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Yarmouth's Coal Shed Music Festival wraps up for another year

Local teenager Jacques Surette was part of the lineup for this year’s Coal Shed Music Festival, which was held over three weekends in August on the Yarmouth waterfront.
Local teenager Jacques Surette was part of the lineup for this year’s Coal Shed Music Festival, which was held over three weekends in August on the Yarmouth waterfront.

YARMOUTH -- Good crowds, great entertainment and support for a couple of worthy causes. For Phil DeMille, that pretty much sums up this year’s Coal Shed Music Festival on the Yarmouth waterfront, a nine-day event that, once again, featured a variety of musical styles over three weekends in August.

Robert Campbell – one half of Campbell & Green – performing during the 2017 Coal Shed Music Festival in Yarmouth.

“I think we can safely say it improves every year,” said DeMille, the festival’s co-ordinator, “and we try to come up with new, fresh ideas every year as well. Out of nine days, we only lost part of one day due to bad weather. Our crowds were certainly up ... We got all kinds of very positive feedback.”

Cailin Green – part of the husband-and-wife duo Campbell & Green – performing during this year’s Coal Shed Music Festival.

The festival has come a long way since DeMille founded it a decade ago as a two-day event, and he says he feels that even now – having grown to nine days – the potential is there for future growth.

“Every time we turn around, people are suggesting things and asking this and that, and it brings to mind other possibilities,” he said. “I think the thinking of a lot of people (years ago) was ‘why on earth would you try to do nine days?’ Well, it’s like anything else. As they used to say, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Well, we’re building it and they are coming.”

And they are coming from farther away. This year, for the festival’s packed, closing-night country show on Aug. 27, for example, DeMille said there were people from the south shore and valley. It was a similar story a week earlier, he said, when visitors came down to see John Gracie, one of this year’s festival headliners.

Meanwhile, the festival once more supported the Yarmouth Food Bank and local school breakfast programs. Instead of paying admission, those attending the festival each year are invited to donate to those causes.

From an organizational perspective, DeMille likens the festival to trying to put together a big puzzle, where getting all the pieces to fit can be a challenge.

“It’s fluid,” he said. “You get something you think is down and firm and then, all of a sudden, something else comes up and you have to make this or that adjustment.”

Before long, the process of planning the 2018 festival will begin, but, at least for a while, DeMille says it will be nice to have a break.

“We’re going to take a month or six weeks off before we start trying to piece together next year,” he said.

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