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Coal Shed Music Festival starts Friday, Aug. 9, on Yarmouth waterfront

Campbell and Green will be among the performers for the opening weekend of this year’s Coal Shed Music Festival. They are scheduled to take the stage Saturday evening, Aug. 10. BRUCE DIENES
Campbell and Green will be among the performers for the opening weekend of this year’s Coal Shed Music Festival. They are scheduled to take the stage Saturday evening, Aug. 10. BRUCE DIENES - Contributed

Three weekends of musical entertainment are in store on Yarmouth’s waterfront as the Coal Shed Music Festival is held for another year.

The event’s 13th edition will open Friday, Aug. 9, and, over nine days – Aug. 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25 – festival-goers will be treated to a wide variety of musical styles, with performers from both southwestern Nova Scotia and from outside the region taking part.

The festival also will include kitchen parties, workshops, a songwriting contest and more.

The event has come a long way since 2007, when it was introduced.

Longtime local musician Phil DeMille, the festival’s founder and co-ordinator, recalls wanting to do something on the Yarmouth waterfront, an event that would help draw people to the area during the summer.

He discussed it with representatives of the town.

“They said, ‘we are prepared to help you in whatever way we can if you’re willing to take on the responsibility of organizing a festival,’” DeMille said.

His response was that he would try. The festival’s inaugural edition was held over two days, or perhaps a day-and-a-half to be more accurate, DeMille recalls.

When reflecting on that first festival a dozen years ago, DeMille remembers some people wondering if the initiative would work.

“The reaction at the time was, ‘are you sure you’re going to be able to put enough together (for two days)?’ And, of course, it’s grown now to be nine days and it should be longer.”

There is no admission to attend the festival, but donations for the Yarmouth Food Bank are appreciated. The event also supports local school breakfast programs.

In interviews over the years, DeMille often has spoken about how much musical talent there is in southwestern Nova Scotia, saying the Coal Shed festival is a chance for people to see and hear some of this talent.

He also has spoken about the process of planning the festival, saying it starts many months in advance. Organizing such an event isn’t easy, he says – you never know what might fall through, what hurdle might pop up – but he has found it to be worth the effort.

“Every single time, when we start to put the festival together, we have a whole new set of challenges in front of us, with absolutely no guarantees,” he said. “Well, isn’t that really what life is like? You have no guarantees. You’ve got the challenges, you do the best you can, and you hope it works out and that’s about all you can say.”

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