and the whole team is amazing," she said. 

There will be live entertainment this weekend at both the main stage and youth village stage. Concerts on Saturday and Sunday are free admission from 12 - 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. all guests are required to purchase a ticket.

Although Jackson noted "it's a very low-price festival," she stressed that the music is free until 5 p.m., after which point it's paid admission. Wristbands are $25 at the gate for Friday and Saturday. 

"We're really excited about the entertainment," Jackson told BarrieToday. "It's world-class this year. Even the Friday night, with Jordan John, we have heard he is one of the best musicians in Canada. Then we go into Loverboy and Teenage Head. Even the opening acts, the local bands that are supporting them, are fantastic." 

Friday's entertainment includes Jordan John, the Cameo Blues Band, Da'Blooze Bros., Chuck Jackson and Walter Zwol. Gates open at 5 p.m., with music from 6-10 p.m.

On Saturday, Loverboy will headline the show, following a performance from Steeltown punkers Teenage Head. Also on the bill are Hunter, Carl Rundown Band, Bootlegged, and Barstool Confession. Gates open at 11 a.m., with music from noon until 10 p.m.

Sunday's lineup includes Jess Moskaluke, Bareback Riders and Kansas Stone, as well as other emerging artists. Gates again open at 11 a.m., with performances from noon until 10 p.m.

The Martels, The Dreamboats and One More Time Around will close out the weekend on Monday, with gates at 11 a.m., and music from noon until 6 p.m. This show is also paid admission. 

The Tim Horton’s Youth Village Stage will include emerging musicians, from the Ontario Musicians Co-operative Inc., on Saturday from  10 a.m.-8 p.m., as well as Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The Barrie School of Music’s year-end concert is Monday from 2-4 p.m.

Kids and family activities will include yoga at 10 a.m. in the youth village with Joanna Shaw, Tim Horton’s family centre crafts and activities, DJ Dance Party with Matt Shaw, meet Geoffry from Toys R Us, and meet a yeti, as well as face painting, henna, balloon animals, interactive games for the family. 

The festival is also a large tourist magnet. 

Kempenfest is Barrie’s signature summer event that brings thousands of people from all over to enjoy the festival, music and Barrie’s glorious waterfront,” Tourism Barrie executive director Kathleen Trainor said in a release. “We’re having a phenomenal response to this year’s music lineup and to headliners Loverboy. With Barrie’s hotels getting booked up too, it is going to be a great year for Kempenfest.” 

Over the years, it's estimated that Kempenfest has raised more than $10 million for local charities, not-for-profit organizations and service clubs, including the Barrie Art Club and Kiwanis Club of Barrie for community programs, as well as the Optimist Club to support local youth through its Food Booth. 

For more information, click here.

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Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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